A Los Angeles judge sentenced an emergency room doctor to 5 years in prison on Friday for assaulting a group of cyclists with his car on a winding road near his home in 2008.
It's good to see justice handed down in this case against Christopher Thompson, 60. The incident caught the attention of bicycle riders worldwide; more than 270 e-mailed or wrote the Los Angeles court in support of a stiff sentence.
In November, a jury convicted Thompson of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, battery with serious injury and reckless driving causing injury.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Superior Court Judge Scott T. Millington said he did not take the correspondence from bicyclists into account in making his sentence. The Times said the judge:
“…called the case a “wake-up call” to motorists and cyclists and urged local government to provide riders with more bike lanes. He said he believed that Thompson had shown a lack of remorse during the case and that the victims were particularly vulnerable while riding their bicycles.”
Addressing the court, Thompson said:
“I would like to apologize deeply, profoundly from the bottom of my heart. …. If my incident shows anything it's that confrontation leads to an escalation of hostilities.”
Police and witnesses said Thompson honked at the cyclists and passed them closely as he sped by. Once he cleared the group, he slammed on the brakes, sending one cyclist face-first into the read windshield and another crashing to the sidewalk. The cyclist who hit the car received facial injuries, and the one who hit the sidewalk suffered a separated shoulder.
Thompson testified that he had only stopped to take a picture to identify the cyclists; police said that he commented at the scene that he wanted to “teach them a lesson.” At the time, he was an emergency room physician at the Beverly Hospital in Montebello.
Prosecutors were seeking an 8-year prison term for Thompson, who's been in jail since November because he was considered a flight risk.
Thompson's attorney was seeking leniency for the doctor. The case already has been costly to Thompson, he told the Times earlier. He's been jailed for two months and has had to pay for attorney fees. He also suffers from coronary artery disease and chronic post traumatic stress disorder from the confrontation.
The LA Times reported that the court received letters not only from across the US, but China and Europe as well.