As Ricardo Neis, a bank official from Porto Alegre, Brazil, was driving with his teenage son early last Friday evening, he found himself having to share the street at the pace of a group of cyclists -- everyday folks of all ages and walks of life who gather together once a month for a leisurely group ride, presumably safe enough in numbers to enjoy the public roads normally dominated by cars. But Ricardo Neis didn't want to 'share' the road at all. Instead, he placed his foot on the gas and proceeded to run over the sea of humanity before him, nearly killing dozens of innocent cyclists whose only fault was getting in his way.
Now Ricardo Neis is facing charges of attempted murder.After running down the cyclists last Friday, Neis and his son abandoned the car; Police found it a short time later and were able to identify him as the owner. As injured bike-riders from the Critical Mass event were being treated for their injuries in a nearby hospital, Neis was contacting his attorney, who arranged with the police for Neis to turn himself in. On Monday, Neis appeared before authorities, though his story was far from remorseful. He says he hit the cyclists out of self-defense.
Note: The following video isn't particularly graphic per se , but the driver's blatant disregard for human life may be a bit too disturbing for the faint of heart.
Neis' lawyer, Luís Fernando Coimbra Albino, says that the shocking footage of her client indiscriminately running down cyclists only tells half the story. Neis claims that prior to the accident, the bike riders were hitting his car and breaking the windows, and that he sped through the crowd because he feared for the life of his son.
Unfortunately for Neis' case, that description doesn't match up with other eyewitness accounts, which say he was increasingly aggressive with the cyclists -- trying to intimidate them by yelling and nudging them with his car. Neis also has a list of prior offenses, which include making threats, and an assault, as well as several egregious traffic violations -- like driving on the wrong side of the street, and driving on the sidewalk.
According to a report from Zero Hora, after interviewing Neis police investigators have decided to charge Neis with 'attempted murder'. Originally, they planned to file a case for 'criminal negligent injury', but in testimony about the incident, it was clear that "he was aware of the consequences of that act," said Rodrigo Garcia of the Civil Police.
Meanwhile, the cycling community in Porto Alegre and elsewhere has displayed an unprecedented sense of solidarity in the wake of this attack -- with demonstrations planned across Brazil and South America in support of Critical Mass and bike riders in general who have been subjected to an underlying hostility from drivers, but that has never culminated into such a violent act.
As crowds continue to gather in response to Friday's murder attempt, the voices of cyclists, pedestrians, and of those who just want more civility on the roads will be joined together in a way that few bike-related incidents have ever inspired before -- making the sound of a roaring car engine seem merely a whimper.
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Driver Plows Through Dozens of Cyclists in Brazil (Video)
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