Anyone hear about this?
An altercation between a plainclothes San Francisco police officer and a bike messenger near City Hall on Wednesday drew allegations that the officer had attacked the cyclist in a case of road rage.
Cyclist Cephas Gardner, 33, said it was around 1 p.m. when he was pedaling southbound on Polk Street. As he crossed McAllister Street, he said, a silver Honda Civic turned the corner and cut him off.
Gardner, irritated, said he had used the flat of his hand to tap the car's trunk. Then, according to Gardner and a witness, the driver began swerving toward Gardner in the bike lane.
Gardner tried to get away from the vehicle, he said, but was pursued for another block and over several lanes of traffic. He said the driver had cursed him and yelled at him to stop.
As they passed Grove Street, the driver allegedly pulled to the right curb, jumped out and ran toward Gardner to pull him off his bike.
That's when Gardner said he had seen a police badge on a chain around the man's neck.
"That was the first I knew he was a cop," he said. Gardner said the driver challenged him to fight.
Witness Christina West, 36, was driving behind the two of them and started dialing 911 on her cell phone, she said. "I thought he was going to kill him (Gardner)," she said.
She said the driver had started punching Gardner, although Gardner said he wasn't sure what happened. West said she had stopped her car and called for police. That's when, she said, the driver said he was a police officer.
He turned out to be Officer Randy Ly, who declined to discuss the incident at the scene.
Ly, 35, joined the department in 1998 and currently works out of Northern Station. Capt. Kevin Dillon, his supervisor, said the incident was under investigation. West plans to file a complaint with the Police Commission's Office of Citizen Complaints.
Gardner said he wasn't sure whether he'd take formal action against Ly. He said his neck was scratched and bruised because Ly grabbed his bike helmet.
It wouldn't be the only complaint against Ly. A lawsuit was filed related to Ly's arrest of businessman Ray Pellegrini, a former Olympic Club and city golf champion, near Lake Merced, on Oct. 18, 2000.
Pellegrini, who recounted the arrest in an interview with The Chronicle for a story about a year ago, stated that he had pulled into a parking lot because, as a diabetic, he was feeling the effects of low blood sugar. He said Ly and another officer, Javier Munoz, had approached him and wrestled him into handcuffs when they said he refused to show them his driver's license. Ly's police report on the incident states that Pellegrini was cited for refusing to display his license. The charges against him were later dismissed.
In a lawsuit he filed, Pellegrini alleged that Ly and Munoz "grabbed him, kicked him, beat him and pushed him into his car, causing a large dent. They threw him to the ground and further assaulted him.''
In February 2003, the city paid $13,000 to settle the lawsuit.