News

Downtown bicyclist attacked in race-fueled hit-and-run

Police investigate Sept. 29 assault as a possible hate crime

An assault on Sept. 29 in Palo Alto is being investigated by police as a hate crime after a man on a bicycle was allegedly spat on, called a racial epithet and struck with a pickup truck, Palo Alto police said in a press release on Monday.

Palo Alto Police are investigating a Sept. 29, 2022, hit-and-run as a hate crime. Embarcadero Media file photo.

At about 5:32 p.m., police received a call reporting an injury hit-and-run collision that had just occurred on University Avenue at Webster Street. Officers and Palo Alto Fire Department personnel responded immediately.

A man in his 30s was bicycling east on University Avenue in the road and had momentarily pulled farther into the traffic lane to pass a car that was attempting to park. A man in in a pickup truck pulled up next to him and began to yell at him for riding in the middle of the road.

The two men began arguing, at which point the truck driver called the cyclist, who is Black, a racial epithet. The victim reported to police that the driver spat on him, reached out to grab his arm, and then drove the truck into the side of the bicycle. The cyclist fell to the ground.

The cyclist said the truck drove over his bicycle, and the driver turned north on Webster Street and then east on Lytton Avenue. The cyclist later saw the truck turn back onto University Avenue heading east and continue driving. The cyclist's leg had a small laceration, which paramedics treated at the scene. His bicycle was damaged but remained rideable, police stated.

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The driver was described as a white male in his 30s with blonde hair and wearing a construction vest. The truck was a silver Toyota.

Detectives plan to have a police artist work with the victim to produce a sketch of the suspect and will distribute the sketch when it is available, the police said.

Details on other hate crimes reported in Palo Alto can be found online at cityofpaloalto.org/PAPDnews under the search word "hate."

"Officers will thoroughly investigate any reported hate crimes in Palo Alto," the police department said in the press release. "You are welcome to read a blog post from the city entitled 'Steps the Community Can Take to Help Stop Hate Crimes.' The city of Palo Alto strongly denounces hate crimes of all kinds and encourages members of our community to promptly report these incidents by calling our 24-hour dispatch center at 650- 329-2413, or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.

The city’s Human Relations Commission is continuing its work to advance the city’s race and equity initiative, focusing on enhanced public awareness and education surrounding hate crimes and hate incidents in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Police received no other calls about this case from any passersby, nor were officers able to locate any witnesses. The department is asking anyone who might have witnessed this incident to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

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Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Downtown bicyclist attacked in race-fueled hit-and-run

Police investigate Sept. 29 assault as a possible hate crime

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 3, 2022, 7:52 pm

An assault on Sept. 29 in Palo Alto is being investigated by police as a hate crime after a man on a bicycle was allegedly spat on, called a racial epithet and struck with a pickup truck, Palo Alto police said in a press release on Monday.

At about 5:32 p.m., police received a call reporting an injury hit-and-run collision that had just occurred on University Avenue at Webster Street. Officers and Palo Alto Fire Department personnel responded immediately.

A man in his 30s was bicycling east on University Avenue in the road and had momentarily pulled farther into the traffic lane to pass a car that was attempting to park. A man in in a pickup truck pulled up next to him and began to yell at him for riding in the middle of the road.

The two men began arguing, at which point the truck driver called the cyclist, who is Black, a racial epithet. The victim reported to police that the driver spat on him, reached out to grab his arm, and then drove the truck into the side of the bicycle. The cyclist fell to the ground.

The cyclist said the truck drove over his bicycle, and the driver turned north on Webster Street and then east on Lytton Avenue. The cyclist later saw the truck turn back onto University Avenue heading east and continue driving. The cyclist's leg had a small laceration, which paramedics treated at the scene. His bicycle was damaged but remained rideable, police stated.

The driver was described as a white male in his 30s with blonde hair and wearing a construction vest. The truck was a silver Toyota.

Detectives plan to have a police artist work with the victim to produce a sketch of the suspect and will distribute the sketch when it is available, the police said.

Details on other hate crimes reported in Palo Alto can be found online at cityofpaloalto.org/PAPDnews under the search word "hate."

"Officers will thoroughly investigate any reported hate crimes in Palo Alto," the police department said in the press release. "You are welcome to read a blog post from the city entitled 'Steps the Community Can Take to Help Stop Hate Crimes.' The city of Palo Alto strongly denounces hate crimes of all kinds and encourages members of our community to promptly report these incidents by calling our 24-hour dispatch center at 650- 329-2413, or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.

The city’s Human Relations Commission is continuing its work to advance the city’s race and equity initiative, focusing on enhanced public awareness and education surrounding hate crimes and hate incidents in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Police received no other calls about this case from any passersby, nor were officers able to locate any witnesses. The department is asking anyone who might have witnessed this incident to call the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

Comments

Ferdinand
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2022 at 10:37 am
Ferdinand , Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2022 at 10:37 am

What a horrible incident, and so glad to hear the cyclist wasn't hurt even more considering the severity of the attack. Since this happened about 5:30 pm that suggests the driver of the silver Toyota truck probably works on a construction site in the downtown area, Stanford, or nearby vicinity. Our PA development office should have a list of current projects, so perhaps between the city and citizens someone will get a photo of the license, and send to the police.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2022 at 11:19 am
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2022 at 11:19 am

What an appalling incident. It sickens me to hear that this happened. As a person who bikes for my local trips to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get exercise, it is frightening to think that the truck driver was so badly uninformed about rules of the road (the bicyclist's decision to take the lane in order to safely pass a parking vehicle is entirely legal) and so horribly racist that he would be motivated to physically harm this person with his truck. I hope PAPD finds this driver and ensures that he suffers repercussions for assault with a deadly weapon and hate crime.

To the bicyclist, I wish you a complete and speedy recovery from your physical wound and any emotional trauma of this attack--because that is what it was. I'm sorry this happened to you.


olaf.brandt
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 4, 2022 at 1:58 pm
olaf.brandt, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2022 at 1:58 pm

Something not making sense yet.
How did the truck driver grab at the cyclist unless the cyclist was on the left-hand side of the truck? Perhaps there was a passenger in the truck yelling, grabbing, and spitting at the cyclist.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2022 at 2:29 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2022 at 2:29 pm

From how I read this, it is road rage that changed to hate crime when a racial slur was used. I would imagine that many road rage incidents could escalate into something worse by name calling.

Road rage is a big problem and when it gets out of hand it can turn into hate filled name calling, or if the two were the same race, then age or similar name calling.

Sharing the roads, whether it be with bikes, pedestrians or those problematic express lanes on 101. We should all take better control of our tempers when we get behind the wheel of a car, or on the saddle of a bike.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2022 at 2:21 am
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2022 at 2:21 am

Humans within our city borders are extremely vulnerable. Automobiles are lethal weapons. Yes road rage is a felony! I am eternally grateful this human was not harmed beyond repair. Yet. The City’s Human Relations Commission must confront the “Mammoth in the room”. Housing !!! Until we actually deal with the economic, inequity of Area home costs, these growing incidents will continue. Palo Alto’s safe haven “bubble” is no longer. [Portion removed.]


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2022 at 9:25 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2022 at 9:25 am

How does this road rage incident turn into a discussion on housing?

Many bicycles are expensive and those who own them also own expensive gear to go with the bicycle. In fact bikes could be considered expensive toys for the rich high tech workers of Palo Alto whether they are used as weekend recreational vehicles or for commutes to work or Caltrain. Many of these riders are, shall we say, assertive in nature when riding their bikes. I see nothing in the article that would suggest the bike rider does not fall into this category.

How does housing enter this discussion?


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