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The police are much in the news of late and some activists contend the cops are too severe when dealing with minorities. On the other hand, as Brad Brannan writes in the Sacramento Bee, the California Highway Patrol might be too lenient when they deal with privileged members of the ruling class.
On November 2, Superior Court Judge Matthew Gary at the wheel of his 2014 Toyota Tundra, struck cyclist Margaret Bengs, 66, a Sacramento Bee columnist and former speechwriter for Gov. George Deukmejian. Bengs died two days later. The Nov. 4 CHP press release said Gary was wearing his seatbelt and driving less than 35 mph. The cyclist Bengs “failed to clear the traffic lane by lane” and “was not wearing a helmet.”
How did the CHP know Gary was wearing his seatbelt and driving less than 35 mph? Apparently they just took his word for it, before any formal investigation of the accident. Bengs’ helmet arrived at the hospital with the rest of her clothes, so the charge that she was not wearing a helmet is strange. A helmet can easily get knocked off in a collision with a vehicle weighing nearly 5,000 pounds.
The CHP press release says the cyclist “was struck by the front of the Toyota Tundra” but does not indicate whether Gary, the driver, struck Bengs from behind. If he was going less than 35 mph, it should not have been difficult for Gary to see a cyclist in broad daylight and stop his vehicle before impact. Was the judge perhaps negligent? Who had the right of way?
The CHP did not identify Gary as a judge and Gary wasn’t talking to reporters. CHP spokeswoman Jenna Berry told Brannan she could not say where Gary’s truck hit the bike, or where the bike was at the time of impact. An investigation was still pending but Berry told the reporter “Everything indicates that she may have responsibility for the accident.” So it looks like the results are already in and the victim is to blame for her own death. The CHP may give Judge Gary the benefit of the doubt, but the appointee of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not exactly get good reviews for his performance on the bench.