Brazilian Critical Mass driver Ricardo Neis charged with attempted murder + Neis video

Driver who ran down 20 cyclists offers "I was being attacked, they broke the mirror" as defence

by Tony Farrelly   March 2, 2011  

Ricardo Neis faces the press

Ricardo Neis, the 47 year-old driver of a car that drove through a group of cyclists on a Critical Mass ride in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre last Friday has been charged with attempted murder, tomorrow the central banker will also find out whether he will be remanded in prison until he faces trial. In the meantime, according to his defence team Neis has been admitted to a psychiatric clinic "He's very shaken by the whole situation, stressed and not able to work" one of his defence lawyers told Ultimo Segundo.

Porto Alegre's police chief, Gilberto Montenegro said that Neis had "used the car as a weapon" he also appeared to pour scorn on Neis's story that he felt scared by some cyclists banging on the roof of his car. The police now have 30 days in which to complete their enquiries and the prosecution in the case will be in court tomorrow to apply for Neis to be remanded in custody. Commenting on the charges and the move to put Neis behind bars now the state prosecutor in the case Eugenio Armorim said "It's time to change the culture of impunity, especially in matters of transit. The prosecution has adopted an attitude that was expected by society".

Meanwhile It has also emerged that Neis has a string of previous convictions for both traffic and offences of violence including attacking his ex-partner, driving on the sidewalk, driving the wrong way down a street and speeding, a gun owned by Neis also went missing from his house and was found in somebody else's possession. In one piece of good news for Mr Neis, if our shaky grasp of Portuguese is correct, his employers the Brazilian central bank confirmed to local media that Neis would not be facing any disciplinary action from them

The incident, in which Neis ploughed his black VW Golf  through 130 cyclists on a Critical Mass ride hitting 20 of them and injuring 8 was caught on film from by both participants in the ride and onlookers - none of those videos shows any evidence of aggression on the part of those taking part, in fact Neis's black VW Golf appears to come almost from nowhere as it speeds through the group of cyclists containing women, children and senior citizens. (You can view one of the videos at the bottom of this story).

 

Yesterday speaking to reporters after three hours spent giving evidence at Porto Alegre's police headquarters Neis said that he was "terribly upset" about what had happened but that the cyclists had left him with no alternative "I was being attacked, they broke the mirror". The police confirmed that the only damage to his car mentioned by Neis was to the wing mirrors – something which would appear to contradict an earlier statement from his lawyers that the car windows had been smashed by the cyclists prior to Neis driving through them. In his comments to the media Neis also seemed to depart from the defence line that he had acted as he did out of fears for the safety of his 15 year old son, Neis seeming to put more emphasis on his own safety and on fears of damage to his car.

According to the Brazilian newspaper O Jornal Neis told reporters on exiting the police station on Monday that he had been travelling with his son when he was attacked by the cyclists taking part in the Critical Mass ride:

"I am terribly upset with everything that happened. I very much regret what happened to them (cyclists) all, but I had no other alternative. I was being attacked, they broke the mirror," he said.

(At this point the O Jornal report becomes slightly more difficult for the powers of Google Translate to cope with (so if any Portuguese speakers would like to clarify we would be grateful).

According to Neis some members of the Critical Mass ride, who he said were acting as a "sort of militia" blocked his car and banged on the roof. As we reported yesterday one rider at the back of the ride Camilo Colling said that he spoke to Neis seconds before the incident.

Camilo Colling, told the Brazilian website Terra Brasil that he spoke to the driver just before the incident, asking him to be patient and stop behaving aggressively towards the riders in his path and warning him that there were children and older people taking part in the ride ahead. The driver allegedly replied "Yes but I'm in a hurry" before ploughing his car in to the group of cyclists in front of him.

Neis said that he fled the scene because he feared he would be lynched had he stayed, he also said that he had not abandoned his car, the police found it later on Friday night, but had left the documents in the vehicle. The police did not identify Neis as the driver of the car until Sunday which is either a commentary on his version of events or on the powers of detection possessed by the local police.

20 user comments

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Of course breaking a mirror means you can run people down.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
1st March 2011 - 19:15

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Clutching at straws me thinks..

posted by GrahamH [18 posts]
1st March 2011 - 19:31

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Can't help feeling that maybe his lawyer shouldn't have let him speak to the press. Of course we are basing our report on the reports in the Brazilian media and we have got to assume they are giving the guy a fair crack, but interestingly in this latest report he doesn't really play the protecting his son angle which came from his lawyer yesterday, or if he did it is not reported, but I can't see any reason that they wouldn't report on that. In the flesh, Neis sounds like he was more concerned for his own safety and the safety of his car.

He and his lawyer are asking for a very like a big leap of imagination for anyone to accept that a 47 year old man in a car felt so threatened by a group of cyclists containing women, children, and old people that he panicked and committed an act that could quite easily have ended in mass murder as against the other scenario where an angry man snapped did something recklessly stupid and then found himself trapped by his fear and the the reckless stupidity of hitting that first rider to carrying on rather than stopping after he hit the first cyclist. That to me sounds like a much more likely scenario - I'm sure he panicked but only after he'd started to run people down and then not out of fear for his life, but for fear of facing the consequences of his actions.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4131 posts]
1st March 2011 - 20:06

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Friends of mine in Porto Alegre are adamant they did nothing except tell him to calm down before he plowed through everybody. All he had to do was take the next parallel street like he would if there were just car traffic in front of him. Then again, he has a long list of convictions for traffic offenses like driving on the sidewalk and driving in the opposite direction of traffic. This time he took a more direct route.

posted by tino [1 posts]
1st March 2011 - 20:35

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Turns out the guy has priors:

http://www.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,acusado-de-atropelar-ciclistas-...

I ran that page through Google Translate and while the translator is pretty choppy, it seems to say the guy has priors for threats of violence, speeding tickets, and other moving violations (can't tell but it looks like something about driving the wrong direction and/or driving down the sidewalk?)

While Critical Mass events in some areas (NYC, for example) are often meant to annoy/infuriate drivers, this Brazilian event appeared to be quite peaceful. No one is corroberating the driver's claims that he was being threatened and/or attacked out of the blue. Add in his legal history, and it seems pretty obvious that he has road rage issues.

I think he should be facing multiple counts of attempted homicide/murder/manslaughter (whatever they call it there) as well as corruption/neglect of a minor, since his son was taken along for the ride.

BUT, he's a banker, and apparently he and his lawyer are both pretty well-connected. So it's quite possible that he did nothing wrong and in fact everyone else owes him money for his troubles. Angry

posted by TheBigMong [218 posts]
1st March 2011 - 21:24

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That's a chilling video....

posted by creepymonkey [31 posts]
1st March 2011 - 23:36

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@tino got to admit that even from thousands of miles away in the UK I was wondering why he simply didn't just detour around the ride. I've had a look around and I can find no reports of any threatening behaviour or aggression from the critical mass riders - you only have to look at the videos to see that the ride is an easy going affair.

He may be well connected but this time he's out in the spot light and his lawyer might be well connected but if I was him I certainly wouldn't have let my client go out and speak to the press on his own… think I might have gussied him up a bit too so that he didn't look quite like Hannibal Lecter's sinister brother too.

You'd also have to say that two days on the run with access to a lawyer and that's the best they story they could come up with - it's feeble, and not only that he can't even stick to his own story. I think he's toast.

@TheBigMong - thanks for that link.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4131 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 0:33

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sounds like a proper sociopath. I feel for his son having a father of that mental state Sad

posted by Decster [246 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 7:39

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"He's very shaken by the whole situation, stressed and not able to work"

My heart bleeds for him. I hope his poor, defenceless car wasn't too badly damaged... Angry

posted by crunch61 [31 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 11:54

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He's displaying all the characteristics of a spree killer in that inteview. Boring man, making excuses, playing the victim.

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [190 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 12:28

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Terrible to see that video clip. Bone chilling!

posted by Celeste08 [38 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 12:41

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Don't expect justice in Brazil!

If you feel like driving through a massive crowd, either cycling or on foot, Brazil is the place.

Wait and see! And be careful.

posted by R [1 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 16:02

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The guy is a fruitcake.

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

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posted by Fish_n_Chips [325 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 17:09

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tony_farrelly wrote:
think I might have gussied him up a bit too so that he didn't look quite like Hannibal Lecter's sinister brother too.

Nice. I was thinking Rudy Giuliani crossed with Christopher Lloyd in Roger Rabbit.

Reading just some of the comments posted by readers on other news sites that have covered this story, and one or two cheap shots taken at critical mass even here, one has to wonder what sort of atrocity would have to be committed against a cyclist, or group of cyclists, to garner unanimous, unqualified sympathy? The unearthing of the skeleton of a cyclist, buried along with their bike by a Fred West-style serial killer in his back garden? No, probably some motorists would regard this as justice for the time they were held up for almost an entire minute behind a cyclist on a narrow, bendy stretch of road. The incineration of an entire family who were out cycling and were caught up in the test detonation of some terrorist nuclear bomb? Good, some will say, serves them right, because the road they were riding on, and the melted asphalt of which is now chemically bonded with their ashes, was payed for by motorists' road tax. Every participant in the annual London to Brighton ride being killed by a freak June hurricane? Inevitably some people would use such an incident to call for number plates on bicycles, because the worst crime in the world is the running of red lights by a few idiotic London cyclists, who would being just as thoughtless and stupid if they were using any other form of transport. But because they make motorists stuck in traffic jams feel impotent they deserve to die, and so do all cyclists, and all their relatives (and anyone with a windmill on their house, because they are arrogant eco-nazis too.)

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
2nd March 2011 - 22:06

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handlebarcam wrote:
Reading just some of the comments posted by readers on other news sites that have covered this story, and one or two cheap shots taken at critical mass even here, one has to wonder what sort of atrocity would have to be committed against a cyclist, or group of cyclists, to garner unanimous, unqualified sympathy?

You are so right! The comments on the YouTube video from some people are bone chilling.

I think it's a sign that human life is so cheap these days. For these thugs, we are not humans. If that car had sped through a demo where everybody was on foot, there would be an uproar!

Angry

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

LondonCalling's picture

posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 12:22

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He probably snapped it off whist mowing down cyclists!

Mariachi's picture

posted by Mariachi [25 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 13:53

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ppf. I am glad they are going to prosecute him! He has no excuse. As i wrote on a previous posting, He could have taken a side turning and used a different route,not brain surgery! I wish all the injured cyclist's a speedy recovery. p.s. I fully agree with Mariachi's comment!

peasantpigfarmer

posted by peasantpigfarmer [46 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 16:35

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This was reported in The Sun, somewhat scarily the driver appears to have quite a lot of support for what he did (going from the comments posted on The Sun's website). Scary!

posted by radar [55 posts]
6th March 2011 - 15:13

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Would the British judiciary please take note trying to run people down with a car is attempted murder and not a joke. It would also be useful if we could have a law of Strict Liability to make it absolutely clear that such behaviour is not acceptable...

posted by Kim [126 posts]
21st March 2011 - 18:37

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This Brazilian guy sounds completely bonkers. I wouldn't trust him with a roller skate, let alone a car. Some people make mistakes while driving and it is arguable that they can learn from their errors and that the punishments should reflect this. However in this chap's case his past record shows he has an anger management problem and it suggests he cannot be trusted with a motor vehicle ever again. I also think he needs to be kept away from his offspring as his behaviour is so dangerous. I'm not sure whether the attempted murder charge can be made to stick but if you ask me he belongs in a psychiatric institution.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2114 posts]
11th October 2011 - 14:52

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