San Francisco Bay Guardian * February 21, 2001

Cycles of Violence

By Katherine Roberts

About 70 people gathered in front of City Hall Feb. 12 to memorialize Christopher Robinson, a bicyclist who was crushed under the wheels of a big-rig truck last November. Robinson, 30, had been riding in a funeral procession for a fellow cyclist who had been killed a week earlier.

The truck driver, Rueben Espinoza, was arraigned on Feb. 6 in Superior Court on three felony charges. Since he has prior convictions for two violent felonies, including voluntary manslaughter, Espinoza is eligible for 25 years to life under California's "Three Strikes, You're Out" law. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

Chief homicide prosecutor Murlene Randle, from the District Attorney's Office, told the court that the reason it took almost three months to arraign Espinoza is that the police department used officers inexperienced with this type of crime. Randle testified that the D.A.'s Office had to reconstruct the entire investigation from scratch because the police report was so riddled with inaccuracies.

At the rally Sup. Tom Ammiano and members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition decried the police and the general public's lack of awareness of cyclists' rights. Ammiano called the failure to enforce existing cyclist-protection laws "a type of police brutality against cyclists." Last year alone 30 bicyclists and pedestrians were killed by motorists on the streets of San Francisco.



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