Memorial concert follows DA's decision not to charge driver who killed cyclist

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Amelie Le Moullac, shown with her cat Diesel, is being celebrated at a concert, but the driver who killed her won't face charges
http://amelielemoullac.com

In the wake of yesterday’s decision by the District Attorney’s Office not to bring criminal charges against the driver who killed 24-year-old Amélie Le Moullac as she cycled in the Folsom Street bike lanes on her way to work last August, her family will be holding a benefit concert this Friday (May 16) for Amélie’s Angels, a charity created in her name to benefit needy schoolchildren in Haiti.

The concert by Amelie’s mother, organist Jessie Jewitt, and other Bay Area musicians starts at 7:30pm in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, featuring the Palo Alto Philharmonic and Conducter Geoffrey Pope. Amélie’s friend and co-worker Steve Lynch, who told us the event will be both a memorial and a fundraiser, said he was disappointed by the DA’s office decision not to bring charges in the case.

“I personally find this to be very upsetting, particularly given the way her investigation was handled, but the main reason I wanted to write you was to see if you would be interested in mentioning the benefit concert. It's something that we're trying to do to get her family some closure,” Lynch told us.

As KQED reported yesterday, the DA’s Office decided there was insufficicient evidence to bring an involuntary manslaughter charge against delivery truck driver Gilberto Alcantar, who turned right at Sixth Street across Le Moullac’s path, killing her. The San Francisco Police Department had recommended criminal charges after initially conducting only a cursory investigation, an insult that was compounded by Sgt. Richard Ernst showing up and making insensitive, victim-blaming comments at a memorial event by cyclists at the scene of Le Moullac’s death. Afterward, bike activists asked nearby businesses if they has surveillance video of the accident, finding video that police had neglected to seek that led investigators to conclude that Alcantar didn’t have the right-of-way when he ran over Le Moullac.

The Board of Supervisors held hearings on how the SFPD conducts such investigations, and Police Chief Greg Suhr later apologized for Ernst’s comments and the faulty investigation and pledged to conduct more thorough investigations when motorists kill cyclists, including looking at the three other similar fatalities last year. Alcantar was never even given a traffic citation in the deadly accident, but Le Moullac’s family has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Alcantar and the company he was driving for at the time, Daylight Foods.

Since the accident, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has created new bike lanes and other markings on Folsom Street to more clearly delineate how bikes and cars should merge as they approach intersections so as to avoid the illegal “right hook” turns that are so dangerous to cyclists.

In a public statement announcing Amélie’s Angels and the benefit concert, Jewitt said, “Many people have asked me whether I was going to set up some type of fund or activity to improve the safety of SF streets for bicyclists. Although great improvements need to be made in this area, I leave it to advocates such as the Bicycle Coalition and other concerned individuals to petition for these changes. Amélie was not a cyclist. She was simply a young woman who thought that cycling to work would help the environment and would be a good form of exercise. In the days following her death, I felt her love so intensely, I knew I had to channel it into some activity that would directly enhance the lives of others.”

Comments

There is little point in making a criminal out of someone who, at worst, made an error and who, at best, may have done nothing wrong at all.

These situations are best handled through insurance and civil claims.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

Anyone who breaks the law and kills a cyclist has "done nothing wrong at all" in your book? I remember that next time you whine about losing a parking space.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 13, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

Without criminal intent, there is no crime.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:31 am

But why wasn't the driver at least given a traffic citation? This was clearly a right-of-way violation and one that had deadly consequences, yet he won't even have to pay a fine?!?! Cyclists are getting tickets for failing to come to a complete stop, endangering nobody (except possibly themselves), yet a driver commits a far more dangerous violation and nothing happens. How do you justify that?

Posted by steven on May. 14, 2014 @ 10:24 am

The SFPD is actively serving the Nazi-esque right-wing anti-bike agenda. They didn't want to help the victim and her family get justice by providing any paperwork demonstrating the driver's guilt; just as they dragged their feet on finding video evidence until they had their noses rubbed in it--almost too late.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 14, 2014 @ 10:42 am

A vehicle is allowed to enter a bike lane in a variety of situations, including making a right turn.

And technically bike lanes stop some distance before the intersection and do not persist through them. There was a court case on that some years ago.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:30 am

But if there is already a cyclist in said bike lane, you cannot.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 12:49 pm

If it is 20 feet behind, then it's fine.

And the bike lanes do not endure through the intersection.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

Motorists must respect cyclists rights to continue through the bicycle lane to the limit line if they are already in the bike lane as the lane dissolves into the stripe. This means that motorists have to wait until the lane clears if it is occupied before the motorist merges right. Motorists must signal 100' in advance and fully merge into the bicycle/right lane to make a legal right turn.

Rarely does this happen, motorists all too often just take the right hook and are done with it.

Posted by marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 7:19 pm

intersections and the like, so it's more a matter of where both parties are at the point of the turn.

If a vehicle is already making the turn, the cyclist must stop and wait for the turn to complete.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 6:36 am

The bike lane is a traffic lane and that traffic lane continues through the intersection. If a cyclist is in that lane, a motorist cannot merge into that lane until the lane is clear. It is a violation to merge into a lane when it is occupied.

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:06 am

it was ruled that the bike lane ends at an intersection. The reason is obvious - any vehicle making a turn has to enter the bike lane.

In this case there is also a question as to whether amelie occupied the bike lane at the point of the turn. By your own admission there was a bulb-out there. moreover had she been 20 feet behind, the turn was legal

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:04 am

You are suggesting that it is legal for a vehicle to merge into a lane occupied by a bicyclist prior to the intersection if she is 20' behind the motor vehicle and in motion? The collision did not happen in the intersection, it happened at the corner.

Posted by marcos on May. 18, 2014 @ 7:39 pm

If a truck driver is running over someone in another lane, then clearly that driver is taking her right-of-way. What the hell is wrong with you?!?! Not only is your point illogical, it's incredibly insensitive. He ran over her and killed her while she was riding straight in her own lane and you want to argue ridiculous hypotheticals?!?! 

Posted by steven on May. 15, 2014 @ 9:41 am

There are no bike lanes at intersections. Have you not noticed that the markings end there?

Interesting that you think there is something "wrong" with anyone who takes a different view from you.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:06 am

@Guest - The CVC is clear on this, motorists who want to turn right must first safely merge into the bike lane (after signalling 100ft before executing the turn) before turning right. Not cut across the bike lane, violating bicyclists' right of way.

Inane quibbling about how there are no bike lane markings in the intersection itself is vapid distraction.

Posted by Jym on May. 16, 2014 @ 7:07 am

there is no imaginary bike lane extended across an intersection.

So the question here is where was the bike when the truck started to make the turn. And, having seen the video, it is not clear.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2014 @ 7:20 am

Here’s what the CVC says, via the SFBC’s page on right turns:

Motor Vehicles in Bicycle Lanes

21209. (a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207 except as follows:

(1) To park where parking is permitted.

(2) To enter or leave the roadway.

(3) To prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection.

[there's more about motorized bicycles in bicycle lanes, not prohibited so long as they're operated reasonably and prudently]

Turning Across Bicycle Lanes

21717. Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100 [general turning regulations].

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 9:25 am

end of the bike lane road marking, which typically stop short of the intersection.

That was my point.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 11:31 am

That's actually incorrect. It's called manslaughter, not murder, when there isn't intent to kill. The law isn't black and white; so while there is clearly no right or wrong answer here, the result of someone's actions are what matter, with intent dictating the severity of punishment. In this case, the video footage clearly shows he was negligent.

The bottom line is, no citation at all -- not even a ticket for an illegal turn -- sends that message that it's totally fine to hit and kill a cyclist safely in the bike lane wearing a helmet, obeying the law.

Criminal intent is irrelevant in a possible manslaughter case.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:11 am

Vehicular manslaughter requires breaking another law, felony, misdemeanor or infraction that proceeds conduct that leads to death. That test was clearly met in this case as the motorist committed an infraction.

Posted by marcos on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:26 am
Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 8:53 am

@Guest - Oh, when did you see the video?

Posted by Jym on May. 13, 2014 @ 6:04 pm

And was inconclusive.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:31 am

I don't think you're being honest. Can you include the link to the video you allegedly watched?

Posted by steven on May. 14, 2014 @ 10:27 am

IIRC I think one of the local TV stations got it and the link to that was on Streetsblog.

They may have edited it to spare the feelings of the family, so I cannot say it is complete.

It was grainy and shot from a distance across traffic and so I can understand why the DA are not viewing it as a smoking gun.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:27 am

@Guest - Funny how nobody who actually reads Streetsblog saw this video, or (if I'm being charitable) saw some sort of video and mistakenly believed it was "the" video.

Material fact: the video caused the SFPD to alter the police report with their determination that the driver was at fault.

Posted by Jym on May. 14, 2014 @ 6:11 pm

I cannot say whether Streetsblog cited that or not. They may have ducked if the video did not show that theyw anted it to show.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

Television stations rarely show footage of people being killed. In fact, Dan Noyes at ABC7, who obtained it first, wrote: " The video is just eight seconds long, but ABC7 News has elected not to show it all out of respect for the family. But it only takes a few seconds to understand why the video had such an impact on the case."

Posted by steven on May. 15, 2014 @ 9:44 am

So because one news station wouldn't show the footage, no other news outlet, blog, or website will?

And FYI, depending on the footage, some news stations will show footage of a collision involving a fatality. I saw the footage of Sofia Lu being run over by that Uber driver on (I think) Channel 2. While it wasn't direct footage of the incident, you could see the car hit her and rise up as it drove over her.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

Why are people saying it hasn't been shown? Do they watch every TV station 24/7?

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 5:46 am

"The video has not been released to the public, and is only known to be in the possession of Liberty and the SFPD."

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 9:29 am

what the video shows. You evidently have not performed sufficient research.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 11:32 am

Do you personally know all of them, without exception?

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

The video was all over the news. Google it if you really care to see a young woman struck and killed by a car. I happen to have grown up with her.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:13 am

makes an effort to find it.

The DA has probably seen a fuller, clearer version and based their decision not to prosecute on that and the lack of eye witnesses blaming the driver.

But even the edited version of the video I saw shows nothing prosecutable in terms of a crime. It just looks like an accident.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 11:36 am

And the cop tickets me, can I go to court and say "It was an accident" and get the ticket dismissed?

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

You either did it on purpose or by not paying attention.

But a citation isn't a criminal conviction.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

When is the state going to create guidelines and training for cyclists and drivers? Nobody has any idea who has the right of way.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

Since I rarely see cyclists stop at stop signs and even frequently bolt right through stop lights, I simply give them the right of way. Seems like they assume it's theirs.

Why don't cops ever enforce traffic laws against cyclists?

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 10:18 pm

Everywhere I go I see car drivers speed. Speed is frequently a cause of injury and death in accidents. Seems like car drivers think they are entitled to speed everywhere and risk the lives of everyone around them.

Why don't cops ever enforce traffic laws against car drivers?

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

Cyclists do sometimes get tickets, even when they're not endangering anyone, unlike motorists whose vehicles are deadly weapons: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2014/05/09/bike-work-day-marred-another-wiggle-police-sting

Posted by steven on May. 14, 2014 @ 10:42 am

that bikes should be able to break the law with impunity.

And in fact there have been 2 deaths in SF since 2011 caused by cyclists

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:31 am

For fomenting hatred of anyone in a car. Bikes can be deadly weapons. Skateboards, too. Razors, too. In-line skates, too. In the hands of a complete fool.

Posted by Richmondman on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:46 am

seen the footage of the incident, so has no first-hand reason to believe that the driver was at fault at all.

He just assumes it because it suits his ideology. and that is why political extremists can never be trusted. Bias permeates their essence.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:52 am

What's annoying about you trolls is you aren't logical. She was riding in a bike lane going straight through a green light. He was in the lane to her left and turned right, across her path, running her over. How can he not have taken her right-of-way? That seemed obvious from the very beginning. And then when the police went from blaming the victim to recommending criminal charges after seeing the video, it should be obvious to everyone but the most vile, cyclist-hating trolls on this site. 

Posted by steven on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:02 am

If she was well behind the truck when the turn started, then the turn was legal. If then the turn was stalled at some point, and Amelie did not hold back, then a collision could happen when the turn re-commenced. She would be in his blind spot.

According to marcos, there was also a bulb-out there, so the bike lane would end there and Amelie would have had to move to the left. In this case, it is not clear it was safe to do so.

Why didn't you watch the video? It doesn't prove any crime

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 10:08 am

"The video has not been released to the public, and is only known to be in the possession of Liberty and the SFPD."

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 9:28 am

It's hard to prove a negative, as you are discovering.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 11:32 am

"The video has not been released to the public, and is only known to be in the possession of Liberty and the SFPD."

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 9:29 am

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