Memorial concert follows DA's decision not to charge driver who killed cyclist

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Amelie Le Moullac, shown with her cat Diesel, is being celebrated at a concert, but the driver who killed her won't face charges
http://amelielemoullac.com

In the wake of yesterday’s decision by the District Attorney’s Office not to bring criminal charges against the driver who killed 24-year-old Amélie Le Moullac as she cycled in the Folsom Street bike lanes on her way to work last August, her family will be holding a benefit concert this Friday (May 16) for Amélie’s Angels, a charity created in her name to benefit needy schoolchildren in Haiti.

The concert by Amelie’s mother, organist Jessie Jewitt, and other Bay Area musicians starts at 7:30pm in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, featuring the Palo Alto Philharmonic and Conducter Geoffrey Pope. Amélie’s friend and co-worker Steve Lynch, who told us the event will be both a memorial and a fundraiser, said he was disappointed by the DA’s office decision not to bring charges in the case.

“I personally find this to be very upsetting, particularly given the way her investigation was handled, but the main reason I wanted to write you was to see if you would be interested in mentioning the benefit concert. It's something that we're trying to do to get her family some closure,” Lynch told us.

As KQED reported yesterday, the DA’s Office decided there was insufficicient evidence to bring an involuntary manslaughter charge against delivery truck driver Gilberto Alcantar, who turned right at Sixth Street across Le Moullac’s path, killing her. The San Francisco Police Department had recommended criminal charges after initially conducting only a cursory investigation, an insult that was compounded by Sgt. Richard Ernst showing up and making insensitive, victim-blaming comments at a memorial event by cyclists at the scene of Le Moullac’s death. Afterward, bike activists asked nearby businesses if they has surveillance video of the accident, finding video that police had neglected to seek that led investigators to conclude that Alcantar didn’t have the right-of-way when he ran over Le Moullac.

The Board of Supervisors held hearings on how the SFPD conducts such investigations, and Police Chief Greg Suhr later apologized for Ernst’s comments and the faulty investigation and pledged to conduct more thorough investigations when motorists kill cyclists, including looking at the three other similar fatalities last year. Alcantar was never even given a traffic citation in the deadly accident, but Le Moullac’s family has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Alcantar and the company he was driving for at the time, Daylight Foods.

Since the accident, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has created new bike lanes and other markings on Folsom Street to more clearly delineate how bikes and cars should merge as they approach intersections so as to avoid the illegal “right hook” turns that are so dangerous to cyclists.

In a public statement announcing Amélie’s Angels and the benefit concert, Jewitt said, “Many people have asked me whether I was going to set up some type of fund or activity to improve the safety of SF streets for bicyclists. Although great improvements need to be made in this area, I leave it to advocates such as the Bicycle Coalition and other concerned individuals to petition for these changes. Amélie was not a cyclist. She was simply a young woman who thought that cycling to work would help the environment and would be a good form of exercise. In the days following her death, I felt her love so intensely, I knew I had to channel it into some activity that would directly enhance the lives of others.”

Comments

A DA's decision to prosecute or not is mostly based on his confidence in being able to convince a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt" (i.e, 98% sure) that a defendant committed a crime. I realize there is video of the incident. I haven't seen it, but unless it was perfectly positioned and in high-def, a good defense attorney could create a whole lot of doubt about the positioning of the truck and the bike. The Chris Bucchere fiasco shows what a waste of time using "video evidence" is. The city spent millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours, and all the guy got in the end was probation and a few years' worth of community service. Does that have any sort of deterrant effect whatsoever on cyclists (or motorists, who presumably would face the same threat if they hit a pedestrian)? Hardly. It was a farce, and a perfect example of what happens when emotions are allowed to take over what should be a coldly calculating process.

Even if the DA "wins", the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter is a year in the clink (that's the real injustice in the system, but a topic for another forum). If the family has a good lawyer for the civil suit, where the burden of proof is only "preponderance of the evidence" (50.0001%), they'll bankrupt the delivery company and financially ruin the driver's life for decades. That sounds a lot more like justice to me. Just ask O.J.

Posted by MissionRider on May. 13, 2014 @ 9:00 pm

A DA's decision to prosecute or not is mostly based on his confidence in being able to convince a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt" (i.e, 98% sure) that a defendant committed a crime. I realize there is video of the incident. I haven't seen it, but unless it was perfectly positioned and in high-def, a good defense attorney could create a whole lot of doubt about the positioning of the truck and the bike. The Chris Bucchere fiasco shows what a waste of time using "video evidence" is. The city spent millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours, and all the guy got in the end was probation and a few years' worth of community service. Does that have any sort of deterrant effect whatsoever on cyclists (or motorists, who presumably would face the same threat if they hit a pedestrian)? Hardly. It was a farce, and a perfect example of what happens when emotions are allowed to take over what should be a coldly calculating process.

Even if the DA "wins", the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter is a year in the clink (that's the real injustice in the system, but a topic for another forum). If the family has a good lawyer for the civil suit, where the burden of proof is only "preponderance of the evidence" (50.0001%), they'll bankrupt the delivery company and financially ruin the driver's life for decades. That sounds a lot more like justice to me. Just ask O.J.

Posted by MissionRider on May. 13, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

A DA's decision to prosecute or not is mostly based on his confidence in being able to convince a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt" (i.e, 98% sure) that a defendant committed a crime. I realize there is video of the incident. I haven't seen it, but unless it was perfectly positioned and in high-def, a good defense attorney could create a whole lot of doubt about the positioning of the truck and the bike. The Chris Bucchere fiasco shows what a waste of time using "video evidence" is. The city spent millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours, and all the guy got in the end was probation and a few years' worth of community service. Does that have any sort of deterrant effect whatsoever on cyclists (or motorists, who presumably would face the same threat if they hit a pedestrian)? Hardly. It was a farce, and a perfect example of what happens when emotions are allowed to take over what should be a coldly calculating process.

Even if the DA "wins", the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter is a year in the clink (that's the real injustice in the system, but a topic for another forum). If the family has a good lawyer for the civil suit, where the burden of proof is only "preponderance of the evidence" (50.0001%), they'll bankrupt the delivery company and financially ruin the driver's life for decades. That sounds a lot more like justice to me. Just ask O.J.

Posted by MissionRider on May. 13, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

A DA's decision to prosecute or not is mostly based on his confidence in being able to convince a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt" (i.e, 98% sure) that a defendant committed a crime. I realize there is video of the incident. I haven't seen it, but unless it was perfectly positioned and in high-def, a good defense attorney could create a whole lot of doubt about the positioning of the truck and the bike. The Chris Bucchere fiasco shows what a waste of time using "video evidence" is. The city spent millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man-hours, and all the guy got in the end was probation and a few years' worth of community service. Does that have any sort of deterrant effect whatsoever on cyclists (or motorists, who presumably would face the same threat if they hit a pedestrian)? Hardly. It was a farce, and a perfect example of what happens when emotions are allowed to take over what should be a coldly calculating process.

Even if the DA "wins", the maximum sentence for vehicular manslaughter is a year in the clink (that's the real injustice in the system, but a topic for another forum). If the family has a good lawyer for the civil suit, where the burden of proof is only "preponderance of the evidence" (50.0001%), they'll bankrupt the delivery company and financially ruin the driver's life for decades. That sounds a lot more like justice to me. Just ask O.J.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 9:03 pm

The DA is a politician first and foremost. He does whatever he thinks will get him re-elected. In this case George Gascon felt that enraging the SFBC and the bicycling community will lose him fewer votes than a prosecution would cost him support. Justice and fairness do not enter into the equation at all.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 9:10 pm

Do you have evidence he is running for higher office?

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

Do you have evidence that he is not running for re-election as DA?

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 11:52 pm

affirmative statement, and that is you.

Anyway, it seems fairly clear that there is reasonable doubt in this case, so it's a no go.

Sometimes an accident is just an accident

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:38 am

If the shoe fits Guest, you must wear it.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2014 @ 9:46 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 5:44 am

that I've considered printing up some cards to instruct drivers in the correct way to drive.

The DA's failure to bring charges here is a horrendous flub; a missed opportunity to get the message out to drivers on a wider scale as needs to be done.

Motor vehicle drivers need to get schooled in the fact that bicyclists have every bit as much right to be on the road as they do.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 14, 2014 @ 12:32 am

making a right turn, is that still a "right hook"?

Why didn't the cyclist hold back and wait for the turn?

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:39 am

Because the cyclist had the right-of-way to procede through the intersection and the driver who turned across her path did not.

Posted by steven on May. 14, 2014 @ 10:50 am

time the truck made the turn.

It may be that she was well behind the truck and so the truck was correct to start the turn. Then the turn stalled, Amelie caught up, and when the turn resumed, she was in the wrong place.

Also, bike lanes do not extend into an intersection. That is clear from the road markings.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:36 am

The DA is indeed a crass political animal who only protects those he can make a big show about "protecting"; only when it serves his political calculus.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 14, 2014 @ 1:09 am

There has to be reasonable doubt because the cyclist could have ridden more slowly and carefully

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:40 am

The bicyclist slave should have bowed down to the master in the truck and known their place in the fields.

Posted by marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:47 am
Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 6:14 am

Why not just say "the bitch asked for it?"

Posted by marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 6:51 am

The pedestrian deserved it!

Posted by Marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:06 am

I don't hit pedestrians. One hit me once. The SFPD processed my citizens arrest of him for assault.

Posted by marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:35 am

I guarantee it.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:46 am

You have no clue.

Posted by marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:59 am

Let us know when you have won your case. Until then the/ assumption has to be that he is not guilty.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:34 am
Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:44 am

Obviously.

Posted by marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:58 am

That is to be determined, but I'd guess it is not zero but probably less than half.

Enough for an insurance payout but not enough for a criminal prosecution.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 9:11 am

Normally, people like Marcos and Greg revel in the fact that it is very difficult for the DA to convict people of criminal charges in San Francisco, given San Francisco juries.

But let someone in a protected class get killed, and suddenly Marcos is demanding that the DA bring out the pitchforks and torches, irrespective of the actual chances of getting a conviction...

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:09 am

If you want to kill someone, be sure that your weapon of choice is a motor vehicle and your victim is a cyclist or pedestrian.

Posted by marcos on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:28 am
Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 8:45 am

Vehicular manslaughter doesn't have to involve criminal intent, only negligence. If you are driving a vehicle capable of killing someone, you have a responsibility do so carefully and without running over people. Besides, nobody is calling this a murder or even calling for this driver to do any jail time, but it's insulting that he can commit a traffic violation that results in loss of life and the criminal justice system does nothing. 

Posted by steven on May. 14, 2014 @ 10:53 am

accident. The driver here has also been through an ordeal, probably feels terrible, may have lost his job and may have to pay legal costs if his insurance won't.

Like you say, throwing him in prison achieves nothing and totally misses the point.

Unless it is gross negligence or something like road rage, it is best handled via civil claims.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:33 am

Most think that negligent behavior behind a motor vehicle which leads to the injury or death of another person deserves prosecution.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2014 @ 11:44 pm

Those of you who gripe about entitlement and quibble over negligence vs. intent are ignoring the salient point of this article, which is to say that there's a concert in Amelie's name on Friday that benefits children of Haiti.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:07 am

promoted through all this "quibbling" with trolls, so the memory of Amelie Le Moullacl and her wish to help the children of Haiti are thereby served because this story is high on the list of stories that are most commented on.

This is just another funny way that trolls can make themselves useful.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 14, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

Haiti - France enslaved and brutalized Haitians for centuries.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

@Guest: Please keep your negativity to yourself. A young woman died suddenly and tragically, her family and close friends (myself included) are mourning her and memorializing her through this concert, and bringing in the fact that she has a French last name to trivialize a charitable effort in her name after this awful accident is pointless, immature and irrelevant.

This article is meant to bring attention to the seed of good that's being planted in the wake of tragedy. Let's focus our attention on that.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 7:20 am

SFBG readers have tot ake that into account.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 8:52 am

One of the problems with the Channel Seven hit piece its shows a short grainy segment of SFCAM 3 at a odd angle. If you look long enough times you can see the bike tire just in front of the truck. With out more footage or eyewitness account its pretty much speculation in what happen. In a You tube, a rider from the Netherlands noted how the American on there Tour de France seems to race wherever they go. Could Amelie Le Moullac have been trying to pass a slower moving bobtail, after all what a wonderful story it would have made over coffee. In Stanly Roberts people behaving badly there is one segment where thirteen bicycle were ticked for running stops signs among many other segments. What you need to do before condemning the drive of the bobtail is to ride shotgun on one of them. You will soon find out they are a awkward vehicle to drive especially when you have traffic now passing both on the right and the left.

Here is something that I learned in my twenty year of riding a motorcycle.
1. Everybody and everything is out the kill you.
2. Never assumed to have the right a way even if you do.
3. If you want to lock horns with 3000 pounds you will loose.
4. Defensive driving, defensive driving, defensive driving. It do not matter rather you are on a bicycle, automobile, motorcycle, or just walking these rules apply to each and all of us. If you want to be dare to be stupid, have a short and exciding life.

If you plan to ride in a congested area ride with a light on during the day. I was reminded of this fact as I was driving up my local block even when you are looking for them there are hard to spot.

Posted by The odd duck on May. 14, 2014 @ 11:27 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2014 @ 6:32 am

should have merged into the bike lane. There should have been no lane for Amelie to pass the bobtail driver on the right with even if she was traveling faster than the larger vehicle--itself a doubtful premise.

Right-turning drivers are supposed to yield to bicyclists who are in the bike lanes to their right and merge when there is room to do so; just like changing lanes at any other time. Only after such drivers have merged with the bike lane (and thereby left room for bicycles to pass them on their left in the space vacated in that lane) are they allowed to make a right turn.

From your description of the video, it provides absolutely no exculpatory information. A motor vehicle driver can run down another road user head-on, in reverse, or making a turn, and it means nothing which way it was.

By-the-way, I appreciate your comments about understanding the vulnerable nature and your experience of being a motorcycle rider, but just the same I'll point out here that often motocycle riders seem to have no more respect for the rights of bicyclists than any other type of driver--or the San Francisco DA.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 16, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

it has a wide turning radius.

Amelie should have realized that, but was inexperienced and new to the city.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 5:43 am

pontificates facetiously about one of the locals' tenure in The City.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 18, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

Why is it whenever someone disagrees with progressives, they automatically label them as being "from out-of-town"? Don't like arrogant bicyclists or automatically blame drivers in collisions? "You're from out of town." Don't like the homeless being allowed to jerk off and do drugs in the library? "Quiet East Coaster." Don't mind if police shoot a suspect (whatever his skin color) who points a weapon at them? "Stay in Texas." Don't like pandering to illegal immigrants? "How's the Midwest working out for you?"

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 3:24 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

down Folsom and drive a truck down Folsom some days.

I can say the person your idiocy is directed towards is correct. No matter where they live.

It shocks "progressives" that non believers might live here.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

then it would seem wise to make sure not to kill anybody while making an illegal turn. The only alternative is to say that bicyclists have no business using the roads or must expect to be killed while doing so.

An honest-acting DA would have pressed charges to ensure future safe behavior by truck drivers.

ps--I have absolutely no illusions about there being a sizable cohort of right-wingers in San Francisco; it is simply that the trolls here aren't so likely to be among them and they often tend to give themselves away through local malapropisms and repetitive patters of duplicity.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 19, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

anticipated a wide turn and held back rather than charging forwards into turning traffic

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

Grandpa, you haven't driven an 18 wheeler since you retired, you can't fool me. If you mean the F-250 you keep in the garage with the trailer hitch, sure.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 20, 2014 @ 11:46 pm

"Why is it whenever someone disagrees with progressives, they automatically label them as being "from out-of-town"?"

Projection. Almost all San Francisco progressives are from out of town.

Posted by Guest on May. 18, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

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