Fri 26 Feb 2010
When it was announced that LAPD Chief Charles Beck was to be in attendance at this week’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting Wednesday, I would have bet good money that he wouldn’t show. Nothing against Beck, it’s just that in the recent past there have been blow-offs by the department to requests by the committee for reports and presentations, so it wouldn’t surprise me if its chief suddenly found something more productive to do than placate a passel of cycling types.
Then I heard that that Carmen Trutanich’s office had declined to file charges against the suspect who struck cyclist Ed Magos on January 6 and then, after getting out and observing a seriously injured Magos on the ground pleading for help, got back in her Porsche Cayenne and left the scene. This absolution against someone so criminally culpable and morally bankrupt compounded the frustration I was already feeling when I’d heard that the suspect later turned herself in to police telling them that “I may have hit something,” only to have the police for all intents and purposes condone such reprehensible behavior by sending her on her way instead of arresting her for felony hit and run.
Come the morning of the committee meeting I was pretty much the grumbliest cyclist in the city and made the snap decision to take a personal day, telling my boss something along the lines that “an important and pressing matter needs my immediate and direct attention.”
Then at noon I pedaled over to Heliotrope and Melrose in East Hollywood to meet up with a group of cyclists organized by the L.A. County Bike Coalition who were heading to City Hall and the committee meeting via the route that Magos took the day he got hit.
One of the items on my agenda as an Angeleno has been to visit City Council chambers, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever task myself with speaking there. But despite how much I hate doing so, I knew I had to do more than represent physically. For better or worse I had to verbalize it as well.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the lectern mic with all the bombast I’d been planning to drop. Beck took the wind totally out of my sails by addressing the Magos incident specifically in his opening statement at the beginning of the meeting. He said he recognized that the ball got dropped and that people were pissed and as such had spoken with Trutanich’s office, which had agreed to take another look at the issue (whatever that means).
So whereas I had been planning on using loaded words like “abomination,” “insulting,” “ignorant,” and “wouldn’t know justice if it hit them from behind and fled the scene” to characterize what I saw as uninvolved and uncommitted police and prosecution departments, I toned it down a bit, as follows: