Bike vs car: The rest of the story

By now you all have seen this story of an off-the-rails cyclist in Mill Valley, California who beat an innocent motorist and sent him to the hospital in what the San Francisco Chronicle calls a road rage attack.

Marin County Cyclist Jeffery Smock road rage attack

This “man bites dog” story of a cyclist who sends a motorist to the hospital is compelling to Chronicle readers, but there is another side of the story.

Note: the below is secondhand information.

The information reported in the Chron and other local news resources mostly repeat the narrative given by Mill Valley Police, which makes no mention of the stupid, belligerent drunks allegedly occupying the vehicle.

A Kentfield bicyclist has been arrested for allegedly violently assaulting and injuring a man over an apparent road rage incident in Mill Valley earlier this month, police said Friday. The assault happened around 5 p.m. on April 16 near the intersection of East Blithedale Avenue and Camino Alto Avenue, according to police. Mill Valley police Officer Rob Dehner was in the area of Camino Alto Avenue when he heard the sounds of car horns and people shouting.

As he drove toward the noise to investigate, police dispatch began getting multiple 911 calls reporting an assault happening at the intersection of Camino Alto and East Blithedale avenues, according to police. Police said Dehner arrived on the scene to find many people standing around a man lying in the street with blood on his face and on the ground. The victim was taken to a hospital with serious injuries and later released. Investigators learned that a man on a bicycle had gotten into a traffic dispute with the victim, who had been driving his small pickup truck.

The dispute turned violent and the suspect, later identified as 40-year-old Jeffery Smock, started assaulting the driver, police said. Police located and arrested Smock on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and booked him into Marin County Jail. Anyone with additional information on this case is asked to call Mill Valley police Detective Sgt. Steven Heisinger at (415) 389-4100. Anonymous tips may be given by calling (415) 721-4547.

According to some who were there, Smock was indeed hit by the mirror on the pickup truck. The two drunk occupants of the truck then stopped, got out of the truck, and began swinging at Smock.

In other words, the unnamed drunk belligerents allegedly started it, and Smock finished it in this cowardly two-against-one attack. The drunk driver was tested during his brief 45 minute hospital visit and found to be over the limit for DUI.

Smock is what we’d call an “avid cyclist” who generally rides with road cleats, which makes throwing a punch really really hard even when you’re amped up on adrenaline. I suppose there’s a reasonable chance the driver was found unconscious by Mill Valley at least in part because the driver was passed out from his drinking.

H/T to Chris and another Chris, who each have a single degree of separation from the alleged attacker.

50 Comments

  • Ol' Nat
    April 28, 2014 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    Nothing like fighting off multiple drunken attackers with road shoes on!!

  • April 28, 2014 - 10:54 am | Permalink

    I sent the Chronicle reporter a message asking if he had reported the whole story, and a link to this page.
    And indeed, how can you beat up someone when you’re in road shoes? It’s like being a duck on ice.

  • enelsoniv
    April 28, 2014 - 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t assume anything about the road cleats anymore than I would assume that the newspaper report was accurate. I have some Lake road shoes that will take two OR three bolt cleats. I have Keo cleats in them and I wear them when I think I might be dismounting a fair amount because they have mountain bike lugs on the shoe edges so you can walk decently when necessary.

  • Geraard Spergen
    April 28, 2014 - 1:51 pm | Permalink

    So what is the deadly weapon… his fists?

  • Bike-Scoot
    April 28, 2014 - 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Hitting someone with a car then stopping to get out and attack them is road rage. Self defense is not road rage.

  • Anonymous
    April 28, 2014 - 2:41 pm | Permalink

    As Bob Lee Swagger might say, “I didn’t start it, but I mean to see it through.”

  • gttim
    April 28, 2014 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

    So he stood his ground…. in cycling shoes.

  • Babyfacemagee
    April 28, 2014 - 5:10 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice of we could get a checkable source for this story. No mention of a 2nd person in the truck or the DUI element in any of the major news sites coverage of this.

  • John Murphy
    April 28, 2014 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Reporting that the driver was drunk would interrupt the narrative – can’t have that.

  • Dingo
    April 28, 2014 - 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Who swung first, all that matters to me…

  • Kelly
    April 28, 2014 - 7:42 pm | Permalink

    When I was in my 20′s I was riding in a century fundraising ride from SF to Santa Rosa and through the wine country. While on a curvy road near Petaluma, I was alone from the pack, and a pick up truck passed me at a high rate of speed. I felt several sharp stings on my back and heard metal hitting the ground. I stopped and realized someone in the bed of the pickup had thrown a handful of 16 penny nails at me as they passed. I collected some of them and about 1/2 a mike away found a sheriff who was directing traffic and reported the incident. There was nothing he could do as I did not get a plate number. It was a very traumatizing incident of senseless violence I will never understand.

  • April 28, 2014 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I should make clear that this is mostly 2nd hand information.

    Perhaps similar, see this http://pic.twitter.com/O3bn074b8O

  • April 29, 2014 - 12:32 am | Permalink

    Since when is it legal to stomp on an unconscious man’s skull with your road cleats just because you thought he was drunk? What law allows you to beat drunks to death?

  • April 29, 2014 - 5:04 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the details. But, having been in Smock’s situation myself many times, I knew the essentials already. A trained cyclist’s endurance and indifference to pain make him seem superhuman to mere mortals who are foolish enough to threaten his life.

  • Andy Lyke
    April 29, 2014 - 5:17 am | Permalink

    @Kelly – In the early ’70s, I was riding with my wife an 2 children (they in seats on our bikes). Car passed us, hitting each of us with something unidentified. I called cops, who came to house for interview. When it became clear that by bikes I meant pedal powered and not Harley or Suzuki, the cop’s eyes glazed over. That was an early lesson in bias against bikes.

  • Timmy
    April 29, 2014 - 5:34 am | Permalink

    His deadly weapon was an empty bottle and he squirted sour apple gel in the guys face.

  • c2cin2006
    April 29, 2014 - 7:27 am | Permalink

    I ride a “road” bike (not mtn or hybrid style) for recreation and fitness. Long ago I fit SPD pedals to this bike so I could walk lots easier when off the bike. To assume that this cyclist automatically wearing difficult to walk in “road” shoes is not a valid position. Where does the truth lie with this story? Suspect we will never know.

  • April 29, 2014 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    I suspect we will know the truth when this goes to court C2cin2006…seriously someone got hospitalized by a CEO…you think this won’t end up in court?

    HaightAshbury – No one said ANYONE was stomping on ANYONE’S head, just that a drunk ended up unconcious after a fight he started by ASSAULTING SOMEONE WITH A DEADLY WEAPON (namely his CAR). After being hit by a car you have been assaulted by a deadly weapon. Call me immature or whatever but I would probably react the exact same way after being hit with the adrenaline rushing through me, as would your common person. I imagine the “deadly weapon” for the cyclist was his water bottle, that’s the only weaponlike thing I ever have on my bike…or an air pump?

    Richard, thanks for doing the difficult detective work the Chron is too lazy to do. I can’t wait to get all the details on this.

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  • April 30, 2014 - 12:51 am | Permalink

    The victim’s lawyer in San Rafael has obtained surveillance video from the Gira Polli, it clearly shows Jeff stomping the man’s lifeless body as an older woman stopped in the opposing lane is pleading with him to stop. Pretty damning evidence.

  • April 30, 2014 - 9:10 am | Permalink

    Got a link? You keep talking and providing no back up information. I’ve looked for said video and found nothing I also found no mention of it. I am left to believe you are clueless and making it up as you go along.

  • Dylan
    April 30, 2014 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    Good for him. I would do the same thing. A driver threatens my life with his car? He gets what’s coming to him.

  • JC
    April 30, 2014 - 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like the Karma police showed up in spandex and road shoes.

  • April 30, 2014 - 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Having been a witness to this what I’d call attempted murder, I can say with certainty that those defending smock’s actions are going to regret it once the facts come out. Nothing, I mean nothing, could justify what smock did to that man. It was not two against one. It was one helmeted athlete bashing the head of an unhelmeted – and unconscious – older, small man.

  • Hawc
    April 30, 2014 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Taking all of this into account, we can see that people are to the boiling point and something has to be done. Car hits bike, what should rider do? Car violates new three foot law, will police do anything?

    Mill Valley just repaved and restricted East Blithedale and did nothing to take the new 3 feet law into account. This means that careful drivers, giving bikes three feet have to cross the double yellow line (breaking the law) while the others endanger cyclists.

    I got hit on East Blithedale and had I the chance to assualt the driver I would have done so, but being left unconscious and carted off in an ambulance impeded my retaliation.

    The Cities or the legislature need to act.

  • Lisa
    April 30, 2014 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

    A friend saw this happen, and her version sounded very much like Anna’s version above. I wouldn’t put too much faith in a second hand account, especially when it indirectly came from the accused.

  • May 1, 2014 - 11:03 am | Permalink

    There’s no attribution here, so you can assume they entire article is bullshit.

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  • Spock
    May 2, 2014 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh, so ALL cyclists share the road and obey ALL road rules?? Just try driving through Sausalito in any given day…what about the man that was mowed down and killed by a Smock -like cyclist on Castro Street ? Years ago my Mother was merciless obliterated by careless Smock-like cyclist as she walked down the Tiburon Bike path… To those of you who choose to lead a reckless lifestyle and insist on choosing narrow dangerous streets such as E. Blithdale to “share the road with” rather than safer , wider streets such as Miller Ave. a couple of blocks away don’t start whining because you only have yourself to blame for your stupid choices. Riding your bike with cars around is your choice and obviously it is a hazardous sport with serious consequences. Duh! Car vs bike who wins? Arrogant stupid people breed arrogant stupid people. Case closed.

  • Dirk Himley
    May 4, 2014 - 8:40 pm | Permalink

    It figures that this is the real truth, as I have had these occurances happen to me almost monthly . This is an epidemic problem of the road rage hatred motorists have towards cyclists , , Cops rarely back the cyclist with nothing better to say than ‘we deserve this ‘ . Until they (cops) start reacting as though we are citizens riding bikes unprotected from these violent a holes , then they will continue doing these things . People walking on cross walks are treated like protected people , as we should be riding or driving our vehicles (bicycles) down the street . It is not up to the descretion of the drivers as to whether or not to punish us with bodily harm or otherwise , due to their opinion of whether or not we are in ‘their’ road toooo much or not . They (drivers) look at it as a competitive space instead of a shared space . No matter what our/my speed on my bike , that I’m traveling at, the drivers will go ‘faster ‘ at any price , no matter what . Safety for me or even them goes out the window . At all costs (road rage , at best ) or worst depending on how you look at it . I could do say 25 mph in a 25 zone (w/o traffic &&&& to the furthest rt hand edge of the road ) and they ‘ will do lots of crazy things in retaliation for any efforts they must take in order to ‘get ahead ‘ of said cyclist (me) . And w/o any rider on the road , they’d be just fine with doing 25 mph by themselves , but hell no , not some cyclist occupying their space on their road in their way! Even if the cyclists speed were 35mph in a 25, then they’d do 40 to 50 in order to pass (in a 25) and then they’d be ready to fight u or run you over at the next meeting at the next red light. Every day every hour this happens , w/ o provocation and w/o protection from anyone . It’s unbelievable . EVERY DAY. Ps I haven’t and won’t ever punch someone out over this , but have had to ride up sidewalks for protection .. * again , btw , zero protection from cops or citizens . Has anyone seen the show, “What would you do?” Uh -yes , think about (ponder ) for a bit , thx . YIKES !

  • Ask Me
    May 6, 2014 - 12:50 pm | Permalink

    You’re all full of shit…
    None of you were present, so stop defending the bike rider just because you’re all riders.
    You’re worse than the Chron… the DA would not be prosecuting if the truck driver was legally impaired in any way.
    What a bunch of pikers.

  • Anonymous
    May 6, 2014 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    http://www.marinscope.com/mill_valley_herald/news/article_3a5a3392-d0c7-11e3-99ad-001a4bcf887a.html

    “According to a witness, the cyclist first circled the pickup and then punched the pickup driver through the window of the truck. When the pickup driver got out of the vehicle, the suspect allegedly jumped on him, pinned him to the ground, and pummeled him.”

  • Lisa
    May 7, 2014 - 6:30 am | Permalink

    The Mill Valley Herald information is the same information that was given to me by a witness.

  • Ask Me
    May 7, 2014 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    Richard Masoner – you sir are a complete and total fucking idiot.
    The bike rider was 100% at fault…there were not two occupants, and the truck driver was not impaired in any way.
    Please stop quoting “second hand” information.
    Read some of the comments here from people who were actually there.

  • Matt
    May 8, 2014 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I got Jeff Smock’s version 2nd hand, but directly from a good friend of Smock’s who’d heard his version 1st hand- however that version is pretty much in conflict with what the (apparent?) witness above describes… hmmm, whom to believe?

    I find it unfortunate for Smock that there doesn’t appear to be anyone who was present that day supporting his version of events (at least not publicly/vocally), and if the comment speaking of the surveillance video is accurate, he’s gonna fry.

    Doesn’t take much in the way of a google search to see that Smock will be able to afford a very very good lawyer, so how this plays out will be interesting to watch.

    If there’s really a video, I’d look for a plea deal and an undisclosed personal injury settlement to follow. Stay tuned, it will be interesting.

  • May 9, 2014 - 10:24 pm | Permalink

    After carefully reviewing the surveillance video and the Witness sworn statements, the Marin DA has charged Smock with 7 Felonies. Do I need a link to post this or is this all just a rumor???

  • Matt
    May 10, 2014 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    “Do I need a link to post this or is this all just a rumor???”

    post a link

  • Matt
    May 10, 2014 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    A google search for “smock video” or “smock felony video” doesn’t bring any results that reference surveillance video.

    A google search for “smock drunk” brings ONLY this blog post indicating that the driver was impaired at the time of this incident.

    None of the reports I have read reference “7 felonies”, and being charged with a crime does not make one a criminal- let us not forget that please.

    It’s impossible to know if people posting online as “witnesses” are in fact witnesses, or if they saw the entire event unfold for that matter- so yes, it’s all rumors at this point, to answer your question above.

  • May 11, 2014 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    Felony assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, Felony aggravated with deadly weapon, Fleeing the scene of a Felony assault, Felony evidence tampering, Felony witness intimidation, Felony failure to provide aid to dying victim and failure to alert EMS, Felony evasion of material fact in attempting to deceive first responders in reporting that the victim fell and hit his head during a seizure (lying to the cops) and denied any involvement in the incident when detained. I got all of this info from the victim’s attorney in San Rafael. If you need a link or more info, contact her.

  • May 14, 2014 - 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Wins my vote for the mist ridiculous piece of crappy journalism ever. All smear and innuendo. Firing this guy too good for him.

  • Anonymous
    May 15, 2014 - 12:03 am | Permalink

    Bs

  • Doug
    May 16, 2014 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Seeing what’s come out in comments here, you should retitle this: “Bike vs Car: a made up totally BS fairy-tale version of things I’d like to be true”

  • Alex
    May 21, 2014 - 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Journalism is dead. Without credible sources, an article is alphabet soup.

  • Ask Me
    June 3, 2014 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    The author here has committed slander, and will be hearing from victims lawyer shortly.

  • GreatCorntrollio
    June 4, 2014 - 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Commenters here have rightly pointed-out that this author Richard Masoner completely fabricated this “account.” I think Masoner made it up. By now you all know that Smock has retained Gerald schwartzbach , a famed trial attorney, to represent him. Schwartzbach isn’t a lawyer to cut a deal, he’s a trial Svengali who gained acquittal for Robert Blake in the murder of his wife. Schwartzbach also got an acquittal for Stephen Bingham , probably the most infamous trial in the history of Marin county, humiliating then DA Terry Boren who is now a judge. schwartzbach must give the entire courthouse a collective pucker when he walks in the door. Masoner, you might be guilty of libel, you’re phony account seems deliberately malicious. We’ll have to see how the victim responds to you. Locals know Blithedale is not for bicycles. No parents allow their children to ride to school on Blithedale , we all used sycamore for middle school and miller for tam. My witness told me Smock beat the guy through the window, the pulled him from the car and continued, nearly killing the man, then fled and lied to the cops. If this goes to trial expect a good show because schwartzbach is one of the best trial lawyers in the world. The judge , Kelly Simmons is one tough cookie, not usually friendly to defendants. They were in court this morning for a plea, as a deal is unlikely , expect a trial.

  • Matt
    June 5, 2014 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    So much rhetoric from BOTH sides-
    Guess what? THIS is not where the trial happens folks, so just NOT KNOWING is actually OK…

    News reports up to now have been super sparse of any real facts.
    The SF Gate has at least a few nuggets or actual information on the case:

    http://www.sfgate.com/search/?action=search&channel=home&search=1&firstRequest=1&query=smock

    If in fact a cop testifies that the guy said he’d had 4 beers, that could be somewhat significant, even if people believe the guy went to far in his (perhaps) self defense, this is still obviously important component to the story.

    Maybe it’s all just so much show- maybe it’s all smoke and mirrors by a top atty, but come on people who saw some of it or people who “heard” this or that, have some patience and take a seat in the peanut gallery with the rest of us already, nothing new happens all Summer now anyway (BUMMER).

    BTW to the last poster- to suggest there aren’t tons of bikes on that road, or shouldn’t be bikes on any road in MV is absurd, on a nice day the bike density in MV in enormous, and almost every biker is a great person who’d give you their bike jersey off their back if you needed it more than they did, so let’s all keep some perspective, even if this one apple in fact turns out to be rotten (which we as of now really cannot say unless we were actually there for both the start and the finish of the altercation.

    [/rant]

  • billdsd
    July 30, 2014 - 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m having trouble finding up to date information on this. Has the trial happened yet?

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