On August 30th, 2015 I published an article on here regarding the ongoing accident case when a Chicago Police Officer struck my vehicle when he made an illegal right turn from a bicycle lane. Yesterday I received a Cease and Desist letter from the lawyer that is representing the Chicago Police Officer demanding that I not only remove the blog post from August 30th, 2015 but a tweet that did not even mention the officer’s name. I have since redacted the officers name and informed the lawyer that I will remove his identifying information but I will NOT be removing anything that is not mentioning his name directly. The Chicago Police Officer that hit my vehicle while making an illegal right turn will just be referred to as “The Officer” or something similar. If you want more information feel free to contact me via this page.
Now moving on to the updates.
Since the blog post I have received a letter requesting an interview with an officer in The Officer’s district. I have made many attempts to call him but he works the night shift and doesn’t work every night. I will be making another call tonight around 10PM to see if I can catch him then. I am very curious to see if this will go anywhere.
In addition to the interview request I received a Cease and Desist letter from Herbert Law Firm demanding that I remove the blog post and my tweet from the night of the accident.
UPDATE: I did some research on the lawyer that The Officer had send me the letter and he himself is a Chicago Police Officer and is the internal attorney for the FOP. What a surprise.
The tweet in question:
A Chicago PD car turned right from the bike lane while I was turning right and nailed my side. What a fun night… pic.twitter.com/FGpFXMUL0w
— Timothy Hoogland (@forevereighty9) January 13, 2015
I have removed the identifying information that would link The Officer to the article. I also removed any posts that I could find that I sent out to various social media pages as comments. I emailed the lawyer with the law firm that sent the letter informing him of the changes and deletions last night on 10/5/2015 around 7PM CST. I went on to state that I would not be removing the tweet or the blog posting as there is no identifying information linking these to The Officer that had the lawyers send me the letter.
Now on to the letter. (Attached to this post with the identifying information of The Officer removed)
In the letter that I received they covered the following:
- Stating that I struck The Officer’s vehicle
- Stating that bike lanes are standard lanes and vehicles are allowed to drive in them
- Stating that the dashed lines mean that you can enter said bike lane
- Stating that my blog post and comments submitted to various social media posts were defamatory towards The Officer’s personal and professional character
- Stating that if within 21 days from the date of the letter (October 2nd, 2015) I do not remove the blog post, tweet, or any other information that The Officer will be suing me for defamation
Now that we have those points made I would like to dissect them one by one and show where they are wrong.
1. Stating that I struck The Officer’s vehicle
This is pretty cut and dry if you read the last post. The Officer was turning from a lane that was not for cars and struck the passenger door and passenger side quarter panel of my car.
2. Stating that bike lanes are standard lanes and vehicles are allowed to drive in them
3. Stating that the dashed lines mean that you can enter said bike lane
On the 2nd page of the letter the lawyer says that “A bike lane is a travel lane, like a standard travel lane”. Let’s stop right there. The Chicago website and their laws state that “Motorists are reminded that parking, idling or driving in bike lanes is illegal in the city of Chicago.”. Interesting. In the City of Chicago Title 9 of the Municipal Code section 9-40-060 it clearly spells out that cars are not allowed in these lanes unless it is to cross over them to enter or exit a parking space, stand, or on street parking (Source: ChicagoCompleteStreets.org).
Now take a look at the pictures below from Google StreetView showing that there was a bike lane where he turned from. Also note that on the screenshot showing the actual turn lane this was at the same intersection but on the OPPOSITE side from where The Officer made the illegal right right turn from the bike lane. I have included this to show that this is how a turn lane looks when there is a bike lane with it. You can clearly see that the StreetView matches up with the pictures I took on the night of the accident (attached to the original post). That being said there are NO “dashed lines” in the lane that The Officer used, the lawyers letter is trying to say that there were dotted lines.
4. Stating that my blog post and comments submitted to various social media posts were defamatory towards The Officer’s personal and professional character
As per the letter they state that defamation is defined by the Illinois State law as:
- The defendant made a false statement about the plaintiff;
- There was an unprivileged publication to a third party;
- Fault by the defendant amounting to at least negligence; and
- The publication damaged the plaintiff.
Now I have not made ANY false statements so we can cross off number 1. The Officer seems to think that he can make any statement he wants, true or false, and it suddenly is true regardless if it doesn’t match up with reality (the intersection and what happened).
I can see how number 2 may be relevant and as a courtesy that is why I am omitting The Officer’s name from this post, future posts, and redacted it from the original post. This however does not make the information false. I still stand behind everything that I have published as 100% true and factual. With The Officer’s name removed this no longer applies.
Number 3 however means that “This standard requires that the defendant either knew the publication was false or believed the publication was true but “lacked reasonable grounds for that belief.” (Source: DMLP.org)”. Again the publication is not false and I do have more than reasonable grounds for my side. It was meant to expose what The Officer is doing to me and what took place in a means to get my money back for the damage that The Officer caused to my vehicle during the accident.
The last one is cut and dry. According to the letter it stated that it damaged his personal and professional character. However it’s still true what took place on that night and everything that happened up until then. If this is how he handles things, it is probably not his first time bullying someone just because he wears a badge, so I have to argue that seeing how he is handling this it is likely how he is. I have a hard time believing it damaged his character (personally or professionally), he does that all on his own without my help.
5. Stating that if within 21 days from the date of the letter (October 2nd, 2015) I do not remove the blog post, tweet, or any other information that The Officer will be suing me for defamation
I have since redacted The Officer’s name from the blog post and made a best effort to remove any postings that I could locate that made mention of his name. I emailed the lawyer stating this update and stated that if there were more postings that I missed to send me the URL and I would remove the post or remove the officers name. I will not be removing the original blog post, the tweet, or this one as there is no identifying information other than it was a Chicago Police officer. It cannot be linked back to The Officer on it’s own.
That is where I am at with all this. Once I get an update from the Lawyer and/or the officer on the open investigation I will be updating everyone. Here are the copies of the Cease and Desist letter that was sent to me by The Officer’s lawyer with The Officer’s personal information removed as to not identify him.