Christopher Thompson, the Emergency Room Doctor arrested in July 2008 for vehicular assault on two cyclists, was found guilty of six felonies and a misdemeanor and has been in custody since his November 2009 conviction.Ã‚Â On Friday, he was sentenced to five years in prison.
Superior Court Judge Scott T. Millington doled out the following sentences:
– Two years for “assault with a deadly weapon (his car)”
– An additional Three years because one of the cyclists received serious bodily harm.
The two cyclists, Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr, were both injured when Thompson stopped his car abruptly (and intentionally) directly in front of them.Ã‚Â Both cyclists hit the rear of the car.Ã‚Â Peterson flew through the rear window, nearly severing his nose and breaking several teeth.Ã‚Â Stoehr was launched into the oncoming traffic lane and suffered a badly broken shoulder and severe road road rash.
Despite Thompson’s attorney’s defense that Thompson stopped normally to photograph the cyclists to prove they were riding illegally and that they wrecked because of the “inherent instability” of bicycles, the jury convicted him of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving causing specified bodily injury, battery with serious bodily injury and mayhem.
Compounding the error was Thompson’s prior run in with cyclists in which he had apparently unsuccessfully tried to do the same thing.Ã‚Â Two cyclists involved with that incident reported the driver’s license plate, which belonged to Thompson.Ã‚Â At the hearing for the July incident, prosecutors used the prior report to show that Thompson had a history of such criminal action.
The maximum sentence could have been 10 years, but his attorney asked for lenience stating that 10 years could amount to a death sentence given the doctor’s coronary artery disease, adding that a clinical psychologist testified that Thompson has shown signs of post-traumatic stress disorder since the incident.Ã‚Â Lastly, he added that Thompson had spent decades serving the “underprivileged community” at Beverly Hospital.Ã‚Â Other friends and supporters wrote glowing letters about him, too.
The cycling community far and wide, though, registered 270 emails and letters with the court asking for a harsh sentence with the hopes that it will send a strong message to drivers that aggressive behavior toward cyclists will not be tolerated.Ã‚Â Additionally, they (we) are hoping that it sends an equally strong message to law enforcement that cyclists expect their rights to the road to be upheld.
With the criminal trial now complete, Thompson likely faces civil charges from the cyclists. The L.A. Times reports that Dr. Thompson is near financial ruin.Ã‚Â Other reports say his medical records company is bankrupt, and he’s likely to have his medical license, which was suspended last month, revoked permanently with this conviction.Ã‚Â He’s already moved out of the state with his wife following reported harrassment and discrimination from the local community.