Police arrest bicyclist in San Francisco road rage attack
Police have arrested a man they say is the Critical Mass bicyclist seen on video blocking a San Francisco motorist then bashing her car with a U-lock as she tried to escape.
On Saturday, San Francisco police on bike patrol near a music concert spotted Ian Hespelt on his bicycle and determined the mustachioed 39-year-old and his ride matched the description of the suspect from the Aug. 28 incident.
Video of the incident showed a group of bicyclists, who police think were part of a Critical Mass “splinter group” that peeled off from riders downtown and headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge, surrounding a woman in a Zipcar and shouting at her and hitting her car.
Critical Mass riders cruise through downtown the last Friday of every month.
The video, posted on YouTube, shows at least a dozen cyclists initially crossing Marina Boulevard in a marked crosswalk before steering into lanes and toward oncoming, slow-moving traffic.
On the video, one cyclist appears to stop directly in front of a Zipcar, which slowly creeps forward and bumps the bike’s tire.
“Hey, stop that!” the cyclist yells before he lays down his bike in front of the car and walks to the driver’s window.
Other cyclists are seen surrounding the car as other vehicles keep their distance.
“You ain’t going nowhere! Put it in park!” someone is heard yelling.
“You’re really going to run me over for stopping for five minutes?” another person is heard saying.
A cyclist, apparently the one whose bike was bumped, is heard telling the female driver that once police arrive on the scene, “You’re done.”
Others yell that she has nowhere to go as about half a dozen cyclists surround her car.
The video shows the driver back up and steer right to go around the group, but they roll in front of her again, trapping her. The driver is heard yelling something to the cyclists about them standing there, then slowly rolls her car forward.
One man lifts his bicycle and slams it on top of her car hood. As the car rolls forward, another cyclist begins smashing the hood with a U-lock. He also hits the driver’s side window and a passenger window as the woman drives off.
Police say the man who smashed the lock on the car was Hespelt.
He was booked on suspicion of false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, maliciously and willfully throwing a substance at a vehicle and misdemeanor inciting a riot.
San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza said that although no one involved in the incident filed a police report, authorities investigated because of public interest in the case and because it was caught on video.
The incident took place about 7 p.m. in the Marina district, Esparza said.
The initial contact between the woman’s car and the single bicycle would be investigated as a collision, Esparza said.
“The best thing [they] can do is call police before it escalated,” Esparza said. “One way or another you’re going to have to share the road, no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Esparza added. “Being surrounded by bicyclists and having them thrown at your car can panic somebody.”
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