Judge rules against motorcyclist who hit protester in SLO

May 6, 2021

A judge ruled on Wednesday that the motorcyclist who collided with a Black Lives Matter protester in San Luis Obispo last year may not have his criminal case dismissed through a misdemeanor diversion program. [Tribune]

On Sept. 2, 2020, motorcyclist David Medzyk revved his bike and turned left from Los Osos Street into a lane on Higuera Street where protesters Josephine Amarachi and Artemisia Shine were standing outside the crosswalk and demonstrating. After he drove past Amarachi and Shine, Medzyk struck protester LeiYahna Jefferson, who was yelling into a bullhorn at drivers from the crosswalk. Jefferson was not seriously injured, though she told investigators she experienced pain in her arm and leg from the collision.

Following the incident, Medzyk drove to the San Luis Obispo police station and filed a report claiming those in the crosswalk attempted to knock his motorcycle down. Police, however, recommended prosecutors charge Medzyk with one misdemeanor count of reckless driving.

Officers also cited Amarachi and Shine for obstructing traffic. The California Vehicle Code requires pedestrian outside a crosswalk to yield the right-of-way to vehicles so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

The SLO County District Attorney’s Office charged Medzyk with two misdemeanor counts of reckless driving. One of the counts alleges Medzyk injured a person.

Reckless driving is defined as driving a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others.

Medzyk pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested Judge Hernaldo Baltodano grant him pre-trial misdemeanor diversion, which would ultimately result in prosecutors dismissing the case. The misdemeanor diversion program allows a defendant to complete community service, classes or a restorative justice option instead of risking a criminal conviction and jail time.

A bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last September created the diversion program. The law stipulates that all records of the person’s arrest disappear from the defendant’s criminal record following successful completion of the terms.

On Wednesday, Baltodano said he watched cell phone footage of the September incident at least a dozen times, and the video is incredibly telling. The footage tipped his decision to deny Medzyk misdemeanor diversion. If there had not been the video footage, his decision likely would have gone the other way, Baltodano said.

Medzyk is a veteran, longtime resident of SLO County, has no prior criminal history and is amenable to restitution. But, upon watching the video, the collision appeared intentional, the judge said

In ruling against the diversion program, Baltodano also stated Medzyk used hyperbole or made a false statement to police when he claimed the protesters tried to knock down his motorcycle.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitzpatrick said last week she offered a deal to Medzyk in which he would plead no contest to a single count of reckless driving in exchange for a 30-day jail sentence, a fine of $1,150 and 80 hours of community service.

A pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for next month.


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DJB

I didn’t know San Luis Obispo has a “Los Osos Street”


Stunned

So the poor pitiful protester is “yelling into a bullhorn at drivers from the crosswalk” and the dude lost his cool. How about they congregate in the park and yell and hop around all they’d like instead!?


I’m about sick of this nonsense. This guy will pay for what he did, don’t get me wrong he should but, enough is enough with the tail wagging the dog.


Fleet

I doubt the motorcyclist intended any injury to the jaywalker. I’d say he was frustrated by being delayed by the three jaywalkers. Just because the light is green doesn’t give the pedestrian the right of way. Remember, the big red hand means stop, don’t cross. Big green hand means cross with caution.


retiredpoliceofficer

This is a great one and gives you an idea of how the justice system works. To convict a person of a crime a jury has to find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The whiz kid judge says he watched the video over a dozens times to determine if Medzy was eligible for diversion.


.Dah..that sounds like reasonable doubt to me, Take a transcript of what the judge said to the pretrial conference and have the case dismissed .


If you can find a judge that will not bow to Black Lives Matter. Then you have to find a D.A. with the balls to go against his boss who has stood up to BLM.


It doesn’t make any difference if the guy on the motorcycle was reckless driving or not it cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. He’ll need a decent attorney and $25,000 to get it done.


MrYan

Do you really not understand how the law works—retiredpoliceofficer?


You have a right to a jury trial, but not everyone chooses that route. He waived his right.

Judge’s try cases without juries all the time. Is this really news to you?


Buchon

“…You have a right to a jury trial, but not everyone chooses that route…”



Not everyone can afford a jury trial.


honestopinion

Here’s the thing if you’re in the wrong you’re in the wrong. The motorcyclist intentionally hit a pedestrian in a green light crosswalk. Watch the video… the person he hit is IN the cross walk. Yes 2 other people are outside the cross walk but he hit the one inside the cross walk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4aTfEGofnQ&t=9s The motorcyclist was wrong. What the person in the crosswalk was doing at the time doesn’t matter. And he should be prosecuted.


Just as Tatiana should be prosecuted for her actions when she falsely imprisoned and obstructed free movement of a person in a public place resisting and delaying a police officer.


Buchon

Clean record. Military veteran. Longtime, stable resident. Seems like this would have been the perfect case in which to apply the “misdemeanor diversion program.” Instead, politics clearly got in the way. Just another example of something broken.


I wonder what those who claim “video does not lie”, will conclude should Arata and company get off, again, due to politics?


bamboo

From the video I have seen, she should not get off. What she did is not ok in any way.


I say this from the stand point that were it not for Covid I would have been at the initial protest (I would have high tailed it out of there once things stopped being peaceful though).


honestopinion

Here’s the thing if you’re in the wrong you’re in the wrong. The motorcyclist intentionally hit a pedestrian in a green crosswalk. Watch the video… the person he hit is IN the cross walk. Yes 2 other people are out side the cross walk but he hit the one inside the cross walk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4aTfEGofnQ&t=9s. The motorcyclist was wrong. What the person in the crosswalk was doing at the time doesn’t matter. And he should be prosecuted.

Just as Tatiana should be prosecuted for her actions when she falsely imprisoned, obstructed free movement of a person in a public place, resisting and delaying a police officer.


paragon

Video doesn’t lie and the punishments match what it showed. The protesters shouldn’t have been blocking traffic in the crosswalk and the motorcycle shouldn’t have tried to run them over. Both groups got a punishment appropriate for their crime. Perhaps everyone can try to be more civil moving forward.


isoslo

Another waste of time. Let him pay a small fine and give him a year of probation and move on to prosecuting real criminals, there is no need for jail time.


Buchon

The best comment of the bunch. Thank you.