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LA Road Rage Doc Convicted for Horrific 2008 Cyclist Assault

thompson.jpgDr. Christopher Thompson is taken away in cuffs Monday. Photo: Los Angeles Times

Following a highly-publicized, intensely-followed trial, Christopher Thompson, the physician accused of using his car to seriously injure two cyclists in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, is behind bars.

Thompson was convicted yesterday of six felony counts: two counts each, according to VeloNews, of assault with a deadly weapon, battery with
serious bodily injury, and reckless driving causing specified
injury and mayhem.

On July 4, 2008, Thompson passed cyclists Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr as the pair rode through the emergency room surgeon's upscale neighborhood. Angry after a verbal exchange with the men, Thompson slammed on the brakes of his red Infiniti as Peterson and Stoehr rode behind. Stoehr ended up in front of the car, wounded with a separated shoulder. Peterson hit the rear window, suffering severe facial injuries. Thompson told police on the scene that he was tired of cyclists in his neighborhood and wanted to "teach them a lesson."

At trial, Thompson denied making that statement, claiming that he had been attempting to get photographs of the cyclists, who he said had frightened him. But the jury didn't buy it, possibly because of Thompson's history of hostility toward people on bikes. He was also convicted Monday of misdemeanor reckless driving, a charge stemming from a prior encounter with two other cyclists.

Prosecutor Mary Stone urged that Thompson be remanded to jail, saying: "In terms of public safety, there isn’t a cyclist in Los Angeles who would be comfortable if he were out on the streets." Judge Scott Millington apparently agreed, ordering Thompson held without bail. Sentencing is set for December 3. Thompson faces up to 10 years in prison.

Thompson could very well get off with a light sentence. But to have prosecutors, a judge and jury members agree on the heinous nature of this crime, and to deem its non-driving victims worthy of justice, can scarcely be interpreted as anything other than a positive development -- one that will hopefully be noticed by law enforcement officials nationwide.

Damien Newton at Streetsblog LA has followed this case since Thompson's arrest last year. You can catch up on the coverage here.

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