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Questions over recommended charges for motorcyclist who struck SLO protester

SLO PD said it reviewed two videos and several photos of the incident.

After nearly two weeks of widespread calls for action, the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) announced Wednesday it was recommending a criminal charge for a motorcyclist who drove into protestors during a September 2 march in downtown San Luis Obispo. 

Despite claims from the motorcyclist that demonstrators tried to knock him down, SLOPD says its investigation found that 59-year-old David Medzyck purposefully hit a protestor in a crosswalk. Medzyck now faces a possible misdemeanor charge of reckless driving.

The city's police department says it’s also issuing citations to two of the demonstrators for being outside the crosswalk and not yielding to traffic. 

On Thursday, SLOPD responded to social media inquiries about why Medzyck isn’t facing a charge of filing a false police report, along with the other recommended charge. Police say he was making a legal left turn at the corner of Higuera and Osos streets when the collision occurred.

Captain Jeff Smith said Medzyck immediately went from the intersection to the police station to file a report.

“He was not filing a criminal report," Smith said. "He was writing a report for what he perceived happened.”

Smith said the motorcyclist claimed his driving was safe and legal, and that the protestor he struck—LeiYahna Jefferson—got in his way, leading to the collision.

“Nothing he said necessarily was an outright lie from what we saw occur in the videos," Smith told KCBX News on Thursday. "It was just a different perception, and we think it was an inaccurate perception. We felt what he did was unsafe and he felt what he did was safe."

SLOPD is recommending county prosecutors charge Medzyk with a misdemeanor of reckless driving for making an unsafe left turn when pedestrians were in the street. That’s punishable with up to six months in county jail and or a fine of up to $1,000.

Now it's up to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office to decide whether to move forward on charging Medzyck. 

Smith said SLOPD is also issuing citations for infractions to two pedestrians involved in the march.

“The two cited had actually exited what was the legal crosswalk and were out, prohibiting traffic from making a left hand turn," Smith said. "Because they were a contributing factor to this incident, they were issued citations.”

At a rally earlier this month, LeiYahna Jefferson said she felt the motorcyclist hit her with intent.

“You can tell that he was irritated about our movement and what we stand for," Jefferson said. "You can tell that he was a racist. Period. I was in the crosswalk, I was not in th streets...I’m suing.”

Members of R.A.C.E. Matters SLO said they will be releasing a comment on the situation soon, a spokesperson for the organization said for now, “our thoughts of love, light and protection are with LeiYahna Jefferson.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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