Saturday, March 21, 2009

Officer Solorzano of the Twin Cities PD, CA: Fail.

Today I left for a 3 hour ride - full of intervals and a near final long ride before racing New Orleans 70.3 in 2 weeks.  As I headed out - I got onto my TT bars and got into high Z2 or about 22-23mph.  As I rode through Fairfax I had to swerve around some potholes to avoid being knocked off my bike or wrecking a tire. As I did this - a car behind me didn't like it and he pulled next to me and started screaming at me. Since I'm somewhat sensitive to having a car threaten me while on a bike - I mean, last time that happened a few years ago - I got chased by the guy and punched in the head a few times.  I told him to pull over and get out of the car where I would call the police if I had so aggrieved him.  He continued to yell at me from his car while I grabbed my phone and tried to get it out of the baggie I keep it in and take a photo of his license plate and call 911.  The driver swerved and pulled into the bike path and stopped, I struggled to get the phone out and while I did - he took off.

I gave chase - knowing that there were a few stop signs where I might catch a better photo of him or get him to stop long enough and call the police.  He continue to shout threats as I chased.  At the 3rd stop signal/sign - he was about 20cm ahead of me - but I saw a police car sitting there in position that I've seen before - set to catch cyclists.  I quickly wheeled left - figuring the officer could catch the guy faster than I could.  As I raced up to the officer I immediately said 'HELP, there's a guy in a black mercedes who just threatened me numerous times and tried to hit me with his car'.  The officer looked at me and said 'is that what you say to get out of a ticket'? 

I balked at what I just heard.

He said "get off your bike and get in front of my car".

I repeated myself again and said I had a partial license plate and could he go down the road and stop the guy - I said I'd wait. 

He said 'I saw no black car' and began to slowly pull out his ticket book.

I asked if he could radio ahead and stop the guy.  Officer Solorzano ignored me. 

I said "if I was trying to avoid a ticket do you think I'd really turn around and ride up to you"? 

At this point my HR was 170 as I stood there -my Garmin had recorded all of the stops and starts, my skyrocketing HR and where I was - I could prove just about everything I had said - except I had no picture. 

I gave him a real piece of my mind at what might have been the top of my lungs.  I was careful to avoid threats and curses - except the ones I put on him as well as the pox on his family.

I figured this would get me in more trouble, so I kept quiet.

He continued to write - asking me the usual questions:

  • Drivers License: no.
  • Why: I'm not driving a car and I don't have to have one.
  • Name, Address, etc..

At this point he knew I was NOT HAPPY and was possibly rattled as he asked me for my area code.  "415" I barked.

He then asked me why I didn't call 911.  I said I tried but had to get my phone out of the baggie but I couldn't do it while riding.

I paced in front of his car.  Then he yelled at me and said get on the sidewalk - walking around in the road he said 'was dangerous'. 

I didn't know what to say.  Walking in front of a police car with the door open and the police officer standing next to the car on a dead street was 'dangerous'.  He was so concerned for my safety but wouldn't lift a finger to keep some psycho from hurting a cyclist, now or likely in the future. 

He asked me 'don't you ever carry water bottles in my back pocket?  I said no.  Not sure what he wanted with this line of questioning - he said, "you NEVER carry a water bottle in your back pocket"? 

I looked at my bike with 2 full bottles on it - with the rear bottle carrier and said, "no NEVER". 

I assume he thought that if I did do that, I could easily make a call while riding - which would mean I would of course have to unwrap my cell phone, turn it on, enter the security phone, dial 911 and wait for someone to respond. 

I knew that if I couldn't provide a license #, they would do nothing.  So what choice did I have?  The officer said they could have done something if I had called, instead I chose to ask for help from a real live useless cop.

At this point a 2nd officer rolls up with HIS LIGHTS ON and comes over to us.  I said that I couldn't believe how he could not have ever lifted his radio and called ahead to verify my story and stop a black Mercedes - who had made numerous attempts to use his car to threaten me. 

He continued with his line 'I saw no black car'.  The officer was committed to issuing me a ticket, which I did not care about - I mean, go ahead I have a $9,000 bike I'm sitting on, your $100 ticket isn't a big deal. 

He gave me a citation and asked if I had anything else to say.  What I said was to his supervisor when I lodged a formal complaint against him this afternoon.  Officer Solorzano, serial # 219, you fail.  Boo.

Bonus: the best part of the whole episode was that he wrote down that I was 5'10" and 173lbs.  I mean, I lost 7lbs - which is awesome.  So I'll take that! 


Kelly said...

you should have told him you have $9000 bike what do you care if he write you a ticket

Loren Pokorny said...

I did. I figured he was so set on giving me the ticket that it wasn't going to get worse. It's sad that was all he had to do. Cyclists in Marin can't possibly be the biggest problem in Larkspur.

Greg Remaly said...

wow, what a story! I'm so furious just reading this, i can't imagine how i would've reacted myself during the whole thing.

i've heard so much shit in the past few months from cyclists trying to ride in Marin. There's a war against us, the drivers and the police are dead set against us. I haven't ridden outdoors in Marin in like three weeks and I quite likely I won't ever again - fortunately.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, cycling in Marin sucks, what with its 4 climbs to Mt Tam and HWY 1. Stooppeeed amazingly beautiful Marin.

I say let's all become hipsters and ride fixies in the city. I've always wanted to take up smoking, and grow a five-day-o'clock shadow and wear more black.

Loren, the next time Johnny Law gets out of his car to cite you... attack and go up the road on him. Make 'em catch ya first. You can say you were just doing intervals, and who knows, if their are enough escape routes, you might save yourself some dough that day.