After hearing about the case of the missing report in Frankie Frankovis’ bicycle injury, KXAN reported on the story, interviewing Frankie and Lenore about the situation.
As of noon Monday, the report was still unavailable, this is the response from the Chief.
Read the initial story here: What does it take to get a police report around here?
Facebook Message from Art Acevedo: Hi, a report was generated. We may want to consider legislation as the Transportation Dept. definition of a crash doesnt include these circumstances. We are looking at adjusting our internal polcies to require a report in instances such as these. More to follow. Write me at email@example.com so we can keep you in the loop on how our policy revision progresses.
Facebook Message from Cyclistlaw Attorneys: We went to pick up the report yesterday and Ruth provides the receipt indicating no report. Let’s discuss this because it doesn’t make sense that a jaywalker running into a person causing serious bodily injury wouldn’t warrant a report?
FB message from Art Acevedo: I agree completely with your position. We do have a report. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can work on getting the report. I was advised by Lieutenant McGowan that a report is ready to go.
FB message from Cyclistlaw Attorneys: I am glad you agree that is always great! What makes no sense is this, you are the chief of police and if it is your instruction that this is APD policy I do not see how State Legislation will fix what is so easily taught in officer training, and already supported by APD policy. When a person is injured due to another’s traffic or safety violation a police officer called to the scene of the incident shall write a report.
Chief Acevedo Because a crash between a cyclists and a pedestrian doesn’t meet the definition of a collision, and it should. Anytime a cyclist crashes and gets hurt a police report should be taken. What if a cyclists crashes after hitting a huge pot hole on a trail or something. From a civil liability perspective we should require police reports statewide.
Cyclistlaw Attorneys: I am not concerned with statewide in this instance I find that to be a red herring. Let’s focus on our City and Frankie. A report should have been written, a vehicle was collided with by a jaywalker causing serious bodily injury. There is no reason she or anyone in this situation should be told this is not the sort of incident that requires a report, that is just absurd.
Chief Acevedo: I agree and we are fixing this at our PD, but my family and I ride our bikes all over the state and I think it’s absurd a bicycle crash isn’t treated like any other collision. I don’t want to leave it to individual departments discretion, i want a report no matter where I crash. I’m going to be reaching out to TX DOT on this issue. We are behind the times.
Cyclistlaw Attorneys: Yes, as a Bike Texas Board Member that is the larger picture and I am glad we agree on the larger issue but Chief of Police in Austin, Texas, why is this happening in Austin, Texas?
Chief Acevedo: This is the first time a crash v. Pedestrian crash has occurred and no report was taken, without Frankie bringing it to my attention we may have not had the opportunity to update policy. Community is eyes and ears for us.
Most of us know Frankie (Heather) Frankovis as a leader and a contributing part of the cycling community. On July 31, 2014, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Frankie was riding on her way to the Thursday Night Social Ride when a person darted out from behind a parked car and ran directly into her on her bicycle, causing her serious and violent injuries. As a result, Frankie had to have immediate surgery to repair her badly-damaged collar bone. She has screws and plates as part of the open reduction internal fixation procedure she underwent to repair the damage caused by the jaywalker.
There were approximately 20 witnesses to this event. Fire Department and EMS arrived on scene and the police were called. The police provided Frankie with a police report number; only, there was no police report written at the time. This means useful information and investigative facts have been squandered.
Frankie patiently reached out to the police department expecting they would provide a report and provided great leave for them to prepare it. When it never did get prepared, she reached out to Police Chief Art Acevedo. In his usual course he directed it to a Lieutenant, someone under him, to deal with.
The lieutenant responded to Frankie that this is not the sort of incident generally requiring a report be written because there was no criminal activity. WHAT? Seriously?!
The police provided Frankie with a report number, made her think and feel they were doing their job, taking witness information, and investigating the crash. But, they were not. According to the Austin Police Department Policy Manual Effective 5-25-2014 and consistent with §342.1 et seq. this is a situation that would require a police report.
Just last semester a jogger was arrested for jaywalking and stuffed into a police car. Why? She refused to give her identification after committing the heinous infraction of jaywalking. Click this link for a refresher in the “other cities citizens are sexually assaulted” comment.
So, we got involved and asked Chief Acevedo to explain exactly what APD considers an event that would in fact require a report. He has refused to respond.
See the exchanges between Frankie and the Chief, the Lieutenant and Frankie, and our office to the Chief below. Austin city cyclists, we must demand better, we deserve better. Frankie deserves to know who her assailant was and that the police care about allowing her the same criminal and civil protections as anyone else. So, Chief Acevedo, what does it take to get a police report around here?
From: Frankie Frankovis
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2014 2:50 PM
To: Acevedo, Art
Subject: Heather Frankovis – Bike incident with injury
My name is Frankie and I am one of the organizers of the Thursday Night Social Ride and Social Cycling Austin. I was on my way to the Thursday Night Social Ride and had a bad bike wreck on July 31st when a pedestrian darted into the street from behind a parked van in front of 320 Comal. He gave me no time to react and we collided hard. I sustained a snapped clavicle that needed expensive reconstructive surgery (titanium plate, etc.). I have contacted Sgt Harper’s phone several times because he is the responding officers Sgt. and only got voicemail, where I have left two voicemails. Officer Griffin was the responding officer amongst a firetruck and 20 people watching the scene. I am writing you because officer Griffin has still not written a report after I have called the Sgt and the Traffic reporting office several times one month after the event happened.
The traffic incident number is 14-2121710.
My name is Heather Frankovis Address of event 300-320 block of Comal South bound. Although I landed in the middle of the street. Happened on Thursday, July 31st around 8pm
Somebody caused me injury that is affecting my life very adversely and I don’t even know his name because there is no report.
I am a very influential person in the community because I have been volunteering and leading bike related events since 2009. I am not allowed to ride my bike for two more months or lead any community rides. I have been patient enough but since nobody is doing their job on this matter I thought I would reach out to you directly. I am a fan of yours and follow you on Twitter, so I thought that you could help me find out why a report hasn’t been written. What this shows the cycling community is that if you get hurt by somebody else while on your bike the APD doesn’t care enough to even write up the damn report. I believe that the jerk who did this was in the commission of a crime (trying to buy drugs) but I can’t prove it.
Anyway, Please make Officer Griffin write up a report that includes the person’s name who did this to me.
Thank you, Frankie
From: Acevedo, Art
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2014 5:17 PM
To: ‘Frankie Frankovis’
Cc: McGowan, Tyson; APD Chiefs
Subject: RE: Heather Frankovis – Bike incident with injury
Thanks for reaching out. Lieutenant Tyson McGowan who is my Administrative Lieutenant and an avid cyclist will be looking into this matter and getting back to you and briefing me. I hope you are well on your way to mending. McGowan is copied here and will be in touch.
Please feel free to call me if you require further.
On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 2:02 PM, McGowan, Tyson wrote:
Thank you very much for your patience! This issue has been addressed and the incident report is now in our system and available. I’ve included below information on how to obtain a police report as well as the website address where this information is available.
The report number is 14-2121710.
In most cases the public portion of police reports can be obtained from the APD Incident Report Database. Please read the instructions on how to obtain the report. Make sure to enter the case number exactly how it is shown in the instructions.
For information about purchasing a copy of the public portion of a police report contact the Austin Police Department Report Sales Unit at 512-974-5407 or 512-974-5408. Reports can be purchased at the Main Police Headquarters, located at 715 E 8th Street. Reports are 10 cents a copy and only the public portion is available for purchase from the report sales office. This is the same report that can be obtained from visiting the APD Incident Report Database. Report Sales hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Lt. Tyson L. McGowan
Austin Police Department
P.O. Box 689001
Austin, TX 78768-9001
From: Frankie Frankovis
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2014 3:26 PM
To: McGowan, Tyson
Cc: Acevedo, Art; Singletary, Antonia
Subject: Re: Heather Frankovis – Bike incident with injury
Hello Lt. McGowan,
I have tried to pull up the report using the case number with no dash as indicated, but I am getting zero responses. I have also tried doing an advanced search and also pulled up zero results.
Is there anyway you could send me a link to the report?
From: McGowan, Tyson
Date: Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 4:17 PM
Subject: RE: Heather Frankovis – Bike incident with injury
To: Frankie Frankovis
Cc: “Acevedo, Art” <Art.Acevedo@austintexas.gov>, “Singletary, Antonia” <Antonia.Singletary@austintexas.gov>
My apologies for any confusion! The report was entered into our system today; however, I spoke with our Central Records Department and they advised that it will take 48 hrs. before the report will be available in the public APD Incident Reports Database. The reason for this 48 hr. delay is to allow them time to redact any sensitive information that we are prohibited by law from releasing to the public; which includes, but is not limited to, name, identifying information and address of witnesses, victims and suspects. If you need information that is not available in the report that is publically available, you will need to file an Open Records Request. This can be done by sending your request to email@example.com.
In response to your inquiry about the report itself, Ofc. Griffin did not initially complete a report since the incident was not one that would normally require that an incident report be written. The officer responded to a call to assisted EMS; however, no criminal offense had been committed. I did however, request that a report be written in this instance.
Lt. Tyson L. McGowan
Austin Police Department
P.O. Box 689001
Austin, TX 78768-9001
Subject: Police Report, Policy Clarification, Please address
Date: Thu, Sep 11, 2014 6:37 am
Cc: “Frankie Frankovis”
Realizing you are indeed busy and this matter was assigned to the below responding Lt. we are seeking further clarification. As you are aware, Ms. Frankie Frankovis was careened into by a jaywalker that ran into the path of moving traffic. As a result of the jaywalkers actions, Ms. Frankovis was seriously injured requiring open reduction internal fixation surgery to repair her collar bone.
The stupefying response from Lt. McGowan indicates that this is not the sort of incident that would generally require a report? What on earth does that mean? Chief, when a cyclist is hit and injured by another violating traffic and safety laws it is our understanding that is exactly what is required to warrant an officer taking the time to investigate and write a report. If we are mistaken then please outline with specificity what exactly is different in this situation that would not have required a thorough investigation and a proper report. Thank you. On behalf of Ms. Frankovis, we and the cycling community are anxiously awaiting your response.
*Edited to clarify that Frankie was on her way to (not riding with) the TNSR when she was hit.
Hi. My name’s Joe Egnot. I’m a musician in Austin. I play accordion with the band Wino Vino, and I have done so for the past seven years.
I learned how HAAM could benefit me last year when I was in a serious motorcycle accident. I wound up in a hospital bed, unable to walk.
At the time, I was working a retail job. I hadn’t had insurance for years—never anticipated needing it—and suddenly I was in a situation where I had no idea of what was racking up against me.
A friend of mine knew an attorney, Lenore Shefman, who specialized in cyclist injuries, and before that the legal world was very nebulous to me. I didn’t know where to start looking, and she came into my hospital room, met with me, told me who she was, laid everything out for me, and I was very relieved, happy, and confident, and we just went from there.
Every step of the way I felt supported, both by Lenore who dealt with bill collectors right away from the hospital, and at the same time HAAM had gotten me Seton Care Plus, which helped me with my doctor visits, prescriptions, everything through the Seton system that I needed.
I would never in my wildest dreams have anticipated that HAAM would step up and help somebody that was in such a serious situation as myself.
In thanks for what HAAM has done for me and other people like me, the Shefman Law Group is going to be donating a portion of their fees to HAAM to give back. And I greatly, greatly appreciate all the help I got from the Shefman Law Group. Both of them saw me through to a solid recovery, and it’s why I can sit here and tell my story today.
You might have heard about the Vulnerable Road Users Law that was passed several years ago in Austin, but what does this really mean both to cyclists and to drivers?
It is important to know the rights and responsibilities that all parties have to share the road. First, we must ask who is a vulnerable road user? Essentially, a vulnerable road user is anyone who might be on the road in something other than a vehicle. This includes bicycle riders, motorcyclists, pedestrians, or even someone riding a horse! Whether you are a driver or a vulnerable road user, there are certain things you should know about what the Austin law requires.
· If you want to pass a cyclist going in the same direction and there’s another lane also going in that direction, you must move into the other lane.
· If there’s not another lane going the same direction, then pass the cyclist only if it can be done at a safe distance. A safe distance is considered 3 feet for cars and light trucks. For trucks and other commercial vehicles, the required safe distance is 6 feet. Note that this distance is measured from the edge of your mirror or from the item that projects farthest from your vehicle, not from the body of the vehicle.
· Drivers making a left-hand turn must yield to vulnerable road users approaching from the opposite direction.
· Drivers may not make a right-hand turn in front of the cyclist unless there is clearly a safe distance between the car and the cyclist at all times.
· The driver should take due care to avoid hitting cyclists on the roadway or in intersections.
· Drivers may not in any way threaten, intimidate, or harass cyclists.
· It is the cyclist’s responsibility to obey all traffic rules and regulations. If you are breaking a law when riding, the city may not be able to prosecute a driver under the Vulnerable Road Users Law.
· Stay alert. Just because it’s a law doesn’t mean that the driver will heed it. Even if you may be in the right, it’s still better if you can avoid injury in the first place.
· If you have been injured, contact Shefman Law Group, where an experienced bicycle accident attorney can help you with your case!
Other cities, such as Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, and Beaumont, have also passed laws related to vulnerable road users and/or safe passing.
Additionally, numerous bills are currently before the state legislature that would provide increased protection for cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Bike Texas has some excellent information on the legislative history of such bills.
If you support the passage of the state-wide Safe Passing Ordinance, you can also sign a petition to let legislators know!
The first consultation over the phone usually lasts for anywhere from 5, to 15, to maybe even 30 minutes. In that consultation, we’ll want to know: were you injured? Where were you injured? How were you injured? Who was with you at the time you were injured, and who may have witnessed these injuries? If you sought medical attention, where did you go? If you haven’t sought medical attention, why not? A lot of people have reasons for which they can’t seek medical attention and that’s understandable, but we’ll need to know that.
When you come into the office for the first initial consultation, we’ll go over that same information at a greater depth and we’ll take a lot more time. In that initial consultation we’ll also explain to you the anatomy of a lawsuit, what you can expect, reasons to get involved in a lawsuit, and perhaps even reasons not to get involved in a lawsuit.
In our office we like to sit down with a client for an initial interview, and prior to coming in we will ask the client to bring in such things as the police report if they’ve had a chance to receive it.
If there is no police report, then if they just bring in the information they were provided by the police office at the scene of the crash. If no police officers responded to the crash but they have witness information, photographs, anything that will tell us something about the facts of the case. If there is nothing other than the client’s own rememberings, that is fine as well.
Remember, bring what you can, the more information the better.
Shefman Law Group is here for you, schedule your consultation by calling us at (512) 386-8117.
Speaking out about the way Austin police officers approach bicycle crashes and injuries, Attorney Lenore Shefman has been featured in Austin Post’s article APD Tries to Ditch Its Anti-Bike Rep. What do you think? Have you had positive or negative interactions with the Austin Police Department as a cyclist? Let us know in the comments below.
In short, how do you know if you have a need for legal representation?
If you’ve been hurt in a swimming or boating incident, injured while riding your bicycle or motorcycle, or hurt as a pedestrian while walking or running, you need to consult with a personal injury attorney. Maybe your significant other saw you get hurt, or you lost some of your wages or vacation time because you had to miss work due to the injuries you sustained. All of these claims are compensable, and you should contact a personal injury attorney right away.
If you have suffered physical bodily injury caused by another’s negligence – whether you have sought medical attention as a result of your injuries or not – you are entitled to and in need of a personal injury consultation. No matter how significant your injuries are, you should speak with a personal injury attorney. Any reputable personal injury attorney should offer an initial consultation at no charge to you. Take advantage of this free service to determine whether or not you should pursue litigation.
The Shefman Law Group offers free consultations in person, by phone, or by Skype to anyone who has been injured in a bicycle or motorcycle crash, swimming or boating incident, as a pedestrian, or any other type of scenario resulting in personal injury. But the truth is we don’t take all cases. We do, however, speak with anyone who needs a free consultation and help personal injury victims evaluate their claims. We help victims of negligence decide whether or not they should involve themselves in personal injury litigation, and the first step in that process is contacting us for a free initial consultation.
Our goal is to make sure our clients are made whole from the harms caused by another’s negligent choices. Let us focus on fighting the parties who caused you harm so that you can focus on healing. So, if you or someone you love has suffered bodily injury, wage loss, or lost time from your vacation due to another’s carelessness, contact us for a free initial consultation. The sooner we evaluate your case, the sooner we can build a strategy to win it.