A retired D.C. police officer is due in court Thursday on assault and other charges stemming from a videotaped collision last year between the man’s truck and a bicyclist.
The case languished for more than nine months after the collision, with no charges brought against the truck’s owner, John Diehl, because officials had been unable to serve a judicial summons on him. After being informed by a reporter of a bench warrant for his arrest in the case, Mr. Diehl turned himself in and was indicted last month on four criminal charges from the August 2011 incident.
The case was scheduled for a status hearing Thursday in D.C. Superior Court. Mr. Diehl faces four criminal charges from the incident — assault, leaving the scene of a collision that caused both personal injury and property damage, and destroying property.
The case stems from a crash, videotaped and posted online, that highlighted tension between drivers and cyclists who share city roads. Cyclist Evan Wilder of Mount Rainier filmed the collision from his helmet-mounted video camera. His video shows a driver yelling out of his truck’s passenger-side window at Mr. Wilder as the cyclist rides along Rhode Island Avenue Northeast. The Toyota Tacoma truck then appears to swerve toward Mr. Wilder and continues going although the cyclist tumbles from his bicycle to the ground.
Mr. Wilder, who suffered injuries to his leg and hip in the crash, said officials told him shortly after the incident that they did not plan to pursue assault charges against the driver of the truck. The D.C. attorney general’s office eventually charged Mr. Diehl with leaving the scene of a collision. However, the U.S. attorney’s office took over the case from the attorney general with the indictment in October, court records show.
In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Wilder said he views the filing of an assault charge against Mr. Diehl as a positive step toward making the District’s roads safer for cyclists.
“It does seem that the fact a driver is being prosecuted for assault is a message for drivers,” said Mr. Wilder, who continues to commute daily by bicycle to his job in the District.
Maximum punishment for assault causing significant bodily injury — the most serious of the four criminal charges — is up to three years in jail and a $3,000 fine. In previous interviews, Mr. Diehl confirmed that he was retired from the Metropolitan Police Department and denied involvement in the collision. Court records show he pleaded not guilty to the charges. Neither he nor his attorney could be reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.
When police inspected Mr. Diehl’s truck about two weeks after the crash, officers noted a small dent on the rear passenger-side fender and also saw cones in the bed of the truck like ones that can be seen in the back of the truck in Mr. Wilder’s video, according to court documents.