Police Release Video of Wheelchair Collision

Courtesy of The Hook, here is the video of Gerry Mitchell being hit by an Albemarle County Police cruiser:

Presumably the delay in releasing this video was to work out royalty payments to the Black Eyed Peas.

45 Responses to “Police Release Video of Wheelchair Collision”

  • Waldo, I take your comments, “Presumably the delay in releasing this video was to work out royalty payments to the Black Eyed Peas,” to infer that you if you have some prejudice against the Black Eye Peas and frankly feel your comment to be inflammatory and a distraction to the real issue at hand. What does the officer’s choice in music have to do with the incident in any way shape or form?

    If my memory is correct the previous reports were that the officer jerked him back into this chair, but in the video it appears the officer and witness placed him back into the pretty gently considering his size. Mr. Mitchell also did not show movements objecting being put back into the chair and they immediately moved him out of traffic into a safer location. I agree that medical precautions would call for immobilization in lieu of moving a victim, but I did not see anything outrageous and the officer’s actions appeared to be in an effort to protect Mr. Mitchell from further potential injury.

    I am glad the Police Department released the video and believe that the release will paint a more positive picture regarding the accident and officer’s actions and dispel a lot of misinformation and conjecture that has been published in the local media.

  • Waldo, I take your comments, “Presumably the delay in releasing this video was to work out royalty payments to the Black Eyed Peas,” to infer that you if you have some prejudice against the Black Eye Peas and frankly feel your comment to be inflammatory and a distraction to the real issue at hand. What does the officer’s choice in music have to do with the incident in any way shape or form?

    Please tell me you’re joking.

  • No, Waldo, it’s not a joke. I think the correct phrase is “detached from reality.”

    Hmm, video showing police car ramming into innocent civilian. That’ll REALLY make them look good. Please…

  • Dan, give me a break. It is a traffic accident. Are you saying that the officer intentionally rammed Mr. Mitchell? Have you ever been involved in an accident where you were at fault…charged or not? There is no difference between the two and involved parties have the ability to file civil suit to remedy damages……and Mr. Mitchell has such right. Just saying that the accident did not appear near as bad on the video as portrayed by the local media and posts here.

    Waldo, I stand my statements regarding your unnecessary and inflammatory comments. I respect your web site and comments 99% of the time, but this time you were out of line.

    Sorry, just my opinion and that’s what great about being American. We can exchange ideas and agree to disagree.

  • I’ve been in two accidents. One my fault. One not. But then, I’m not a trained police officer, and the accident that was my fault was not a result of gross negligence. I’ve also never sent anyone to the hospital. Nor have I used my power to excuse those at fault and victimize the innocent.

    The issue isn’t necessarily the severity of the accident, even though it was clearly very bad and could have easily been much worse. The issue is the conduct of the police department and their lack of accountability. If you were to hit someone at that intersection tomorrow, do you think there’s any chance in hell that you wouldn’t be charged?

    On a different note, I had a co-worker get his car hit while parked on the side of the road there. Someone making a left turn. At the time, the police said it happened frequently there. Not to say that thinking wrongly you can make a tight turn and not braking for a wheelchair are even in the same ballpark.

  • Speaking music references, I was thinking more of Steely Dan


    Agents of the law
    Luckless pedestrian
    I know you’re out there
    With rage in your eyes and your megaphones
    Saying all is forgiven
    Mad Dog surrender
    How can I answer
    A man of my mind can do anything

  • Waldo, I stand my statements regarding your unnecessary and inflammatory comments. I respect your web site and comments 99% of the time, but this time you were out of line.

    Please explain specifically what about my comment was “inflammatory” and in what way it shows “some prejudice against the Black Eye Peas.” I’d be just tickled to see you explain any way in which my comment could possibly be considered offensive. For bonus points, reconcile this with a) my great respect for Gerry Mitchell b) my general respect for the police and c) the fact that I’ve seen BEP in concert.

    Alternately, you could just confess that you jumped to conclusions, that there is actually nothing inflammatory about my comment, and inquire as to what it is that I actually meant.

  • I am puzzled, considering all the publicity, why I have seen published only the picture of Mitchell, and not the police officer. Or did I miss it?

  • I somehow missed that this accident occurred on a LEFT turn. This means the wheelchair was in front of the police car the whole time, the police car and the wheelchair were rolling side by side for 15 feet, or the wheelchair was moving faster than the police car, which would mean it rolled past the driver’s window. Sorry, that’s terribly inattentive driving.

  • Golfer,

    Nobody said anything bad about the Black Eyed Peas. Their music is in the video and distribution of the video entails reproduction of their intellectual property. You’re snapping at Waldo for no reason.

  • does the audio only record when the officer puts the lights on? In that case his music is pretty loud. I agree with ducktroller, “terribly inattentive driving”.

    on television you can see the pedestrian light was a solid red hand, but if the light is green in that direction shouldn’t it have been “go”. Is the pedestrian signal functioning properly?

  • Could it be that the wheelchair was too slow getting across before the signal changed? I don’t know the sequence at that intersection but the thought occurs to me. Ducktroller, I don’t think the chair outran the police cruiser. The man must’ve been in the crosswalk for some time. It seems most law enforcement officers in this area do a great job and have great pride in their service. While such pride would be supported by being held to a higher standard, in all these pedestrian strikings we’ve had recently it seems the police get a “pass”. That cannot be good for morale or for public confidence. As a member of the public seeing police drive faster than the limit and getting a pass when accidents occur, I am left wondering how detrimental is the “thin blue line” to the public service of law enforcement. These good men and women should be setting an example, building public trust and happy to take their punishment when they foul up, for the pride of the badge. It seems to me that the alternative is an eventual “us vs them” perception of a gang mentality. I am sure nobody on either side of the thin blue line wants that. I hope our leadership considers it.

  • Regarding how Mr. Mitchell was put back in his chair–Gentle or not, he shouldn’t have been put back in his chair at all. I realize that the officer’s instinct was just to get him out of the street quickly, but it would have been more appropriate to reroute traffic around the accident, and let the rescue squad immobilize Mr. Mitchell until it could be determined, at the hospital, whether or not he’d sustained an injury to his back or spinal cord.

  • I think it would be helpful to review some of the Hook’s previous reporting on the incident and compare to what the video shows. Although I am sure the incident was traumatic for Mr. Mitchell, he was not “hurled” through the air or “run over”. It appears to me that both he and the officer share responsibility in this as Mr. Mitchell, as he has stated, did not press the walk button and was clearly crossing against the light. Although he did come into a blind spot with the police car, the policeman should have seen him if Mr. Mitchell was waiting for the light and should have anticipated that he would cross. After seeing the video though, this is not a horrible “misjustice” as others have stated, it is just an example of poor judgement on both parties fault and an over jealous reporter who wants to make a name for herself.

  • Many years ago the “Thin Blue Line” meant so few cops attempting to do so much with limited resources. Nowadays it means exactly what you mentioned, Family Guy… the “us vs them” mentality, and the street justice you see dished out for “contempt of cop”. The Silva and Austin thing was nothing but contempt of cop. The nerve of Silva to shout out, “slow the f*ck down!” at a police officer who had just about run over them. I guess Flaherty showed him, eh? Then a few weeks later they run over Mitchell in his wheelchair! I can hardly wait to see Chapter 3 in Charlottesville.

  • The way the Hook describes it, Mitchell was not crossing against the light. He was crossing Main St. Cars on Main St. were stopped for a red light. The police officer’s car was on 4th st, and he was turning onto Main, so he did have a green light, but from my understanding, the pedestrian has the right of way in these situations. If there were a green arrow, for cars turning left onto Main from 4th, then the “Walk” sign would delay until the green arrow had turned red, (such as at the intersection of Park & High Streets) but there is no such advanced green light at that intersection.

  • Family Guy, you raise a good point about the signal. I’ve walked through many crosswalks, not just in Cville but other localities in Virginia, that give you the “walk” command (or the icon) for about 3 seconds before switching to the blinking symbol for another 3 seconds and then your time is up. And these tend to be busy intersections where you get a “don’t walk” for quite awhile, making people more likely to go for it anyway. Anybody know how long the “walk” indicator lasts at this particular intersection?

    Wish I could get “My Humps” out of my head now.

  • Meg, I suspect “My Humps” will be the theme song at the next Police Awards and Banquet.

  • not even out 24 hours and the video has already gone viral!


    and no, i didn’t post it. but i wish i had, since break pays up to $2k for video submissions.

  • I will let you know how the $2,000 thing pans out! :)

  • Tuesday Jan 8, 2008, 6:40 p.m., and 94,017 views nationwide already. :)

  • The video is so appalling that half the people on break.com are calling it a fake. They can’t imagine something like this being a true event.

    6:48 p.m., 95,701 views nationwide

  • 7:56 p.m.

    108,258 views nationwide!

  • You realize, of course, that by ‘fessing up that you were the one you posted it on this site, you’re basically obliged to at least split the money with Gerry Mitchell, don’t you? :)

  • I’m suspect the money will be donated to his lawsuit fund.

    8:17 p.m. 111,858 views nationwide.

  • You know, I have been trying keep an open mind on this incident since I first heard about it, but seeing the video just confirms my initial suspicions of negligence. I was thinking that maybe the officer just tagged the wheelchair with the side of his bumper, but the video shows he cold cocked the guy with the very center of his car!

    Now I know that accidents happen and this was an accident that could have happened to any of us that drive. However, you and I would be held accountable for our mistake and forced to make amends.

    The handling of this incident by the City and County Police is really sad.

  • Correct, Bilco! And by the time your auto insurance company finished paying the damages you would find it being cancelled.

    Had the county cop been charged and convicted of anything, he could look for his personal automobile insurance to go up. Being in a county car at the time has nothing to do with convictions on his driving record. Maybe this is why they protect each other?

  • Wednesday morning, 8:11 a.m.

    167,219 views nationwide.

  • Didn’t see this here.

  • The DMV Driver’s Manual specifically addresses this situation:

    “At a green light you may proceed in
    the direction indicated by the signal or
    arrow if the roadway is clear. If you are
    turning, you must yield the right-of-way to
    oncoming vehicles or pedestrians in the

    (Click “Complete Manual” for the PDF.)

    The manual is not the law, and it stretches the rules of the road towards the side of safety & caution. But that’s a pretty ‘striking’ passage. Bad pun.

    “Pedestrians always have the right of way” is something you hear sometimes, but I think it’s more advice than the law, but it was on the DMV written driver’s test at least once! (Question: at crosswalks, never, always? Answer: always.)

    Blind pedestrians actually do always have the right of way, that’s in the manual pages 33 and 35. For everyone else, your right of way is at intersections and mid-block crosswalks. Crosswalks at intersections don’t mean anything.

    More of that PDF… page 35…
    “You must yield the right-of-way to
    pedestrians who are crossing a
    street within a clearly marked
    crosswalk or at an intersection.”

    Compare the more advisory page 23…
    “Be alert for pedestrians at all times.
    Slow down and be prepared to
    stop. Always yield the right-of-way.”

    As for the pedestrian’s responsibility to obey the walk signal, it says:
    … page 40…
    “Traffic signals apply to drivers, motorcycle
    riders, bicyclists, moped-riders and pedestrians.”

    So he had the green but not the icon symbol…

    So they both get a ticket!

    Mid-block crossing is safer of course, but that’s another matter. I’m a big jaywalker myself. I also run red lights on bicycles. War against the motors man.

  • Thanks for quoting all that, Colfer. I wish more people were aware.

  • Anybody here is going to sign up for the Mayor’s new traffic safety committee? It’s time now to take action and improve the situation!

  • Wednesday Jan 9, 2008 12:41 p.m. 186,653 views nationwide

  • Demopublican is in error in posting that the accident will be on the cops record, anytime a cop is in an accident on duty they do a form that is forwarded to the DMV with the FR-300 (DMV accident report) that simply states “this accident was in the performance of official duties, so it should not be included on the the officer DMV record”. Basically, you can blow a red light going 100 mph and kill somebody if you are a cop on duty, and it won’t go on your record. If you don’t believe me ask any cop they will tell you. Firefighters and EMS workers probably get the same deal. Basically, Wheeler should have obeyed the signal and cop should have been paying attention, but accidents happen thats why they are called accidents. The cop and Wheeler are just victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could have happened to any of us cause we all do it. The error was writing the guy a ticket afterward, they should have just let it go being the guy is in a wheelchair and all. Ticket or no ticket the county will probably get sued anyway, and the accident report, and tape is all a jury would need to decide who was most at fault, to me it is Wheeler who blew off the crossing signal.

  • Who is the person, “Wheeler,” that you mention? The victim was a person named Gerald Mitchell, right? I still don’t understand why no one is going to have accountability for hitting him in the street. I also do not understand your assertion that the ticket that Mr. Mitchell received should not have been given due to his “being the guy is in a wheelchair and all.” It’s not that he needs pity, is it? It’s that he was trying to cross the street and was hit by someone who was operating a motor vehicle.

  • People went to City Council to register their complaints. Anybody planning to go to the Board of Superviors meeting to tell them what they should do?

  • my2cents, if what you say is true, Thank You! Thank You very much! You have just told us about yet another way cops are not held accountable for anything they do. With the form you speak of (FR-300), a cop could be drunk on duty, crash, kill 2 people and never have to answer for it as far as his personal auto insurance or driving record is concerned. His personal insurance company has no business knowing the cop has an alcohol problem, right? His personal insurance company has no right to know he was at fault and killed two people in an accident, right? When did this magic form come into existence, do you know? Because I know a state trooper who wrecked his marked patrol car while on duty and while drunk, and it certainly made it’s way to his personal DMV record and personal auto insurance company (His name is not important because believe it or not he was dealt with accordingly, he was terminated from employment). On the DMV web site I can’t find a FR-300 in their “Forms & Publications” area. The site skips from FR-200 to FR-521. I would like to see a copy of the FR-300 if you can help me locate one somehow.

  • Excuse me my2cents, this is what I get for trying to talk on the phone and answer you here at the same time. Cancel the FR-300 thing, my bad! What I would like to see is the exemption form you speak of.

  • Over a quarter of a million views on break.com as of right now. It’s really sad to see some of the comments some of the low lifes are making over there.

  • Golfer: to amplify the previous explanation provided by jack landers, what Waldo meant by his “royalties” line was a jab at the police and powers-that-be, NOT the BEPs. In order to republish intellectual property, you have to get permission and/or pay royalties. The video was not immediately released. We all know the reason why. But Waldo was pretending to be giving the benefit of the doubt, by “assuming” the reason was that they were first, properly, getting republishing permission from the BEPs before publishing the video, so as not to be in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (humor loses so much when you have to explain it).

    but anyway, if he *had* slammed the BEPs, it would not have been inflammatory, b/c we’re all entitled to our opinions, and how many people will become “inflamed” by a knock at a band? Jeez.

    but, maybe as Waldo originally was hoping, you were joking all along?

  • I think the push bar manufacturer should get royalties too. After all, it was their product that struck Mr. Mitchell and it was in plain view throughout most of the video. I often wonder what practical purpose the push bars serve anyway, other than looking like cool rambos. I can see a county police car pushing a $125,000 Mercedes with a painted bumper off the road now. Exactly who pays the damages to the Mercedes? I don’t have a single car, truck or van without painted bumpers. When a car breaks down can the owner object to it being pushed off the road with those silly push bars?

  • That cop was looking down, period. Doesn’t matter that he lied later. The witness who helped him lift Gerry up heard the cop plain as day admit that he was looking down. When you hurt someone like that, a good person feels guilty and admits things like that in the heat of the moment and is apologetic. But then later, even a good person can change his mind and choose to lie to save his own career.

    Officer, if you’re reading this, we know you lied to the Chief, but we kinda understand. You’re a police officer, which means you’ve dedicated your life to helping people and there’s no way you meant to hit Gerry. Maybe there’s some way that the county will be able to pay for Gerry’s medical bills without firing you.

  • Samantha, you are kidding? You think it’s OK for a law enforcement agency to keep an officer onboard who lies? If the cop told the truth at the scene of the vehicular assault, whether a slip of the tongue or not, he should continue telling the truth.

    Do you have any idea how many cops feel that telling the biggest and best lies in a critical incident is a major part of their job?

  • Friends ofGerry Mitchell

    If you are concerned about the police department’s conduct and its effect on Gery, please see our petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/

  • Text of petition: “Therefore, we call upon the Charlottesville City Council and the Attorney General
    of the Commonwealth to hold investigations into police misconduct and suspected corruption in the city and county police departments.”

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