In April, Transit Miami wrote of an incredibly positive experience a cyclist had with the enforcement efforts of the Miami Beach Police Dept after being threatened by an aggressive driver. As the victim of the driver in the incident, I would like to take a moment to follow up on that story.
The State Attorney's Office filed Aggravated Assault (Assault with a Deadly Weapon) charges and I originally had recommended the driver submit to anger management, and alternative transportation education as a suitable resolution. Upon completion of said classes, I would be satisfied that the driver would not continue to threaten the lives of cyclists on the road, and would be content with the charges being dropped. The driver, however, feels that he has done no wrong and turned down this option in favor of a 'not guilty' plea.
Fighting for justice has been an incredibly uphill battle. It seems I have to prove to everyone that as a cyclist I have a right to be on the road. Between the State Attorneys Office, the defendant, and even the judge I have encountered extreme 'modal bias' - the judge has seen the video and does not believe the behavior in question to be assault. Further, I was told that 'I should have been riding further to the right'. Those familiar with the area on Alton Road where this happened know that 'further to the right' is a parking lane, which would not only have been unsafe to do, but I believe also illegal.
Take a look at the video of the incident, and consider the Florida Statutes definition of Aggravated Assault:
(784.011) An “assault” is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.
(784.021) (1)An “aggravated assault” is an assault: (a)With a deadly weapon without intent to kill
Even when the driver is simply tailing me and honking his horn, it is a behavior intended to intimidate me to move off the road… or else! That is exactly what Assault with a Deadly Weapon is as defined by the 2010 Florida Statutes.
The Judge in this case, Jorge Cueto, has made it very clear that he intents to drop this case on Monday morning, July 17th. Apparently video of the assault is insufficient evidence. I'd ask that anyone available at 9:30 in the morning will take this opportunity to show up at the courtroom of the Honorable Judge Cueto and show that this behavior while driving a motor vehicle cannot be tolerated. We need to make a stand so that one day, you and I can commute to work using our preferred means of transportation, whatever that may be, without fear of death.
Those who are unable to attend the hearing, or who hear of this too late, please help to spread the word. We must stand up for our right to be on the road, and for protection of our constitutionally inalienable right to life.