The lawyer of a cyclist caught on film attacking a car with a U-lock during a Critical Mass event last month believes that he can defend his client from the charges. At his initial appearance in San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday, the man involved, Ian Hespelt, did not enter a plea.
The incident took place during the monthly San Francisco Critical Mass protest ride. A stand-off between protestors and a driver saw a group of cyclists surround a car and when the driver tried to manoeuvre around them, one hit the car with his bike, while Hespelt repeatedly swung at it with a U-lock. The vehicle is said to have sustained about $3,000 dollars’ worth of damage.
NBC reports that Hespelt has been charged with four felony charges – assault, false imprisonment, vandalism and throwing dangerous objects at a vehicle.
District Attorney George Gascon said he hoped the case would serve as an example to others.
"I think it's really important for everyone to recognise we are operating under very congested road conditions. We have to respect each other's rights and this individual, clearly, not only was he not respecting the victim's right, but he wasn't respecting anyone's rights in this case and we want to send a very clear message that there will be consequences for that behaviour here."
Hespelt's lawyer, Justin Goodwin, described his client as being "deeply saddened and shocked that what began as a traditional bicycle ride has resulted in this case and these charges."
Goodwin added that he believes the charges are defensible “and we look forward to presenting that defence in court."
Hespelt’s mother, Randi, told SFGate that she believes there is more to the story than has been reported. However, she refused to elaborate further. “The whole thing is from one perspective saying he’s to blame. This would have never happened if the driver didn’t do what she did.”