Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shooting a Bicyclist in the Head--Not a Serious Crime, It Turns Out

Regular readers (all three of you) will recall this post, in which an armed lunatic, Charles Alexander Diez, attempted to shoot cyclist Alan Ray Simons in the head. He missed, but the bullet went through Simons' helmet. Don't forget, Simons' baby was on the back of the bike when this occurred, and he was riding with his wife, who was on another bike. Clearly, attempted murder--even against a member of a hated minority (bicyclists)--deserves a serious penalty. Right?

Nope.
Charles Alexander Diez, the former North Carolina firefighter who shot cyclist Alan Simons in the head, has been sentenced to four months in jail.

In an Asheville courtroom last week, Diez pled guilty to shooting Simons during a July 26 roadside confrontation. Said to be upset that Simons was riding his bike with his 3-year-old child, Diez fired his .38 caliber pistol as Simons walked away after the two exchanged words. The bullet struck Simons' bike helmet, narrowly missing his skull.  In August, a grand jury reduced charges against Diez from attempted first degree murder to felony assault. (Brad Aron, Streetsblog.org, November 23, 2009)
It appears that North Carolinans just hate cyclists. Yeehaw, fellers! Let's go shoot us sum of them bicycle faggots!
The latest example? Charles Alexander Diez, the 42-year-old former Asheville firefighter who shot at a bicyclist on Tunnel Road after arguing with him about the safety of cycling on a busy street, got four months in prison for the crime.
That’s 120 days for nearly taking someone's life.
I'm not the only person around town mystified by the light sentence.
“So, you can go shoot at someone riding a bike and get four months in jail? Is that the example they're giving to the community?,” said Nancy Jones, a resident of the Beaverdam area and an avid cyclist. “I feel like we should wear flak jackets now. It gives them the OK. When you're talking about a guy (attempting to) shoot somebody in the head, that's over the top. And to see him getting four months, it's outrageous.”
[...]

In his defense, Diez said in court he simply fired “a warning shot,” that he was the one who “felt truly, truly threatened.”
Now, I know biking shorts can be scary, but really, who's in charge here — the guy with the gun or the unarmed guy riding a bike with his family? Simons said Diez was pointing the gun at his chest when he approached Diez's vehicle.
If you haven't noticed, there's a lot of anger directed at local cyclists.
Nancy Jones says she's had beer bottles thrown at her and had drivers brandish firearms or “buzz her” — intentionally veering at her. She said some sort of animosity is almost standard when she and her husband, Brian, go riding. To say Asheville is not a cyclist-friendly town is putting it mildly.
The Joneses just don't buy Diez's version of events, and they're outraged by the sentence. So are other cyclists they know.
“I was always taught that if you aim a gun at somebody, you're trying to kill them,” Nancy Jones said. “If it's a warning shot, you fire it up in the air.”
“If a cyclist shot a fireman, judge or prosecuting attorney in his head, in front of his family, what sentence do you think he/she would receive,” Brian Jones asked. (John Boyle, Asheville Citizen-Times, November 23, 2009)

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