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Physician convicted in cycling case

The Los Angeles Times: Physician convicted in cycling case

November 2, 2009 | 3:52 pm

A physician accused of deliberately injuring two cyclists by slamming on his car’s brakes on a narrow Brentwood road last year was convicted Monday of assault with a deadly weapon, mayhem and other serious criminal charges.

The three-week trial of Dr. Christopher Thompson drew close attention from cyclists, many of whom viewed the case as a test of the justice system’s commitment to protecting cyclists.

Thompson, wearing a dark blue suit, bowed his head as the verdicts were read. He faces a possible prison term.

Prosecutors alleged that on July 4, 2008, Thompson stopped his car after passing the two cyclists and shouting at them to ride single-file. One cyclist ran face-first into the rear windshield of the doctor’s red Infiniti, breaking his front teeth and nose, and leaving his face scarred. The other was sent hurtling to the sidewalk and suffered a separated shoulder.

A police officer testified that Thompson told him soon after the accident that the cyclists had cursed at him and flipped him off, so he slammed on his brakes “to teach them a lesson.”

Thompson, a veteran emergency room physician, testified that he had never meant to hurt any of the cyclists. He said he and other residents were upset at unsafe cycling by some riders along Mandeville Canyon Road, a winding, five-mile residential street that has become an increasingly popular route for cyclists. But they had struggled to identify problem riders.

Thompson told jurors that he stopped his car so that he could take a photo of the cyclists he had overtaken and believed he had left enough room for them.

Prosecutors alleged Thompson had a history of run-ins with bikers, including a similar episode four months before the 2008 collision, when two cyclists told police that the doctor tried to run them off the road and braked hard in front of them. Neither of the riders was injured.

-- Jack Leonard