Beverly Hills Police Department likes to intimidate cyclists for Fun

By Mihai Peteu

BHPD Is it okay for a law enforcement officer to drive an SUV aggressively towards a group of cyclists who have broken absolutely no laws, at night, with his headlights lights off? Well, this specific Beverly Hills Police Department officer seems to think it was a good idea, heck, maybe it even taught us a “lesson”. About what, I’m still not sure, but please do read on.

Here’s the jist of the story:

At approximately 12:30am on (early) Friday morning, June 6, 2008, three of us were cycling back from a regular Thursday night cross-town training ride known as CubCamp. The group was comprised of Mihai Peteu, Alex Thompson, and Floyd, a newcomer. We were headed West on Charleville at 12-15mph, approaching S. Beverly Dr. Two of us had at least one headlight and one rear light each, and the 3rd member of our group was lacking a headlight. Two police cars were stationed across the street about 500ft away, on the SW corner of the street. The sedan was parked, and the SUV started moving towards us, cutting through the intersection at an angle.

Suddenly, it picked up speed with its headlights off, and broke hard about 20 feet in front of us, in our lane of traffic. The officer then proceeds to lecture us about our 3rd member not having a headlight, issuing us a verbal warning. As the SUV drove away, I noted that it was a Beverly Hills Police Department vehicle, license plate number 1098193.

This was clearly an intimidation tactic, and it scared the crap out of me. Also, even if this is acceptable procedure in Beverly Hills for pulling a vehicle over for a traffic violation, why endanger all THREE members of the group, only when one of us was guilty of a minor infraction?

The following morning I called the BHPD to inquire about the complaint process, and I was able to speak to a watch commander. He stated that the police officer in the SUV did nothing wrong and gave the impression that we should be glad that he only gave Floyd a verbal warning instead of a citation. He agreed to mail me a complaint form.

Alex Thompson and I visited the Beverly Hills Police department on Wednesday afternoon (June 11th) to deliver our complaint in person. We talked to two officers, both which seemed very receptive. We both gave them our accounts of the story and answered their questions in more detail. Sgt. Lincoln Hoshino, the gentleman in charge of our Emergency Personnel Complaint promised to follow up with us soon.

Mid-day on Thursday June 12th, Sgt. Hoshino contacted me by phone and we discussed the matter further. Even though he specifically asked me twice whether the SUV actually crossed into our lane of traffic and I repeatedly answered “Yes”, he was still under the impression that the officer driving the SUV did nothing wrong. He would rather get into the details of how hard I had to swerve to get out of the way and the exact location of the SUV after it broke hard in front of us. Sgt. Hoshino mentioned that patrolling with all lights off is a common thing. He also warned me that they have uninterrupted in-car camera footage, so I should be careful at any claim I make. Frustrated, I asked him to please review that footage in full and ask the police officer that was behind the wheel the same detailed questions that I had to answer. That ended our phone conversation.

My main gripes are being intimidated by a police officer for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Stemming from that is a feeling like I got a little bit of the “group punishment” that cyclists tend to receive. Also, if this specific officer doesn’t reprimanded for his actions, he’ll just think he’s being righteous and will continue to harass cyclists that happen to ride through his turf. This seems to be the case since both a watch commander and the investigating officer do not see anything wrong with driving a Police SUV aggressively towards a bunch of cyclists for no good reason.  It’s not even that big of a deal to them, they may honestly see nothing wrong with this because that’s simply how they were pre-programmed to think.

Might not seem like a big deal to some people reading this, but this is just a drop in a sea of institutionalized discrimination against cyclists in large cities across North America. So what’s next people? Hope to see some comments from folks with knowledge of the law, and maybe a few instances of “a similar thing happened to me on these wonderful LA streets when…”

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14 Responses to “Beverly Hills Police Department likes to intimidate cyclists for Fun”

  1. Given how my friend Steve was recently harassed by cops in Vernon this past weekend I can empathize with your outrage. I can’t offer up much in the way of law knowledge on what to do when bored cops decide it’s the right time to flex their power but I will encourage you to continue to pursue the matter through necessary (if obviously frustrating) channels. Perhaps think about taking it to the next level above the PD… like some sort of police commission or committee. BH City Council, maybe?

    Come to think of it if I recall correctly Stephen Box not too long ago had a distasteful encounter with a BHPD officer and ended up speaking before some sort of public body within that city. If he doesn’t check in to read your post you might want to contact him directly.

  2. My advice would be to file a written request asking for the footage from the patrol car. Then post that footage here on this blog or on youtube so that we can see it.

    bjorn

  3. scary shit. sorry that happened to you. Stay safe and good luck with your rides!

  4. Whatever you do, get the footage. Without that, it’s largely your word against theirs.

  5. Put in a FOIA (in california it is the public records act, more here http://www.thefirstamendment.org/publicrecordsact.pdf ) for the video.

    And perhaps more of us cyclists should start using helmet cams and compact flash recorders. I’m thinking of putting one together myself.

  6. I was able to speak with officer Lee today, and he said that that my complaint may still be under investigation, so I will check again next Monday.

    When I asked about reviewing the on-board footage for myself, he said that I cannot gain access to it while the investigation is ongoing because it’s considered evidence. Once the investigation is complete, he said I may need a lawyer to issue a subpoena for it.

  7. let’s be real here. even if that footage shows that you are right, there is no way that the officer will be reprimanded, and you will spend far more money and time to get your hands on the footage then you want to.

    youre fighting cops. cops always protect their own.

    PS – i F’n hate cops

  8. Lincoln Hoshino has been sued more than once. Federal court docket number: 2-93-cv-00236;

  9. Thanks anonymous!

    Mihai, did you see this?

  10. I tried to use that various search engines on http://www.archives.gov/, but no results. Maybe Anonymous can help shed some more light on this…

  11. can you recall any news story describing a vehicle accelerating towards officers, or even rolling in their general direction. Bang Bang….

  12. i see police violating thed lae every day-who gives them their tickets or warnings?No one!But they llok at everyone as if they are the criminal.This uncalled for;at least hihe your need to be sneaky dont just whisper it to your partnerI know all of the tricks since i used to be a patrol officer.Additudes are too cocky make sarcastic remarks towards civilians,rtc.polelpe are very well educated nowadays they.re stupid so rear the like you not gog just be your nasty old self.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. BHPD cyclist intimidation situation | Los Angeles Metblogs - June 16th, 2008

    [...] to go file a complaint right away. Well they did, and they seem to be getting blown off. Over on WestSideBikeSide, Mihai has posted a more detailed breakdown of what actually happened, who they followed up with [...]

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