- Associated Press - Thursday, July 31, 2014

SUNSET HILLS, Mo. (AP) - The criminal investigation of a small-town Missouri mayor who a bicyclist alleges purposely struck him with his car has been turned over to an outside law enforcement agency.

Sunset Hills Police Chief William LaGrand said Thursday that St. Louis County police will now handle the inquiry.

Competitive cyclist Randy Murdick told authorities he was nearing the end of a 40-mile training ride Tuesday afternoon when a driver he identified as Sunset Hills Mayor Mark Furrer used an expletive while yelling at him to get off “my roads.”

Murdick, 47, of Fenton said the irate driver then swerved his Mercedes 300SL convertible into the high-performance racing bike, causing thousands of dollars in damages to the $12,000 bike and rupturing Murdick’s Achilles tendon. He said he was hit after he responded to the driver’s curses with his own expletives.

“This absolutely was an assault,” said Murdick’s attorney, Michelle Funkenbusch. “It was deliberate. It was intentional.”

Furrer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday that he yelled at the cyclist for running a stop sign and whipping around a corner, but he said he did not swerve or hit Murdick. Furrer, a part-time mayor and retired banker, also said Murdick grabbed onto his car, which Murdick denies.

Furrer declined an Associated Press interview request Thursday, citing the pending county investigation.

“He caught me off guard, frankly,” Furrer told the newspaper. “Because I would have expected him to stop. He came around the corner at a pretty good clip on some fancy bike. Frankly, it’s my mistake, I shouldn’t have engaged him, and I tell everybody I know, never engage them.”

No police report was immediately available. LaGrand told the newspaper Wednesday that he was not sure whether the mayor’s car had struck the bicycle.

Murdick said that another driver had to chase down Furrer, lights flashing and horn honking, to get him to return to the location where the cyclist had been hit.

LaGrand said officers were called to the scene. He confirmed the incident involved the mayor and a cyclist. No one was arrested, and the mayor did not undergo a field sobriety test.

LaGrand defended his officers’ conduct, explaining that Furrer showed no signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, that would have required a sobriety test.

“This whole thing is about perception,” LaGrand said of the outside investigation. “I want the people in the community of Sunset Hills and in the larger community to know how we are committed to an honest and full investigation, (so) we’ve asked the county police to step in.”

The police chief added that Furrer, who had said he turned around at the first opportunity he could to check on the injured cyclist, “returned in a couple of minutes. That’s not leaving the scene.”

The collision came one month after the hit-and-run death of a 54-year-old Clayton pedaler in the city of St. Louis. Cyclist Rick Beards’ death remains under investigation by city police.


Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at https://twitter.com/azagier

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