CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST CYCLIST DROPPED!
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Intent isn’t synonymous with harm: 5 words that have resonated with me since I heard Bike Law Texas attorney Charlie Thomas say them. They could not be more true.
Javi might never get answers to some very important questions:
- Why did the Deputy Sheriff arrest, handcuff, and throw him in jail?
- Why was he treated differently than his friend who, while not deserving of the treatment Javier received, also failed to come to a complete stop and was riding with Javi throughout the entire dash and body cam videos provided by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department?
- Why did the arresting officer directly question Javier’s immigration status when Javi could not recall his social security number and after being informed he is from Puerto Rico?
- Why was his father denied permission to provide the Deputy Sheriff with the medication Javier takes daily to prevent seizures caused by a brain tumor?
- Are there consequences for the Deputy Sheriff for making untrue statements in both his written and publicized report and to Javier’s father when Javi was arrested and thrown in jail for 8 hours for things he did not do?
But Javier asks these questions knowing that the absence of answers might be as telling as the answers themselves. And he is very brave because he wants his experience to inspire people — cyclists and non-cyclists alike — to think about what happened to him and how we can prevent it from happening to anyone else. After all, if you ask his mother, Annette, she will tell your that her son wasn’t sitting in a yellow jumpsuit in that jail cell for 8 hours alone. She felt as scared and helpless as Javi did. The impact of this injustice is geometric, not linear.
Whether Javi was intentionally targeted or not, the decisions the Deputy Sheriff made in his pursuit of the two boys, Javi’s subsequent arrest, and the factually inaccurate report he wrote describing the series of events which led him to exercise his authority and power in the manner he chose to do so have created a nightmare for this young man and his family.
But today has been a good day for Javi and his family. And a good day for cyclists everywhere. It takes courage to marshal one’s own suffering and confusion and transform the impact of grave injustice into something positive … for others.
Today Javi and his mom spoke candidly with Bike Law’s friend, Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld (CBS affiliate News 6) about what happened on February 8th, and why they both feel it’s so important to share their experiences. With the help of Seminole Criminal Defense Attorney Dave Webster, Bike Law Founder and Attorney Peter Wilborn, the support of the Sanborns (owners of David’s World Cycles where Javi is employed), and his shop manager and my friend, Angel Ledesma, this family finally has a chance to clear the air and respond to the weeks of misinformation, assumption, false allegations, and rumors that have been circulating within our community and across the Nation.
Javi wears a St. Benito medal around his neck. He’s the Patron Saint of Protection and Salvation. Javi still believes that the police are supposed to do one of those two things. As for the other, he plans to stay the course and pursue his dreams to become a professional cyclist while advocating for the rights and wellbeing of his community.
Please tune in to News 6 on Friday to see the full interview.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Three weeks, 4 days, and some odd hours.
Three weeks, 4 days, and some odd hours too long.
State Attorney Phil Archer said in a press release today that his office will not prosecute Javi and all criminal charges have been dropped.
Javier has decided to take responsibility for the stop sign ticket. Javier’s decision to take accountability for what he DID do is equally as indicative of the fine young man he is as his legitimate upset (and the community’s outrage) for being so disproportionately and unfairly punished for the things he did not. As a cyclist, he continues to display the kind of leadership qualities that make our community so special. Even in the midst of suffering a grave injustice, his and his family’s position remained the same: all riders have the same responsibilities as other road users and accepting the citation for failing to stop at the stop sign was never something to which he was opposed.
When I say it takes a village, I mean it. It truly does. On behalf of Florida’s (and our national) dynamic cycling community, Javi’s resilient and supportive family, the Bike Law Network, Bike Law Foundation, and Bike Law Founder and Attorney Peter Wilborn, I would like to thank our dear friend and well-known and respected Seminole Criminal Defense Attorney Dave Webster. His assistance with our client in this matter was both swift and successful and made the pursuit of justice possible. I am thankful to be part of this team and pleased to report the best possible outcome for a worst possible situation.
While there is great relief for Javier and his family, there is a completely natural “hang-over” that occurs after a victory like this one. The harm and upset caused by his arrest, the many hours he sat in a jail cell being treated like a criminal, the vicious attacks by strangers hiding behind keyboards, and the wrongful assumptions made about his character and defining characteristics of his parents don’t go away with the dismissal of criminal charges. They linger. And they linger for much longer than the nightmarish 3 weeks, 4 days, and several hours since February 8th.
Bike Law appreciates everyone who offered and continues to offer support and positivity during this difficult time and would like to request that the community give Javi and his family some privacy, an opportunity to process what they have been through, and time to enjoy life without the stress and fear that’s consumed them for almost a month.
Javi promises to use his voice soon but for now, he is looking forward to a quiet weekend doing what he loves with those he loves.
Monday, March 2, 2020
While it’s been a relief to both Javi and his family to have things settle down a bit since a Seminole County Deputy Sheriff arrested Javier and threw him in jail on Saturday, February 8th, there’s no undoing the distress, fear, upset and worry caused by what occurred and how Javi was treated.
It’s been a very difficult three weeks for this boy and his family as they wait quietly and respectfully, forced to trust the very process that turned their lives upside down.
Being stopped by supportive strangers in the Orlando area while out and about, and at his dad, Javier Sr.’s, recent road race in Miami a couple weekends ago, are reminders that the tempered media frenzy is not indicative of a diminished desire by Florida’s cycling community to see justice for Javier and his family.
The Sheriff’s Department said very matter-of-factly in response to News 6’s request for a statement that, “…the [police] report speaks for itself.” We all know after seeing the body and dash cam footage provided by the Sheriff’s Department that a different response would have been both more appropriate and much less upsetting given the facts as we now know them.
What does speak for itself, however, is the way Javi and his family have chosen to respond to the ridicule, rumors, accusations, and assumptions born from this nightmare and grave injustice. There’s an anecdotal proverb that references the way one’s character is defined — something poetic about how a person handles tangled Christmas lights, lost luggage, and being stuck in the rain. This experience has been exponentially worse by every metric, but Javier, his mother, Annette, little sister, Gabriella, Abuela, and father, Javier Sr., have managed this and the subsequent shots fired across the bow by people who have no idea what they’re talking about with absolute grace.
Three whole weeks. This has consumed this family’s quality of life for three whole weeks.
We appreciate the significance of seconds in the sport of bike racing; minutes feel like a lifetime.
So today I am happy to share the following:
1. Javi and his dad both placed 3rd overall at the Chain of Lakes Cycling Classic this weekend. They continue to ride and race together and cycling remains an important part of the special relationship between father and son.
2. Javi loves his job at David’s World Cycle and I personally have warm feelings for his mangers Angel and Carlos, and the Sanborns (shop owners) who have been pillars in the cycling community here for decades. He keeps riding. PROUD.
3. Our team (which includes Bike Law founder Peter Wilborn and Seminole County criminal defense attorney Dave Webster) will have a detailed update to share with you all very soon as Javi isn’t just a smart, sweet, talented, and hardworking student, local bike shop employee, and cyclist. He also has an in invaluable voice and he is looking forward to using it to share his experience, how it’s has impacted his life, and why advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves is so important.
As upsetting as this incident has been for Javi, his family, and all of us who have been following along since February 8th, Bike Law’s family has grown, and I am grateful for my new friend. This kid is going places and deserves all the success and happiness in the world.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 11:45 a.m.
Here’s the Dash Cam and Body Cam video of exactly what happened.
Here’s the Dash Cam:
And here’s the Body Cam:
Complete videos on the Bike Law Youtube Channel.
Monday, February 10, 2020, 2:30 p.m.
I decided to give a statement to Channel 6 today because the Lopez family is understandably upset that articles and reports which piece together hearsay from a social media post and a police report do not accurately reflect what occurred on Saturday morning. Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld and the folks at Click Orlando have been incredibly supportive of our efforts to make Florida a safer place to ride a bicycle and I felt comfortable clearing the air as much as possible at this juncture. Of course we all wish we could share more, but Javier’s best interest is what’s most important and we are still hoping for swift justice which sometimes, ironically, takes time.
I felt it was important to express that our involvement with this situation has nothing to do with Javier’s alleged failure to stop at the stop sign. I also want to reiterate our belief that obeying traffic laws and respecting law enforcement is the responsibility of all road users regardless of the number of wheels we choose.
What makes this situation so troublesome isn’t whether a boy or two failed to come to a complete stop. What’s disturbing is that a boy was thrown in jail for something he didn’t understand and something that both he and the only eye witness insist he didn’t do. At this time we do not have any evidence to support what is in the police report but do have video evidence which corroborates the testimony given by both Javier, the eye witness, and several other cyclists that were on that ride Saturday morning. It’s important to express that every cyclist on that ride that was an observer to Javier being cuffed and taken to jail acknowledged that if he had in fact not come to a complete stop that issuing a warning or ticket for the moving violation would have been a reasonable response by the Deputy Sheriff. No one was seeking special treatment or claiming to be above the law.
Our continued hope is that there is a resolution in the next couple of days that allows a fine young man with no prior citations, tickets, or arrests to put this horrible experience behind him and focus on the things he loves: going to college, working at his local bike shop, and riding his bike!
Sunday, February 9, 2020, 2:30 p.m.
Bike Law wants to thank the thousands of cyclists, clubs, coaches, and organizations who have spread the news about the arrest of Javier Lopez. I recognize how understandably concerned our community is and am always amazed by our diversity, unity, and resilience.
We also want to thank the many of you who tagged and reached out to us to help. Your faith in us to protect the rights of cyclists is much appreciated.
We were contacted by Javier and his family yesterday shortly after it occurred, and I spent the morning today with them. We will be helping them through this ordeal.
We are conducting an independent investigation and have been in contact with the appropriate officials.
Javier is a remarkable young man and it’s Bike Law’s honor to help him out. While we are not in a position to disclose any further information today, and while it’s understandable why our community is outraged, I am happy to report that we are working on a path forward to resolve this matter as swiftly as possible. We will share more information as soon as we are able.
Until then, please rest assured that Javier is safe and comfortable at home with his family. We ask that their privacy be respected and thank you all for coming together during their time of need.
Javier and his family this morning (L – R: Annette, Gabrielle 14, Javier Jr. 18, Javier Sr.).