A decision by a police officer not to charge a pickup truck driver who allegedly taunted bicyclists in Texas before hitting and injuring them has been questioned by the cycling community.
Police in Waller County, Texas, confirmed six cyclists were hit by a pickup truck in September. Three of the riders suffered serious injuries.
The riders were training for Ironman Texas, the local news station KHOU.com reported. A witness said the teen driver of the pickup had been rolling coal on the cyclists before the crash meaning he was using his truck to blow exhaust fumes in their faces to harass them. He then crashed into several cyclists in front of his truck. Although the driver stayed on the scene, he was not charged with a crime at the time of the incident.
The story made national headlines and brought criticism on the police department. Waller Police said on its Facebook page days after the incident that it was still under investigation.
Almost a week after the incident, all six cyclists were reported to have left the hospital but some reported serious injuries. Cycling advocates criticized the fact no charges had been brought in the case.
Joe Cutrufo, executive director with BikeHouston, warned cyclists are very familiar with dealing with dangerous drivers on the roads of Texas.
“Justice is not blind apparently in Waller County,” Cutrufo said. “This person was looking for trouble and still walked away without as much as a slap on the wrist. If somebody were to hurt six people with anything else they would’ve been arrested on the spot.”
The cyclists have retained legal counsel to bring possible civil lawsuits against the 16-year-old pickup driver.
KHOU.11 reported the Waller County District Attorney’s office has been inundated with messages from people across the state and county demanding the pickup truck driver be charged. The District Attorney is asking people to file their complaints with the mayor or police chief instead.
The DA’s office suggested rolling coal could constitute an assault on its Facebook page. “Rolling coal when a person is in the vicinity and when the individual rolling coal intentionally or knowingly causes that excess exhaust to contact that bystander is at a minimum an assault,” the DA’s Office stated.
“They are causing their vehicle to ‘spit’ on a living, breathing, human being that is worthy of dignity and not having his or her person violated. That simple assault is easily elevated to a jail eligible offense if bodily injury occurs, which can be caused by entry of toxic particles into mouth, nose,and eyes. Waller County law enforcement agencies all across the county are being reminded today of the availability of these and other charges which can be brought against individuals acting in such a criminal manner. The underlying investigation and gathering of evidence by Waller P.D. Is still progressing. Thank you for your input and the positive exchanges we have seen to educate those who are ignorant of this commonplace occurrence.” The statement continued.
People who intentionally cause injury to others by the use of a vehicle may be charged with an aggravated assault in Texas, a second-degree felony that carries a sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison.
If you have been charged with an offense on the roads of Texas, please contact our Dallas defense attorneys as soon as possible at (214) 720-9552.