Cop ran stop sign without lights or siren, creamed bike rider in Humboldt Park
Content warning: This post includes a video of a bike rider being struck (but not seriously injured) by a police officer.
Update 9/13/22, 2:15 PM: Local alder Daniel LaSpata (1st) contacted Streetsblog to say that, after learning about the crash via this article, he’s having his staff follow up about the incident with the 14th Police District.
Update 9/12/22, 4:30 PM: After the publication of this piece, Police News Affairs responded to Streetsblog’s question about whether the officer could potentially face disciplinary action, simply stating, “There is an open investigation into that incident.”
The motto “We serve and protect” is written on the side of Chicago police vehicles. Two of the most important things officers are supposed to be doing to keep residents safe are enforcement of traffic laws and responding to crashes. But when police ignore the very traffic rules they’re tasked with enforcing, that further erodes public trust in a force that has well-documented problems with abuse of power.
In the grand scheme of things, an incident last Thursday morning in which a Chicago police officer ran a four-way stop sign in Humboldt Park and struck a bike rider wasn’t that big a deal – luckily it appears the victim was not seriously injured. But it’s a more little evidence that some members of the force continue to believe they’re above the law.
Streetsblog learned about the case from security camera footage from El Yunque Food & Liquors, 1900 N. California Ave., which was posted on Twitter. The store is a block north of an access ramp for The 606 elevated greenway, aka the Bloomingdale Trail.
— CHICAGO CRITTER (@ChicagoCritter) September 10, 2022
At the beginning of the short clip, we see the bike rider, who appears to be a male teen or young adult, on the sidewalk at the northeast corner of Cortland and California avenues. He seems to have been cycling north before making a 90-degree turn on the sidewalk to head west in the crosswalk at the north leg of the intersection. (Yes, it’s illegal for people over 12 to bike on Chicago sidewalks, but in locations that lack bike infrastructure, riding on the sidewalk is somewhat understandable.)
As the youth proceeds west across California in the crosswalk, the southbound police SUV appears in the frame, with no emergency lights activated and, presumably, no siren either. Its driver approaches the stop sign at California, but does not seem to hit the brakes at all, let alone come to a complete stop as required by law. The bike rider turns his handlebars to the left, perhaps in an effort to avoid the vehicle. But the officer broadsides the cyclist, and doesn’t come to a stop until the victim is already on the hood.
The young person falls to the ground and immediately gets ups, then turns around and takes a few steps towards the SUV. He raises his arms, but it’s not clear whether he’s doing that to demonstrate that he’s unarmed, or simply out of exasperation. The bike rider then turns around again and goes to pick up his cycle as the officer who was driving gets out of the vehicle and walks towards him.
Police News Affairs confirmed the incident took place on Thursday, September 8, at about 10:50 a.m. “A CPD squad car [driver] struck a bicyclist. The bicyclist was traveling westbound on Cortland at California. The male bicyclist refused [emergency medical services.] He did not want a report and left on his own accord.”
News Affairs did not respond to a follow-up question about whether the officer may face disciplinary measures for running a stop sign without activating the lights and siren.
I suppose that the one thing to be said in defense of this officer is that at least he reported the incident to his superiors, assuming CPD didn’t learn about it from the video footage like we did. This crash has parallels to a 2017 hit-and-run Chicago cop-cyclist collision that went unreported, which turned out to be very expensive for both the city and the offending officer.
On October 17, 2017, at about 2:30 p.m. veteran CPD officer Patrick Cain was on duty and behind the wheel of a police SUV when he struck Alexander Garber on his bike at Bryn Mawr and Oriole avenues in the Norwood Park neighborhood, according to the Sun-Times. That intersection also has four-way stop signs. Garber, who was thrown onto the hood, suffered a shoulder injuries that eventually required two surgeries.
According to a lawsuit filed by Garber, Cain got out of the SUV and asked if the bike rider needed an ambulance, which the victim declined. However the officer did not tell his superiors about the incident, or report the large dent on the hood, as required by CPD policy. The suit stated that Cain was fired after a department investigation of the case.
In June of this year, a Cook County jury found the city and Cain liable for $2.25 million in damages to Garber, the Sun-Times reported.