No Justice, Only Victim Blaming After Driver Injures Woman on Littleton Bike Path
Katrina Bellis was biking through an intersection on a bike trail in Littleton last October when Shannon Miller rammed her Mercury Montego into her. Miller, who was turning left, narrowly missed hitting Bellis’s fiancé and two-year-old son.
Bellis’s spine is crooked now, her life forever changed because of Miller’s careless driving. A dashboard camera captured the crash clearly (fast forward to the three-minute mark).
Bellis and her attorney, Megan Hottman, didn’t want to get Miller locked up — they just wanted some measure of accountability by imposing points against her license and requiring community service. Littleton City Attorney Tricia McCarthy had other ideas.
According to a court transcript [PDF], she insisted that community service was “harsh,” and gave Miller a plea bargain that literally blamed the car — charges for failing to yield were dropped in exchange for something called an “unsafe vehicle” fine, carrying a $391 penalty. The prosecutor ordered Miller to take a driving course as well.
“I’m not seeking jail time but taking a four point violation down to a one or two is very disheartening, especially when, when I was taught to drive that you hit somebody, you lose your license pretty much,” Bellis told the court.
McCarthy instead blamed the victim for the crash, claiming that Bellis shouldn’t have been in the intersection on a bike — that she should’ve dismounted. That’s not true, because the intersection is part of a bike trail, as Hottman lays out thoroughly in her legal blog. What’s more, dismounting a bike offers no protection from a turning motorist who fails to yield.
Here’s more from McCarthy, who falls over herself to absolve the driver while laying the fault at the feet of Bellis and her family:
It is my position that Ms. Miller did not see the bicyclist coming, did not see them probably until the last minute and that’s due to the nature of the road and the curvature of the road and the fact that these pedestrians, bicyclists or bicyclists operating as a pedestrian were coming from behind her and then were travelling [sic] at a speed that is much greater than an average pedestrian.
“My client stood in that courtroom, mouth agape,” writes Hottman, “having been hit by a car while riding legally — she was now being accused of bringing the collision on herself by riding in a crosswalk in broad daylight with her family. She was on the defensive, having to explain her behavior that day.”
McCarthy told the court, “I don’t work for the victim in the case and my job is to seek justice.”
If that’s the case, she didn’t do her job.