Provocation does not justify beating of SUV driver

by on October 3, 2013
in Commentary

It’s the biker video that has stunned America: a group of riders in New York surround a family in their SUV, begin beating on the vehicle, and apparently pull the driver from the car and beat him in front of his wife and small child to the point where he requires hospitalization.

The story, as it has emerged over the course of the last couple of days, is that apparently there was an incident that provoked the riders to take this action. If you watch the whole 6-1/2 minute video, it clearly shows the bikes coming up on and surrounding the SUV, and one of the riders pulling in front of it and then slowing drastically. The rider shooting the video looks away just at the moment when the SUV most assuredly must have hit the slower rider.


Here is the link to the full helmet-cam video on YouTube, for which the “embed” feature has been turned off.

The video then clearly shows the SUV actually running over one or more of the riders, after they came to  a stop around him following the collision. Then the SUV speeds away, pursued by the group of riders. It’s at the end of that pursuit that they begin attacking the vehicle. The camera shuts off apparently moments before they pulled the driver from the car and beat him.

I suppose that eventually we will learn the full story – what really set the whole sorry chain of events in motion. Regardless, the tragedy of this situation is two-fold: first we have a father beaten and brutalized in front of his family, and his family traumatized watching all of this take place. Then we have one of the bikers, also apparently a father, possibly paralyzed from being run down by the SUV.

I’ve said it before: I just don’t get the rage. If you engage in dangerous behavior on the bike, you are going to hurt someone or get hurt yourself. Does injury to you, or to one of your friends, justify this kind of vigilanteism?

In my opinion, no. Regardless of the injury to their friend, the riders had a responsibility to avoid further confrontation. And they certainly have no claim of self-defense, having pursued the driver for several miles.

Just stupidity, all the way around.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.



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9 Responses to “Provocation does not justify beating of SUV driver”
  1. KathyW says:

    First of all, the willful actions of these bikers reflect poorly on all bikers. I read a couple articles (granted in the NY Post, but still somewhat legitimate news) that said the bikers were trying to shut down the freeway so they could make it their own to ride doing their wheelies and whatever other stupid stuff they do. (This is not an isolated incident, apparently. These type punk bikers have a reputation for stopping traffic so they can do their stunts.) So it appears they may have been antagonizing the driver of the SUV probably for some time before the video started. As you said, if you engage in risky, outrageous behavior on a bike, you have to remember that the enraged or frightened driver of an SUV might just retaliate with his 5000 pound weapon.

    I’m not condoning the actions of the SUV driver, and it’s a shame that someone with a rap sheet who doesn’t have a valid driver’s license, much less a motorcycle endorsement, was severely injured, but I would probably have done the same thing if I felt threatened like that.

    My two cents.

  2. Tracy says:

    I agree with you whole-heartedly!

  3. Pam says:

    What a horrible scene all the way around. Can’t imagine the SUV driver’s wife and child felt.

  4. Sash says:

    Whoa! Let’s hold our horses here!

    Kathy W wrote: I read a couple articles (granted in the NY Post, but still somewhat legitimate news) that said the bikers were trying to shut down the freeway so they could make it their own to ride doing their wheelies and whatever other stupid stuff they do.

    This information was the OPINION OF THE POLICE and NOT a statement from any of the riders. So this is supposition and therefore, not applicable. The police are going to say whatever they need to say to support the decision to NOT arrest the SUV driver.

    I wasn’t there. I don’t know. I know I’ve done a great deal of research on this and had plenty of information sent to me, true and false, all of which I’ve taken time to research. Here’s my most recent article on the topic, but I have more coming soon:

    My opinion is that some of the riders were riding dangerously. But just because one rides with a group of dumb riders, and a few break the law, does that mean that one has earned the opportunity to be run over by an SUV?

    What galls me is that so many people have lumped the entire group together, as if the actions of a few convict everyone who was riding of a crime, thus making EVERY RIDER in the GROUP a criminal.

    Is that what you want society to do to you?

    You ride a motorcycle, so you must be a criminal like those “punks” in NYC.

    Is that what we want?

    I would ask that we all stop making suppositions about what happened and stop lumping all of the riders into one class. Because THAT is the type of thinking, the stereotyping, that is going to put ALL riders in danger in the future. We are ALL getting lumped in with the dangerous sport/stunt riders, just the way Harley riders were once lumped in with MC’s. Not what we want, right?


  5. Anthony says:

    If it were me, I would have run over every single bike pursuing me as well….stupid bikers don’t understand simple logic.

  6. Corn Dog says:

    Sash, I appreciate your perspective and the information-sharing you’ve done on this (folks,, linked above in my article, is one of Sash’s many outstanding motorcycle-oriented websites)… but I have to say, no one here is condemning “all bikers” for the actions of this small group. But make no mistake, I DO blame these riders for the situation that occurred, and I can justify that just by looking at the video. THEY are the ones who chose to surround the SUV instead of safely passing. THEY are the ones who created a mob around him, THEIR group member slowed in front of him causing the collision. THESE decisions created the situation in which the SUV decided to run them over. My whole post is about consequences for stupidity, on all sides: the SUV driver hit a biker, and paid a price. The injured rider was riding stupidly, dangerously, and selfishly, and paid a price. Perhaps the prices exacted for these actions are not just or equal – but there they are, at least so far. Stupid decisions made, consequences paid. BIKERS will not condemn “all bikers” for the actions of a few – for the very reasons you mention – because they’ve been lumped in before and didn’t like it. If “Society at Large” ends up lumping me in with these dangerous people, then so be it: I will still live my life being the exception to the stereotype as a safe and defensive rider, and that’s okay with me. And I will know that I spoke up and condemned stupidity where I saw it.

  7. Corn Dog says:

    Here is another perspective on the video, from former Hells Angel leader George Christie:

  8. Corn Dog says:

    And here is another, with more from the perspective of the injured rider’s defense attorney, Gloria Allred:

  9. bob b says:

    This incident is a classic example of “mob mentality”. The mob thinks there’s safety in numbers, and the chances of anything bad happening to one of them is minimal. The mob is gonna protect them. Well, the mob got exactly what it deserved. Their numbers were no match for an SUV weighing several times what any one of them did. Hopefully, this will serve as a warning to other like minded mobs of riders. This gives all of us a black eye. Bob B

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