Video evidence is at the center of the case of a bicyclist who was in court today on felony vehicular manslaughter charges for striking and killing a pedestrian in San Francisco's Castro District last year.
The preliminary hearing began today for Chris Bucchere, 36, who prosecutors say ran a red light before striking 71-year-old Sutchi Hui at Castro and Market streets at about 8 a.m. on March 29, 2012. Hui died at a hospital days later.
Surveillance video presented by Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai today showed Bucchere riding south on Castro Street through the intersection before striking Hui, who was in the crosswalk headed east on Market Street.
Three witnesses testified today that Bucchere ran the red light before entering the intersection and did not try to slow down before striking Hui. One witness, Nathan Pollak, also said Bucchere ran several red lights and stop signs at other intersections with Castro Street moments before the collision.
Pollak said rather than slow down and stop when the light turned red at Castro and Market, Bucchere "crouched down" to accelerate through the intersection before striking Hui.
However, Ted Cassman, Bucchere's defense attorney, filed a motion to dismiss or reduce the charges against his client, arguing that the surveillance video shows he was already in the intersection when the light turned red. Cassman also wrote that Hui and other pedestrians entered the crosswalk prior to having the "Walk" signal, which "severely limited Chris' ability to avoid the accident."
The motion will be considered by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Andrew Cheng, who will rule on it when the case returns to court on Thursday morning.
In the motion, Cassman described Bucchere as a family man with a wife and 6-year-old daughter. He attended Stanford University, works as a software engineer and has a longstanding love for cycling, the attorney wrote.
"Chris has been on a bike almost from the day he was old enough to walk," Cassman wrote, saying he went on two or three long rides weekly and had "a consistent record of caution and safety," including teaching safety classes for other cyclists.
Bucchere's case gained more attention after Hui's death when it was revealed that, on the day of the collision, he wrote about the accident on an online cycling forum. "The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop," he wrote.
Bucchere wrote well wishes for the pedestrian, but said the moral of the story was the importance of wearing a helmet, eliciting critical comments from other members of the forum.
The post was later taken off the site.