SYNOPSIS: According to the statement of witnesses, a driver intentionally hit Jen Diamond, my girlfriend, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Please repost. This isn't about raising some nebulous concept like "cycling awareness," this is about making government fulfill its obligations to citizens. We live in Los Angeles Council District 13, where the incident took place.
The office of LAPD Chief Bratton can be reached at (213) 485-3202
I can be reached by pager at (800) 310-4063, or email email@example.com
edit: case number 061125924
edit: The phone calls worked. They're on it
edit: Jen thanks everyone for their help on her weblog
Early in the morning on Sunday, October 29, 2006 five of us got on our bikes and headed east from a friend's house at Sunset Junction back to our places in Echo Park. My friend Zack and I climbed Sunset a lot faster than the others, so I took a quick detour to his new apartment before riding home to meet up with my girlfriend and the two others who were headed straight to our place. I'll point out that we were riding as we always do: stopping at signs and signals. All of us were riding with lights front and rear.
Five minutes after splitting off the route I received an urgent page and returned the call to find out that my girlfriend had been hit by a car on Alvarado just after turning off of Sunset to ride the final half-mile home. I could hear her screaming in the background. I was on the scene in minutes.
Blood was running down Jen's face. Her left wrist was mangled and the LAFD paramedics immobilized it with an inflatable orange splint. Strapped to a board with a neck-brace she was trucked-off to LA County-USC Hospital. While they loaded her, a police officer asked if we'd been racing. We hadn't. He asked if we'd been part of some earlier group ride. We hadn't: we were just using our bicycles to ride home.
There were witnesses beyond the two riders who were with her when she was hit. Men in a Jeep traveling south on Alvarado saw the whole of the incident. They witnessed a white Honda Civic swerve out of its lane and hit Jen from behind at full-speed without slowing. The witness stated that the maneuver appeared intentional, as the Honda was tracking straight before and after the collision.
The impact launched her in to the air and instantly smashed her rear bicycle wheel. Between impact and landing her wrist was snapped in two places. Her knuckles were shredded. Her shoes were knocked off. Her feet were abraded. Debris was lodged in to her grated-open forehead.
The witnesses made a u-turn and gave chase. They recorded the license plate of the Honda and were able to get a look at the driver. The Honda driver escaped at speed. The witnesses returned to the scene and gave a statement to the police that suggested at the very least vehicular assault, possibly attempted murder and incontrovertbily described a serious case of felony hit-and-run.
I left the scene and drove to meet Jen at LAC-USC, which is a story unto itself. The floors of the ER are filthy, gurneys are packed in so tightly that staff have a hard time walking around the ward, and homeless patients can be found in the waiting room digging through trashcans for recycleables while waiting for medical attention. The hospital experience was terrible, and lasted from 4 a.m. to almost 6 p.m. I drove her home with 30 stitches in her forehead, a shoulder-to-wrist cast on her left arm, and a stack of instructions and appointments for follow-up care. She will be wearing the cast for six weeks, though the severity of her break suggests that it could take a year for her wrist to heal.
I spent Monday doing errands and getting prescriptions filled. Jen called the police and was told by a recording that she could have her report mailed to her in 12 weeks. I had her call the Northeast Division directly. She was again told her that she could have a report mailed to her in 12 weeks. She persisted in asking them the status of the investigation and we were given the phone number for the accident investigation unit. She called them and was told that they still didn't have a copy of the original report.
She was getting nowhere dealing with the police herself, so I took the phone and pressed the issue. Why, I asked the officer, is it that we were seeing total inaction after witness statements described an assault? I was told that the incident had been classified as a regular traffic accident and that the report had been *mailed* downtown. Mailed.
Now 30-hours post-assault I discovered that the police weren't actively investigating the incident: thus far the Los Angeles Police Department's only action was to lick a stamp and push some paperwork. The officer assured me that accident investigation was the proper avenue for handling this case. I pushed the issue, and the officer agreed to make some phone calls and try to get things moving. She called back and told me that all of the accident investigation detectives had left for the day, that I should try to call them Tuesday first-thing at 7 a.m., and that I should try to convince them to reclassify the case as assault with a deadly weapon.
I called first-thing Tuesday morning and was told to call back at 3:00, 59 hours after the incident. The police still have done nothing to find a suspect. Those responsible for the investigation haven't even seen the report yet. I tried calling the office of Chief Bratton Tuesday morning and was instead routed to Administrative Operations Central Bureau. I was told that I needed to wait a few more days, and that "nothing is going to be done in a hurry." I called Councilman Garcetti's office and was told I would hear back by the end of the day.