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Reserve cop placed on leave for video about running over bicyclists

Santa Paula reserve officer apologizes for video joking about running down cyclists
Santa Paula police chief says he was embarrassed by a reservist's video trashing bicyclists

A reserve officer with the Santa Paula Police Department who made a YouTube video joking about running over bicyclists apologized Saturday, saying in a Facebook posting that the footage was satirical.

"I would like to apologize to all those who have been offended by what was intended to be a satirical video on cyclists," said Laura Weintraub, a personal trainer and three-year reserve on the 28-officer small-town force. "The response from the cycling community has made me aware of the sport and its safety issues and challenges with drivers on the road of which I was completely unaware."

The video, published Friday, unleashed a barrage of criticism on the department's Facebook page against Weintraub, the department and Police Chief Steve McLean.

McLean said Saturday he had placed Weintraub and Michael Gray, a volunteer officer who made light of and defended the video on the Facebook page, on leave pending an investigation.

"It's embarrassing, and I understand why people are upset," said McLean, who became chief a year ago after 32 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "I understand what she was trying to do, to be funny.... But I was horrified with what she said and what she did, and they do not reflect my views or the views of the department."

The video shows Weintraub riding in a car providing commentary on bicyclists she passes on the road.

"I hate bicyclists, every single one of them," she says, looking into the camera and smiling.

Lamenting the dearth of cyclists on the road, she says, "I'm hoping we'll run over some soon -- or run into some soon, so I can actually make this video for you."

Later spotting a rider on the shoulder, she says, "Looking good in that spandex, buddy -- no one ever said."

The video ends with a still shot of a car smashing into a bunch of cyclists, captioned "Like you've never thought of it."

"I will never cycle in your county and I hope others won't as well," Shana Buterbaugh posted on the department's Facebook page.

"Meet Laura Weintraub, horrible person, incompetent videographer, and utter moron," said a Twitter poster with the handle bikesnobNYC who linked to the video.

Weintraub, in her Facebook apology, said she had taken down the video, but it was quickly reposted Saturday by others.

McLean said critics had taken a post he made weeks earlier about grabbing a cold beer after a hard day and twisted it to appear to be his commentary on the video.

"That's why a lot of people are bashing me," he said. "Some idiot out there took a statement that had nothing to do with anything and applied it here."

McLean also denied accusations that he removed critical posts, saying it was the work of a volunteer or administrator.

@geholland

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