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Friday, August 14, 2009

Police Account of Road Rage: "No Indication that Bicyclist Was Dragged."

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 12:26 PM

**Post updated 8/14 at 7:28PM - New info from police at bottom**

The limited info Portland Police spokeswoman Mary Wheat was able to provide about Thursday's alarming road rage incident along East Burnside raises some major questions as to what actually happened.

Wheat spoke with Officer Neal Glaske, who responded to calls from the scene and spoke with witnesses. According to Glaske, "There were some bicyclists that were riding down East Burnside. A car was driving behind them and when the car went to go around the bicyclists, the one bicyclist [Kevin Stevenson] leaned into passenger window. I don’t have any indication from this officer that this bicyclist was dragged 150 feet. At the scene, the cyclist was on his feet and moving around."

So if there was "no indication that Stevenson was dragged" how did he wind up with road rash that landed him in serious condition at the Oregon Burn Center?

Wheat promises there will be a full investigation of the incident under the Portland Police traffic division. I asked whether the police had the license plate number or name of the driver, but Wheat could only say that the police have "information" about the car and will be pursuing all leads. She was able to confirm that the car left the scene before the police arrived.

"We don’t know exactly what was in the driver’s mind and that’s one of the reasons for the continuing investigation," says Wheat. "If the driver needs to be cited, they will be cited. If the bicyclist needs to be cited, they will be cited."

UPDATE: As of Friday night, the police are now treating the situation as a potential assault—while the case was originally assigned to the traffic division, detectives are now looking into whether the car driver assaulted the cyclist. Officers involved in the case decided to reinterview Stevenson this afternoon and said that his story changed from what he uttered just after the incident. "The initial statement was that the cyclist reached in to grab at the driver. Now it seems that someone inside the car possibly grabbed at the cyclist," explains Mary Wheat. She adds that it's not unusual for police to reinterview people involved in a situation like this, since they may not be thinking completely clearly at the time of the incident.

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