I saw a car stoped askew and a bicyclist down when I got to Desplanes and Washington this morning. I recognized the cyclist as someone whom I had passed a bit further back on Milwaukee and who must have then passed me up again when I stopped to fidget with my chain. I was amazed to see a police office already there until I realized that the cyclist was in handcuffs. I didn't actually witness what happened but from hearing what the cyclist was saying and what the officer was telling dispatch on his cell phone and what a witness who did actually see some of this said something similar to the following must have occurred:
The officer was off duty, likely on his way home from work in his own civilian car.
the cyclist was riding in the bike lane on des planes.
The officer was weaving lanes a bit and driving a bit aggressively (according to the cyclist and the witness the officer said he was stopped and not moving to the on duty officer who arrived later but had indicated he was in motion when initially calling dispatch)
A witness showed up who said she saw the cop weaving as he drove and asked if she should stay to give her information the cop told her that he did not need her information and she could (/should) go. The cyclist said he did need her information and she should stay. This was a red flag that caused me to stick around. I got her number on two of my business cards and tried to give the cyclist one. The officer told me I could not give someone who was under arrest anything, I said its just a business card. He took the business card from me. I told the cyclist I would post something to thechainlink.org so he can locate me if he doesn't still have her info. in the hopes of making this searchable I'm putting his name in the Tags, but I do not know if I have the spelling correct.
The bicyclist says he saw the officer weave a bit into the bike lane and knocked or banged on the car to alert the officer to his presence, the degree of force used for this knock was of some discussion ('a light tap?' 'no, loud enough that he could hear me' - 'he banged on my car hard, for no reason I was stopped')
Clearly blood was running hot, voices were raised but everyone was civil enough.
The cyclist asked what he was under arrest for the officer cited 'reckless conduct' or something vague and could not cite a statute number. The cyclist said he is a lawyer, threats of lawsuits for improper arrest/detainment were issued.
What a mess...
For what its worth:
I don't think any cyclist bangs on windows unprovoked. Your hand is worth more than the glass and is more breakable, that's pretty clear even when road rage of getting cut off runs high.
The cop probably was tired coming off a hard shift doing thankless work and did not have any patience left.
No damage was visible to the car or the cyclist.
I'm glad no one got hurt, but what are you supposed to do when a car cuts into the bike lane... and its an off duty cop!
If you are the cyclist, and you need the witnesses phone number, call me at: tree one too, cinco quarto tres, eighty seven, 41.
I wrote this up within an hour of what I saw, but I arrived too late to see the events leading up to the arrest and even now my memory grows fuzzy... I wish my gopro hadn't been out of batteries, or that the cyclist had had one. ugh.
Streetsblog article http://chi.streetsblog.org/2015/11/09/cyclist-arrested-by-allegedly...
Most recent Streetsblog article: http://chi.streetsblog.org/2015/11/13/witness-officer-drove-reckles...
You should call 311 and report this. It may not end up being an official Illinois Motorist Report, but there will an internal documentation by the City that this happened and that a cop was involved.
the cyclist got arrested for it and the arresting officer will have to file the paperwork which will include the off duty officer listed as the motorist. No need to file it twice in the system unless I'm missing something?
You SHOULD report this through 311. What the arresting officer puts in the report is likely to be a LOT different from your witness account.
Also, if the arrested cyclist is reading this, filing a complaint on this may be worth your time. They won't make it easy, but this kind of thing SHOULD be documented and investigated.
If you call you are a "witness" to the incident and they have to take down what you say. A witness documenting their version of events is different than just an "incident" being reported twice. The content of what the witness says has weight and merit.
You are right that if "the cops" were already called there is no point in calling twice. But giving a statement as a witness is a totally different thing with potentially a separate outcome.
If I witnessed that actual driving or knocking, I would feel more compelled to do so. I only arrived for the 'arrest' after the handcuffs were on. Likely there's not going to be too much discrepancy from that part of the story. Though based on my one experience going into a police station a day after getting doored to report it for statistics I don't have high faith in the accuracy of city/police records, when I got home I read what the officer had typed up and found he listed an intersection in River North when I had stated 'one block east of Olgivey Station' as the location... I'll reach out to the witness who stopped and ask her to file a 311 report since she actually saw something.
IMHO, you are a significant witness regarding the attempt by the reporting officer to discourage the first witness's attempt to offer her account.
This is the only thing I did witness that is of any significance, but the officer's words were pretty carefully selected. 'I don't need your statement, you could go' (in a tone that suggested 'should'). He could easily say that he wasn't trying to discourage her but simply to save her unnecessary time and effort. But it did help shape which side of the story I was inclined to believe. While it might be a relevant detail if the charges against the cyclist or a future lawsuit ever come up. I doubt that it would be worth reporting to 311 on its own.
As an FYI, I once called 911 about an enraged motorist who alleged he was an off-duty police officer. Once I mentioned the words "police officer," 911 would not do anything further and referred me to internal affairs. Which, of course, led nowhere.
Thanks for helping the cyclist and gathering information for them.
It's very upsetting to read this story. I agree, a cyclist doesn't typically knock on a car unless they are in danger. If you can touch a car with your hand when you are in the bike lane, the car is way too close to you. I noticed motorists don't react well to the tap or knock so I have taken to screaming (seriously, it works). It's sad we need to resort to these methods to make distracted motorists aware of our presence. Being an off-duty cop shouldn't have carried more weight so that the on-duty cop seemed to take his word over the witness and the cyclist.
Is the cyclist's name James?
Thanks for stopping! Going to police lock up on the way to work sucks. Having someone friendly stop to help get the word out helps- he won't be able to use a phone for hours...
Not James, not sure I want to put his name up publicly without his permission, so I'll stick to last name only: Liu or Lew or Liw ?
Liu. A well-known dude in the cycling community.