CHP officer and a motorcycle crash: A matter of interpretation?

- This all started as a charity ride by the Exile Riders from Ontario to Perris. They were delivering two truckloads of toys for Christmas.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) received multiple 911 calls when the bikers were on the 60 Freeway in Jurupa Valley, complaining that hundreds of bikers were slowing traffic and making them feel boxed in and scared.

Eventually, the bikers transition onto the 210 Freeway and the group started to spread out; some riding faster than others, some doing stunts.

Two CHP officers were dispatched to deal with the group. One officer was riding in the slow lane, farthest from the center divider. The second officer was splitting lanes -- and that's where my FOX 11 10 O'Clock News story begins.


The president of Exile Ryders, Mitch Povee, is the one with the helmet cam. The video shows Miguel Cervantes with his bike's front wheel up as he rode a wheelie. Cervantes puts the bike down and Povee catches up to him. Povee in the number one lane, Cervantes in the number two lane. Both are sort of hugging the lane between them. Then a CHP officer splits the lane. Povee to his left, Cervantes to his right.

What happens next is a matter of interpretation.

CHP Spokesman Officer Travis Monks believes that as Cervantes came down out of his wheelie, he braked because he saw the CHP officer up ahead in the slow lane. Cervantes says he felt a jolt, his bike knocked in such a way that his handlebars turned to the left and that's what made him lose control and crash.

Cervantes wound up with a bad case of road rash, bumps, bruises and a citation to appear in court last Wednesday for reckless driving among other charges. And while the officer did not appear in court -- it's not a dismissal of the violation. 

The CHP blames Cervantes' inexperience with the Kawasaki bike. Monks said when the bike went down it hit the officer's rear wheel, but he never lost control of his bike. Cervantes' fellow bikers say the officer -- on a bigger, heavier and wider bike -- should never have split the lanes between two bikers.

Whether intentionally or accidentally, Marcel Douge says he saw the officer's highway bars (the bars that surround the engine) impact Cervantes' bike.

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