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Deputy James Council pleads guilty to 2 counts of vehicular manslaughter

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Deputy James Council pleads guilty to 2 counts of vehicular manslaughter

Old 05-08-09, 12:47 PM
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johnny99
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Deputy James Council pleads guilty to 2 counts of vehicular manslaughter

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_12326768

Santa Clara County deputy sheriff pleads guilty in bicyclists' deaths

By Mark Gomez
Mercury News
Posted: 05/08/2009 11:22:18 AM PDT

The Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy who struck and killed two bicyclists last year while on patrol has pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter as part of a deal, according to a district attorney's spokeswoman.

James Council, who originally pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to go on trial Monday, reached a deal this morning, according to Amy Cornell, a spokeswoman with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Terms of the deal were not immediately available.

On the morning of March 9, 2008, Council crossed a double-yellow line on Stevens Canyon Road in Cupertino. His patrol car plowed into a group of elite cyclists on a training ride on the hilly road popular with riders.

The crash killed Matt Peterson, 29, and Kristianna Gough, 30. Christopher Knapp, 20, suffered two broken limbs, but survived.

Council told other cyclists at the scene that he had fallen asleep at the wheel. A spokesman with the California Highway Patrol previously declined to say if CHP investigators found evidence of that.
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Old 05-08-09, 01:04 PM
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I'll be interested to hear what the 'deal' was... Hopefully there will be something more than a slap/probation etc.
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Old 05-08-09, 01:07 PM
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I hope that the families of the victims agreed to the plea deal.
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Old 05-08-09, 01:16 PM
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Good for him. Pleading guilty is better than trying to fight it.
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Old 05-08-09, 01:30 PM
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Any legal experts care to chime in on this? If he gets off with no jail time, I'll be sick......
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Old 05-08-09, 02:05 PM
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More info on sfgate:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...H9C4.DTL&tsp=1
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Old 05-08-09, 02:10 PM
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So, four months of home detention for killing two cyclists..............

"Council is expected to be sentenced June 25 to four months in county jail in the deaths of Matt Peterson, 29, of San Francisco and Kristy Gough, 30, of San Leandro.

Council will be eligible to serve that time in a sheriff's furlough program or in home detention, authorities said."
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Old 05-08-09, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by powpow View Post
So, four months of home detention for killing two cyclists..............

"Council is expected to be sentenced June 25 to four months in county jail in the deaths of Matt Peterson, 29, of San Francisco and Kristy Gough, 30, of San Leandro.

Council will be eligible to serve that time in a sheriff's furlough program or in home detention, authorities said."
that right there makes me sick! of course he plead guilty. sooooo frustrating! 2 lives taken and that's all he gets.

edit: just to add. I know guys that spent 30 days in county for a DUI. no accident, just straight got pulled over DUI. now this guy kills 2, and who knows under what condition since he was whisked away by his sheriff friends. absolutly ridicules. Times like this, I hope someone sues the pants off the County in civil court. Sorry to sound angry but I am.

Last edited by jinws; 05-08-09 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 05-08-09, 02:31 PM
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I think the most important here is the guilty plea. That's a public recognition of wrong doing and it should bring some policy changes that help prevent this kind of accident.

I don't know what caused the officer to fall asleep (overworked, drug or alcohol) but if it's was due to too many hours on the job then the police department shares some responsibility and should have a serious review of its policies regarding the matter.

Unfortunately the dead won't come back so let's hope something good come out of it. I would rather see the man get a light 4 month in-house sentence and see something credible made to prevent such accidents than a long sentence and a police department and administrators washing their hands clean out of it without initiating policy changes.

Last edited by gpelpel; 05-08-09 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 05-08-09, 02:58 PM
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As usual, there are a bunch of crazy comments posted for the SFGate story...

I just wish people who write this stuff would come out and say it in public where they will have to stand behind their words.
Don't they have friends, or children that ride bikes?
So often it seems like they think anyone that makes them take their foot off the gas for a moment deserves to be run over.

/rant
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Old 05-08-09, 03:23 PM
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Not surprised to see in the article that the driver was on his 2nd 12-hour shift in 2 days. There's a reason truck drivers are limited to 8 hours on the road each day.
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Old 05-08-09, 04:06 PM
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This brings back vivid memories of the loud wails of pain and loss by a family member or friend at the accident site when I went on the memorial ride last year. I'm going to have to take a mental break.
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Old 05-11-09, 09:29 PM
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I'm surprised there isn't more of an outrage over this. I guess cyclists aren't the sort of anarchists that everyone makes us out to be.
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Old 05-11-09, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by sweetnsourbkr View Post
I'm surprised there isn't more of an outrage over this. I guess cyclists aren't the sort of anarchists that everyone makes us out to be.
i dont think you find many cervelos at critical mass
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Old 05-11-09, 10:23 PM
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Speaking for myself and not any organization I'm affiliated with....thats pure BS. Sadly, why am I not surprised?
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Old 05-11-09, 11:34 PM
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Dang he made out like a bandit. A years paid vacation and I bet he didn't have to pay for his lawyer either.
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Old 05-12-09, 10:05 PM
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That's what the BART cop shoulda done. Hindsight, I guess.

I heard somewhere that Council also knows or is related to a high ranking officer in the Sheriff's dept.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by sweetnsourbkr View Post
That's what the BART cop shoulda done. Hindsight, I guess.

I heard somewhere that Council also knows or is related to a high ranking officer in the Sheriff's dept.
"Council, who could not be reached for comment, has been collecting his $82,168 annual salary while on paid administrative leave since the March 9, 2008, crash"
Overpaid, under trained..


" Council also has a 2001 conviction for his involvement in a speed contest in Los Angeles County. Council, 20 years old at the time, also was charged with two drunken-driving counts: driving while intoxicated and having a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent, court records show.In a plea deal, records show, Council was convicted only of street racing. He received 24 months of court probation — a punishment that had ended before he was hired by the sheriff's department.
Sheriff's officials knew about Council's conviction and the plea deal when they hired him."

His father is a Sgt. in the SCCSO. If it weren't for nepotism, we'd probably have no police at all.

Last edited by Ty.S; 05-13-09 at 09:45 AM. Reason: News paper quotes
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Old 05-13-09, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Ty.S View Post
" Council also has a 2001 conviction for his involvement in a speed contest in Los Angeles County. Council, 20 years old at the time, also was charged with two drunken-driving counts: driving while intoxicated and having a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent, court records show.In a plea deal, records show, Council was convicted only of street racing. He received 24 months of court probation a punishment that had ended before he was hired by the sheriff's department.
Sheriff's officials knew about Council's conviction and the plea deal when they hired him."

His father is a Sgt. in the SCCSO. If it weren't for nepotism, we'd probably have no police at all.
Yeah. I made it through the tests/interviews for SJPD 18 months ago before neglecting to fill out the 80 page background check, (I had a landlord issue from 2000 in MN that I was sure was going to come up...) but there were like 400 applicants for 60 positions.

Hence, with so many to choose from, there is no way someone with a recent conviction/probation gets in without nepotism.
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Old 05-13-09, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
Yeah. I made it through the tests/interviews for SJPD 18 months ago before neglecting to fill out the 80 page background check, (I had a landlord issue from 2000 in MN that I was sure was going to come up...) but there were like 400 applicants for 60 positions.

Hence, with so many to choose from, there is no way someone with a recent conviction/probation gets in without nepotism.
I went through the testing/interviews for SFPD back a few years ago.

I was put on the waiting list, but also never bothered to submit my background check.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Ty.S View Post
"Council, who could not be reached for comment, has been collecting his $82,168 annual salary while on paid administrative leave since the March 9, 2008, crash"
Overpaid, under trained..


" Council also has a 2001 conviction for his involvement in a speed contest in Los Angeles County. Council, 20 years old at the time, also was charged with two drunken-driving counts: driving while intoxicated and having a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent, court records show.In a plea deal, records show, Council was convicted only of street racing. He received 24 months of court probation a punishment that had ended before he was hired by the sheriff's department.
Sheriff's officials knew about Council's conviction and the plea deal when they hired him."

His father is a Sgt. in the SCCSO. If it weren't for nepotism, we'd probably have no police at all.
This makes me sick. There oughta be a law...at least one.
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Old 05-13-09, 11:53 PM
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Many people work 12 hour shifts without incident some actually prefer it. Council knew the work schedule it's on him to decide whether it's right for him or not.

Originally Posted by gpelpel View Post
I don't know what caused the officer to fall asleep (overworked, drug or alcohol) but if it's was due to too many hours on the job then the police department shares some responsibility and should have a serious review of its policies regarding the matter.

Unfortunately the dead won't come back so let's hope something good come out of it. I would rather see the man get a light 4 month in-house sentence and see something credible made to prevent such accidents than a long sentence and a police department and administrators washing their hands clean out of it without initiating policy changes.
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Old 05-14-09, 05:38 PM
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At the very least...

While I don't believe a jail term would have served a useful purpose, my feeling is that Mr. Council shouldn't be allowed to return to active duty. I actually never believed that this could happen, but I've heard that's now to be decided.

I wrote to Sheriff Laurie Smith today and excerpt this rhetorical question from my letter:

"If Mr. council had plowed into a minivan and killed two children instead of the cyclists, would there be any possiblity of his return to duty? I feel if he's given another chance, the suspicion will be because it was only cyclists who died, and well you know, they're kind of asking for it whenever they leave the confines of the bike path."

I don't feel that there can be any real justice in this case which I do consider a tragedy, but come on, this guy should be off the department's payroll at least.

I encourage anyone else who feels this way to write Sheriff Smith at:

Santa Clara County Office of the Sheriff Headquarters
55 West Younger Ave.
San Jose, CA 95110-1721
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Old 06-04-09, 09:40 PM
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So no jail time, a years paid vaction, and a demotion.

The Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy who killed two cyclists after falling asleep at the wheel of his patrol car last year will be demoted from his job as a law enforcement officer and reassigned to a civilian position at about two-thirds the pay.
http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12523465
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Old 06-04-09, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ricebowl View Post
So no jail time, a years paid vaction, and a demotion.

http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12523465
I'm stunned What does it take for a cop to get fired in SC County? Pre-meditated murder? Where is the justice in this sentence? Sickening.
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