Friday, July 03, 2009

Now a misdo

Hoopa driver now faces misdemeanor charge
The Thursday preliminary hearing for a Hoopa man accused of hitting and killing a cyclist last summer saw his felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor.

After the fifth preliminary hearing for 27-year-old defendant Alan Bear, Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos asked the court to withdraw the charge of gross negligence in the matter.

A revised statement from the reporting officer was submitted to Gallegos, who then altered the charges.

”The facts didn't change ... but the officer's opinion changed,” Gallegos said after the hearing.

The death was tragic and “completely preventable” but the change in the officer's report was based on a reevaluation of the event, Gallegos said.

”Further investigation proved that it was not gross negligence or at least that we couldn't prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt,” he said.

Gross negligence, as defined in California statute, is an act done with such careless disregard for the safety of others' lives that it is likely to cause foreseeable injury.

Bear now faces charges of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, providing false information to a police officer and making an unsafe lane change that killed 42-year-old bicyclist and local botanist Gregory Jennings.

Local cyclists who attended the court session were unhappy with the decision.

Rick Knapp of the Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association said he was “very disappointed.”

”It's just hard to imagine that somebody is charged with normal negligence when he was completely off the shoulder (of the road),” Knapp said.

The large amount of space Bear drifted from the road should be considered a radical departure and thus gross negligence, Knapp said. With this reduction in charges, Knapp said cyclists seem to have the “same rights as a squirrel” on the road in Humboldt County.


  1. Hummm.
    Doesn't pass the smell test.
    Probably more vote potential on the Reservation than from the Humboldt chapter of Critical Mass.

  2. Guess those big campaign contributions of 10 grand from each tribe really paid off. How much was that 20 or 30 thousand dollars? Bike riders donations = 0

    But you get what you vote for. Aren't you bike riders from Arcata happy now? The dim wit DA has lost the PL case, the Debi August case, so many others and now has relegated this matter to the opinion of the cop as opposed to giving the evidence to the judge.

    Humboldt justice = 0. My sympathies to the bike rider's family and friends.

  3. What?

    gags said: "Further investigation proved that it was not gross negligence or at least that we couldn't prove it beyond the shadow of a doubt,”

    He bozo, that is not the legal standard. It is beyond a reasonable doubt.

    I feel so very sorry for the Jennings family. No wonder this town is in the top 100 crime ridden places in the nation. I hope that the cycling community comes out and condemns gags for being such an imbecile here.

    Murl H. was right, it has become a hell hole.


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