[Fwd: [elist] Bill Bliss - Officer Convicted]

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Ravi, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. Ravi

    Ravi Guest

    must read! Shows that the defense goes on to extreme lengths to acquit
    the defendant.

    +ravi

    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: [elist] Bill Bliss - Officer Convicted
    Date: Sat, 7 Jan 2006 15:23:29 GMT
    From: Jeff Orum <[email protected]>

    >From the Canon City Daily Record:


    (http://www.canoncitydailyrecord.com/Top-Story.asp?ID=2460)

    Publish Date: 1/6/2006

    Officer guilty of careless driving

    Alison Miller
    Daily Record Staff Writer

    Cañon City Police Officer Doug Havens was convicted Thursday night of
    careless driving in a June 2005 incident that killed cyclist Bill Bliss
    on Colo. 67, two miles north of Wetmore.

    Havens was found innocent of the lesser charge of speeding.

    Assistant District Attorney Cheyenne Ross built her case around Bliss’
    advocacy for bicycling safety and expert accident reconstruction.

    The victim’s longtime friend and fellow cyclist Russell Godfrey
    testified Bliss, a 69-year-old Californian, advocated and taught road
    safety to new cyclists. According to Godfrey, Bliss always wore a helmet
    and bright clothing, had triangle reflectors and followed traffic laws.

    Godfrey had been on the cross country tour that began in Virginia and
    was to end in Oregon before Bliss was struck by Havens on June 24.

    Havens, a rural Westcliffe resident, was off duty at the time.

    Defense attorney Cindy Montgomery called Bliss’ safety into question
    during cross-examination. She said Bliss’ bike and physical condition
    contributed to the accident.

    Testimony indicated the bike was loaded down with equipment and had
    perhaps been engineered to carry excess cargo. The bike was described by
    Godfrey as having smaller than average wheels and a rack carry-ing a
    tent, tools, sleeping bag and other supplies.

    Godfrey also testified Bliss was blind in the left eye, which was later
    determined by the Fremont County Coroner Dorothy Twellman to most likely
    have affected Bliss’ peripheral vision and possibly affected his ability
    to see motorists.

    The Bliss family, who came from California and Seattle to attend the
    trial, disputed claims he was unsafe and said Bliss was an extremely
    accomplished cyclist.

    “Bill has been bicycling for 36 years,” said Bonnie Bliss, the victim’s
    widow. “He has over 300,000 bicy-cle miles. He’s a very proficient
    rider; he’s done most of those miles commuting in urban traffic in San
    Jose (Calif.).

    “Of all the people in the nation, he is probably one of the people who
    have such a depth of understanding and depth of thinking in these types
    (road cycling) of situations,” Mrs. Bliss said.

    The defense questioned whether Bliss actually had been following the
    rules of the road and claimed he was riding close to a foot from the
    center line instead of near the white line as required by law.

    Montgomery supported the claim with testimony from rural postal carrier
    Amanda Withers who said she saw between 10 and 15 cyclists on the
    highway “far out in the road so that you had to get into the other lane
    to get past them.”

    Montgomery outlined a series of events, arguing Havens came around a
    curve just south of mile marker 2 on Colo. 67 at legal speeds and his
    view was obstructed by a vehicle in front of him. She also said Bliss
    was riding where he should not have been and that Havens had no time to
    prevent the accident.

    Jeffery Burke, an accident reconstruction specialist from the Douglas
    County Sheriff’s Office, testified Havens could not have been traveling
    more than 58 mph when he struck Bliss.

    Burke said he personally drove Havens’ Ford truck around the curve
    attempting to reach 77 MPH and said the truck almost rolled. He said he
    was unable to reach the alleged speed Ross claimed Havens was travel-ing
    after coming out of the curve.

    Burke also said at such high speeds it is impossible to see people when
    looking out the vehicle’s window, supporting the claim he was not speeding.

    Rancher Chad Draper testified for the defense he was fixing a fence on
    his property and observed Havens driving. He said he and Havens waved to
    each other.

    Draper also supported defense’s claims there had been another car ahead
    of Havens.

    The prosecution’s expert witness gave a conflicting account of what he
    believed happened that day.

    Mike Halpin, accident reconstruction specialist for the Colorado State
    Patrol, said he calculated Havens’ speed at 77 MPH in a 65 zone through
    calculations and measurements taken at the scene.

    Halpin said skid marks, a scrape mark from the bicycle making impact
    with the road and Havens’ account of the accident gave him points of
    reference to reconstruct the accident.

    According to Halpin, Havens probably came around the curve at high
    speeds, saw Bliss, had about 1.5 seconds reaction time, struck Bliss and
    applied the brakes.

    The injuries sustained by Bliss were determined to be associated with
    Halpin’s account. Pictures of the deceased Bliss demonstrating such
    injuries were denied by Judge William Fox on grounds they were more
    inflammatory than probative.

    Fox said the photos would evoke the sympathy that he himself admitted to
    having while viewing the pho-tos.

    Evidence from the death certificate was admitted stating Bliss died from
    a substantial head injury caused by being struck by a motor vehicle.

    Havens took the stand to give a personal account of the events and, upon
    cross-examination by Ross, a mistrial was almost granted after she asked
    Havens how many speeding tickets he has been issued. Havens admitted to
    one speeding ticket before Montgomery had the opportunity to object.

    Prior acts are not allowed to be introduced into evidence, and
    Montgomery moved for a mistrial. Fox de-termined though Ross’ conduct
    was unacceptable, an instruction to the jury to not weigh the speeding
    ticket was more appropriate than to grant a mistrial.

    The jury found that there was not enough evidence to convict Havens of
    speeding, but decided he was driving carelessly and caused Bliss’ death.

    The misdemeanor carries a range of sentence options from fines and
    points on his license to jail time. A sentencing hearing was scheduled
    for 1:30 p.m. March 6.

    According to CCPD Capt. Jim Cox, Havens is working and he knows of no
    plans to remove him from duty. Cox said the decision to keep or
    terminate Havens’ employment lies with City Administrator Steve Rabe,
    who had no comment.



    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    To unsubscribe, e-mail: [email protected]
    For additional commands, e-mail: [email protected]
     
    Tags:


  2. Dan Connelly

    Dan Connelly Guest

    Ravi wrote:
    > must read! Shows that the defense goes on to extreme lengths to acquit
    > the defendant.
    >
    > +ravi
    >



    Encouraging! He wasn't found to be speeding, he wasn't found to be intoxicated,
    he wasn't doing anything egregious like watching a video, yet he
    is still held responsible for his driving. Maybe there's hope...

    Dan
     
  3. Dan

    Dan Guest

    The story sounds like the jury did a good job but a misdemeanor is no big
    deal. I wonder why manslaughter charges were not filed.

    There is sure to be a civil case. I would be interested to see how it plays
    out. The legal teams in civil cases have more money available to fund their
    investigations and reconstructions.
     
  4. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    On Sat, 07 Jan 2006 08:42:53 -0800, Dan wrote:

    > The story sounds like the jury did a good job but a misdemeanor is no
    > big deal. I wonder why manslaughter charges were not filed.


    DUI, reckless driving, manslaughter,etc. are usually misdemeanors, not
    felonies. There are felony versions of these depending on different state
    laws and the degree of negligence involved, plus some states like CA can
    prosecute serious manslaughter cases as murder (always a felony).

    A misdemeanor *is* a really big deal. Though not in the same class as a
    felony (where you may permanently lose some of your rights as a citizen),
    a misdemeanor conviction means you have a criminal record, which will
    follow you the rest of your life.

    I find cases like this disturbing, when police officers, who should be
    model citizens, commit such crimes. Of the merely several dozen road rage
    shootings in CA in the last 15 years, at least two I can think of were
    committed by off-duty cops. I'd like to think that at worst, cops are
    simply like everyone else, with the same percentage of bad apples.
    Unfortunately, crimes like these reinforce the negative stereotype
    of cops as hotheaded goons. This makes it much harder for the good cops
    (most of them) to do their work. I hope the folks in upper management of
    law enforcement take note.

    Matt O.
     
  5. Bob

    Bob Guest

    Ravi wrote:
    > must read! Shows that the defense goes on to extreme lengths to acquit
    > the defendant.


    What was it about the lengths the defense went to that you found
    "extreme"? Any decent defense attorney will present witnesses and, if
    it's a case involving a traffic crash reconstruction, their own traffic
    crash reconstructionist. That's the way the system works. There's
    nothing unusual let alone "extreme" about that.

    Regards,
    Bob Hunt
     
  6. Roy Zipris

    Roy Zipris Guest

    Ravi: "Shows that the defense goes on to extreme lengths to acquit the
    defendant."

    Besides the fact that it is the jury, not the defense, that may acquit
    a defendant, it it the defense lawyer's role in our system to represent
    his or her clients zealously.
     
  7. Bob

    Bob Guest

    Ravi wrote:
    > must read! Shows that the defense goes on to extreme lengths to acquit
    > the defendant.


    I read the article as posted and have to ask- what do you find to be
    "extreme" about the defense? I'm curious because I see nothing even
    unusual, let alone extreme, in the case for the defense.

    Regards,
    Bob Hunt
     
  8. Pat in TX

    Pat in TX Guest


    > Ravi wrote:
    >> must read! Shows that the defense goes on to extreme lengths to acquit
    >> the defendant.



    > I read the article as posted and have to ask- what do you find to be
    > "extreme" about the defense? I'm curious because I see nothing even
    > unusual, let alone extreme, in the case for the defense.
    >
    > Regards,
    > Bob Hunt


    I guess he thinks the defense should just "go through the motions" and not
    really TRY to help their client, no matter how odious he may be.

    Pat in TX
    >
     
  9. Bob

    Bob Guest

    Roy Zipris wrote:
    > Ravi: "Shows that the defense goes on to extreme lengths to acquit the
    > defendant."
    >
    > Besides the fact that it is the jury, not the defense, that may acquit
    > a defendant....


    I was going to mention this in my reply but figured it was a bit too
    "lawyerly" of a point for a dumb cop to bring up. ;-)

    Regards,
    Bob Hunt
     
  10. Jeff Orum

    Jeff Orum Guest

    Looks like the officer will not be losing his job.

    >From http://www.krdotv.com/DisplayStory.asp?id=10673:


    POLICE OFFICER WON'T LOSE HIS JOB
    A Pueblo Police Officer Guilty Of Reckless Driving Causing Death Will
    Be Able To Keep His Job
    by Jenn Schuch

    1/9/2006


    A police officer from Canon City found guilty of careless driving
    resulting in the death of a California man will not be losing his job.

    Officer Doug Haven was off-duty when he was driving his pickup truck
    north on Colorado Highway 67 near Wetmore. He hit and killed bicyclist
    William Bliss of San Jose.

    Havens was found innocent of speeding, but guilty of misdemeanor
    careless driving causing death. Havens will be sentenced March 6th.
     
  11. Bob

    Bob Guest

    Jeff Orum wrote:
    > Looks like the officer will not be losing his job.
    >
    > >From http://www.krdotv.com/DisplayStory.asp?id=10673:

    >
    > POLICE OFFICER WON'T LOSE HIS JOB
    > A Pueblo Police Officer Guilty Of Reckless Driving Causing Death Will
    > Be Able To Keep His Job
    > by Jenn Schuch
    >
    > 1/9/2006
    >
    >
    > A police officer from Canon City found guilty of careless driving
    > resulting in the death of a California man will not be losing his job.


    Another example of news media inaccuracy. He wasn't convicted of
    *reckless* driving but of *careless* driving. Recklessness is a wilful
    or wanton disregard for the safety of life and property. Carelessness
    can simply be a moment of inattention.

    Regards,
    Bob Hunt
     
  12. Raphae

    Raphae Guest

    On 9 Jan 2006 17:21:57 -0800, "Jeff Orum" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Looks like the officer will not be losing his job.
    >
    >>From http://www.krdotv.com/DisplayStory.asp?id=10673:

    >
    >POLICE OFFICER WON'T LOSE HIS JOB
    >A Pueblo Police Officer Guilty Of Reckless Driving Causing Death Will
    >Be Able To Keep His Job
    >by Jenn Schuch
    >
    >1/9/2006
    >
    >
    >A police officer from Canon City found guilty of careless driving
    >resulting in the death of a California man will not be losing his job.
    >
    >Officer Doug Haven was off-duty when he was driving his pickup truck
    >north on Colorado Highway 67 near Wetmore. He hit and killed bicyclist
    >William Bliss of San Jose.
    >
    >Havens was found innocent of speeding, but guilty of misdemeanor
    >careless driving causing death. Havens will be sentenced March 6th.



    A misdemeanor. How profoundly sick. This is incontrovertible
    evidence that this society is utterly insanse and evil.
     
  13. Tom Keats

    Tom Keats Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    Raphae <[email protected]> writes:

    > A misdemeanor. How profoundly sick. This is incontrovertible
    > evidence that this society is utterly insanse and evil.


    I don't envy anyone who has to live with having caused or contributed
    to somebody's death, no matter what the circumstances.


    regards,
    Tom

    --
    -- Nothing is safe from me.
    Above address is just a spam midden.
    I'm really at: tkeats [curlicue] vcn [point] bc [point] ca
     
  14. Dan Connelly

    Dan Connelly Guest

    Raphae wrote:

    >
    > A misdemeanor. How profoundly sick. This is incontrovertible
    > evidence that this society is utterly insanse and evil.
    >


    I seem to have the monority position among pro-cycling forums, but I don't
    think the problem is insufficient severity of punishment, but its extremely
    low frequency. Indeed, even the removal of driving priveleges, even for a
    limited period (a year?) before they can be re-applied for, would to me do
    a great deal towards internalized the externalized risk of driving. Currently,
    as long as drivers play by a limited set of rules (don't egregiously speed,
    don't flee the scene, don't exhibit chemical intoxication), they generally
    are unaccountable.

    Losing driving priveleges when you kill someone should, in a sane culture, be
    the rule, not the exception. Does anything prevent this guy from going back on
    the roads?

    Dan
     
  15. Dan Connelly

    Dan Connelly Guest

    Tom Keats wrote:

    >
    > I don't envy anyone who has to live with having caused or contributed
    > to somebody's death, no matter what the circumstances.
    >


    The threat of feelings of guilt hardly seems to be sufficient to encourage
    nonreckless behavior.

    No, I think we need to keep laws againt murder, manslaughter, homicide, etc
    on the books, at least for now, and enforce them appropriately.

    Dan
     
  16. Tom Keats

    Tom Keats Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    Dan Connelly <[email protected]_e_e_e.o_r_g> writes:
    > Tom Keats wrote:
    >
    >>
    >> I don't envy anyone who has to live with having caused or contributed
    >> to somebody's death, no matter what the circumstances.
    >>

    >
    > The threat of feelings of guilt hardly seems to be sufficient to encourage
    > nonreckless behavior.


    Neither does anything else. In the case of some drivers (e.g: street
    racing punk kids) the threat of any penalty or consequence seems to add
    to the thrill, and perhaps actually encourages reckless behaviour.

    But I wholeheartedly agree with you (in your subesquent article in this
    thread) about losing driving priveleges -- not merely as a penalty, but
    also for instilling the responsibility of taking care into drivers, and
    for the protection of society from those who have proven themselves to
    be so lethally dangerous to others.

    It would also be nice if motor vehicles were designed & built within the
    limits of human fallibility, but I guess that's too much to hope for.


    cheers,
    Tom

    --
    -- "There's a killer on the road" -- The Doors
    Above address is just a spam midden.
    I'm really at: tkeats [curlicue] vcn [point] bc [point] ca
     
  17. Bob

    Bob Guest

    Dan Connelly wrote:
    > Raphae wrote:
    >
    > >
    > > A misdemeanor. How profoundly sick. This is incontrovertible
    > > evidence that this society is utterly insanse and evil.
    > >

    >
    > I seem to have the monority position among pro-cycling forums, but I don't
    > think the problem is insufficient severity of punishment, but its extremely
    > low frequency. Indeed, even the removal of driving priveleges, even for a
    > limited period (a year?) before they can be re-applied for, would to me do
    > a great deal towards internalized the externalized risk of driving. Currently,
    > as long as drivers play by a limited set of rules (don't egregiously speed,
    > don't flee the scene, don't exhibit chemical intoxication), they generally
    > are unaccountable.
    >
    > Losing driving priveleges when you kill someone should, in a sane culture, be
    > the rule, not the exception. Does anything prevent this guy from going back on
    > the roads?
    >
    > Dan


    Minority position or not, IMO you've identified a major part of the
    real problem. The laws are, for the most part, tough enough. The real
    problem is that there is so seldom any meaningful penalty imposed on
    those that break the law, even though those laws provide for such
    penalties.

    Regards,
    Bob Hunt
     
  18. Bob wrote:
    >
    >
    > Minority position or not, IMO you've identified a major part of the
    > real problem. The laws are, for the most part, tough enough. The real
    > problem is that there is so seldom any meaningful penalty imposed on
    > those that break the law, even though those laws provide for such
    > penalties.


    I'm aware of a recent case where this was true, and it was specifically
    because of deliberate inaction by the cops. Bob, I'd like your
    comment.

    Situation: a person riding on a very familiar road, on her
    almost-every-day after work solo ride. Low to moderate traffic in the
    two narrow lanes. Her fault: she was not taking the lane.

    Elderly, doddering driver passes so close he hits her elbow with his
    right side mirror. She had a serious bruise and swelling, but did not
    crash.

    The driver stopped up ahead, got out, leaning on his vehicle for
    support. She chewed him out. He claimed he didn't see her (broad,
    clear daylight). She asked for his ID. He couldn't read his own
    driver's license, indicating probable vision problems. Foolishly, she
    let him go and turned back toward home, elbow hurting.

    She happened on a patrol car within five minutes and told what
    happened. Two cops arrived, discussed the matter, then visited the
    perp at his house (all on the same road). But in her presence, one cop
    said something about a ticket, and _get this_: The other said "I don't
    think so. She wasn't a motor vehicle, and she wasn't a pedestrian."

    My friend told me; I told a friend who's regionally known in the law
    enforcement profession. I asked him to contact his friend, the police
    chief. I believe such motoring incompetence and injury of an innocent
    party deserves _some_ negative feedback.

    The chief chose to do nothing.

    On the positive side, her elbow recovered, suffering only terrible
    bruising and swelling.

    On the negative side, the driver has essentially been told "Hitting a
    cyclist is no big deal; keep driving."

    And the police department apparently feels damaging a car is more
    serious than damaging a cyclist - in fact, that hitting a cyclist is
    actually not illegal.

    Comments? If you were an interested person not directly connected with
    that jurisdiction, what would you have done?

    - Frank Krygowski
     
  19. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    On Wed, 11 Jan 2006 19:41:17 -0800, frkrygow wrote:


    > Bob wrote:
    >>
    >>
    >> Minority position or not, IMO you've identified a major part of the
    >> real problem. The laws are, for the most part, tough enough. The real
    >> problem is that there is so seldom any meaningful penalty imposed on
    >> those that break the law, even though those laws provide for such
    >> penalties.

    >
    > I'm aware of a recent case where this was true, and it was specifically
    > because of deliberate inaction by the cops. Bob, I'd like your comment.
    >
    > Situation: a person riding on a very familiar road, on her
    > almost-every-day after work solo ride. Low to moderate traffic in the
    > two narrow lanes. Her fault: she was not taking the lane.
    >
    > Elderly, doddering driver passes so close he hits her elbow with his
    > right side mirror. She had a serious bruise and swelling, but did not
    > crash.
    >
    > The driver stopped up ahead, got out, leaning on his vehicle for
    > support. She chewed him out. He claimed he didn't see her (broad, clear
    > daylight).
    > She asked for his ID. He couldn't read his own driver's license,
    > indicating probable vision problems. Foolishly, she let him go and
    > turned back toward home, elbow hurting.
    >
    > She happened on a patrol car within five minutes and told what happened.
    > Two cops arrived, discussed the matter, then visited the perp at his
    > house (all on the same road). But in her presence, one cop said
    > something about a ticket, and _get this_: The other said "I don't think
    > so. She wasn't a motor vehicle, and she wasn't a pedestrian."
    >
    > My friend told me; I told a friend who's regionally known in the law
    > enforcement profession. I asked him to contact his friend, the police
    > chief. I believe such motoring incompetence and injury of an innocent
    > party deserves _some_ negative feedback.
    >
    > The chief chose to do nothing.
    >
    > On the positive side, her elbow recovered, suffering only terrible
    > bruising and swelling.
    >
    > On the negative side, the driver has essentially been told "Hitting a
    > cyclist is no big deal; keep driving."
    >
    > And the police department apparently feels damaging a car is more
    > serious than damaging a cyclist - in fact, that hitting a cyclist is
    > actually not illegal.
    >
    > Comments? If you were an interested person not directly connected with
    > that jurisdiction, what would you have done?


    After the chief flaked out, you should have contacted the DA, and the
    local police commission or town council. State all applicable laws in
    your letter, and how the police dept. failed to enforce them.

    Matt O.
     
  20. Luke

    Luke Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, Tom Keats
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I don't envy anyone who has to live with having caused or contributed
    > to somebody's death, no matter what the circumstances.
    >
    >
    > regards,
    > Tom


    Neither do I envy them, but one musk acknowledge - and envy the less
    for it - those among them who manage to continue with an untroubled
    conscience.

    Luke
     
Loading...
Loading...