The San Luis Obispo Police Department recommends a misdemeanor charge for a motorcyclist who allegedly struck a local Black Lives Matter activist during a Sept. 2 protest in downtown San Luis Obispo, according to a news release.
The Police Department announced that it was recommending to county prosecutors that the motorcyclist, 59-year-old David Medzyk of San Luis Obispo, be charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless driving.
The Police Department has defined reckless driving as “driving a vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others.”
A misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.
The recommendation comes after police investigated an incident where Medzyk allegedly struck Black Lives Matter protester, LeiYahna Jefferson, with his bike on a crosswalk at the corner of Higuera and Osos Streets.
According to the release, Jefferson was allegedly hit in the left leg by the motorcycle but did not report any serious injuries.
The case now awaits review from the San Luis Obispo District Attorney who will decide if the charges recommended against Medzyk will be filed in the San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
Following the incident, Medzyk filed a report with SLOPD claiming that pedestrians in the crosswalk attempted to knock his motorcycle down, police reports said. Medzyk repeated the claim in a post to the Protect SLO Facebook page stating, “I was assaulted while turning from Osos to Higuera, by the BLM mob downtown. … Nearly knocked off my bike.”
Josephine Amarachi, one of the women in the crosswalk at the time of the incident, remembers events differently.
“He looked at me in the eyes … and sped out of traffic.,” Amarachi said. “We knew because he revved his engine at us…his plan was to run us over.”
After reviewing bystander footage and firsthand accounts, the SLO Police Department concluded that there was no evidence to support any physical interaction between the pedestrians and the motorcycle.
“The community has been very supportive, although there are people … who agree with what [Medzyk] did and actually said he should do it again,” Amarachi said.
In addition to the misdemeanor charge, the Police Department has also issued citations to two pedestrians in the street at the time of the incident. These pedestrians have been identified as Amarachi and Artemisia Shine. According to police reports, both women were allegedly standing outside the crosswalk and obstructing lanes of traffic near the same corner where Medzyk struck Jefferson.
A citation is a written ticket that may result in a traffic court appearance and/or the payment of a fine for the violation.
“I know I was outside of the crosswalk, but I was a foot away. The light was still red when [Medzyk] decided to pull out of traffic. It was very premeditated,” Amarachi said.
Jefferson later shared an account of the incident during a rally in support of activist Tianna Arata on Sept. 3.
“You could tell that he was irritated about our movement and what we stand for,” Jefferson said to a crowd of supporters in front of San Luis Obispo Superior Courthouse. “I’m still pressing charges.”