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No criminal charges pursued in San Ramon crash that killed NFL coach Greg Knapp

DA's office determines driver's inattention in causing collision with cyclist didn't rise to criminal culpability

Greg Knapp. (Photo courtesy of New York Jets)

Contra Costa County prosecutors this week declined to pursue criminal charges against the driver of the vehicle that struck cyclist Greg Knapp, a prominent NFL assistant coach who died at a local hospital five days after the collision in San Ramon in July.

San Ramon police, who first confirmed the no-filing decision by the county District Attorney's Office to the Weekly on Thursday, concluded that the primary cause of the collision was inattention by the unnamed driver on Dougherty Road that summer afternoon, but prosecutors determined the actions did not rise to the level of criminal culpability under the law.

"The San Ramon Police Department's investigation has concluded and it was submitted for review. We received official word from the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office that they will not be filing criminal charges on the driver involved in the collision," San Ramon police Lt. Tami Williams said on Thursday afternoon.

The DA's office followed up with a public statement late Friday morning, as news of its decision began to grab headlines nationally with news and sports media tracking the case that involved a well-respected football coach with deep personal and professional ties to the Bay Area.

"Bicycle fatalities are devastating events. Following thorough review of the investigation, the Office of the District Attorney has determined that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the requisite standard of criminal negligence on the part of the suspect driver. The dangers of distracted driving are well known; to truly promote road safety, motorists need to be attentive drivers as well," the DA's office said.

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Knapp, a 58-year-old married father of three daughters and longtime NFL offensive coach set to begin his first season as passing game specialist for the New York Jets, was riding his bicycle on Dougherty Road in eastern San Ramon just north of North Monarch Road around 2:50 p.m. July 17 when his bicycle was struck by a vehicle traveling in the same northbound direction.

Knapp, who never regained consciousness after the impact of the collision, died at a Walnut Creek hospital on the morning of July 22.

The story of Knapp's death became an emotional rallying point for cycling groups and bicycle safety advocates in the Bay Area and across the country -- as has Thursday's news of the DA's office decision not to file criminal charges.

The final police report, which was completed earlier this month, confirmed the initial indication at the scene that Knapp was fully within the designated bike lane when the vehicle struck him, according to Williams.

Knapp, who was wearing a helmet, was riding northbound on a stretch of Dougherty Road with three driving lanes and a marked bicycle lane in his direction, not far after the traffic signal intersection at North Monarch Road.

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The reason that the vehicle, which was traveling in the right-most driving lane, drifted into the bike lane was ultimately attributed to driver inattention, according to Williams. It was not immediately reported if police reached a conclusion as to why the driver was distracted.

The investigation and toxicology testing ruled out drug or alcohol impairment, and police previously indicated they would examine cellphone records for evidence of potential distraction. Police had reported that the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.

The San Ramon police investigation was finalized shortly after receipt of the toxicology report, and the case was then forwarded to the DA's office for review and determination of whether to pursue criminal charges. Williams said police were informed of the no-filing decision via letter dated Monday.

The name of the driver, a 22-year-old man from Danville, has not been revealed publicly to date.

"The driver's identity will not be released as a matter of privacy as he is not being criminally charged," Williams said, citing California Vehicle Code sections 16004 and 20012 for the department's policy to keep the name confidential at this point.

Knapp, whose family maintained an offseason home in neighboring Danville, worked for seven teams during his 26-year career as an NFL assistant coach.

He began with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995, rising through the ranks to be their offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003. He also served as offensive coordinator on two separate occasions for the then-Oakland Raiders, and he won a Super Bowl ring as quarterbacks coach for the 2015 Denver Broncos.

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No criminal charges pursued in San Ramon crash that killed NFL coach Greg Knapp

DA's office determines driver's inattention in causing collision with cyclist didn't rise to criminal culpability

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Sep 23, 2021, 5:42 pm
Updated: Fri, Sep 24, 2021, 6:09 pm

Contra Costa County prosecutors this week declined to pursue criminal charges against the driver of the vehicle that struck cyclist Greg Knapp, a prominent NFL assistant coach who died at a local hospital five days after the collision in San Ramon in July.

San Ramon police, who first confirmed the no-filing decision by the county District Attorney's Office to the Weekly on Thursday, concluded that the primary cause of the collision was inattention by the unnamed driver on Dougherty Road that summer afternoon, but prosecutors determined the actions did not rise to the level of criminal culpability under the law.

"The San Ramon Police Department's investigation has concluded and it was submitted for review. We received official word from the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office that they will not be filing criminal charges on the driver involved in the collision," San Ramon police Lt. Tami Williams said on Thursday afternoon.

The DA's office followed up with a public statement late Friday morning, as news of its decision began to grab headlines nationally with news and sports media tracking the case that involved a well-respected football coach with deep personal and professional ties to the Bay Area.

"Bicycle fatalities are devastating events. Following thorough review of the investigation, the Office of the District Attorney has determined that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the requisite standard of criminal negligence on the part of the suspect driver. The dangers of distracted driving are well known; to truly promote road safety, motorists need to be attentive drivers as well," the DA's office said.

Knapp, a 58-year-old married father of three daughters and longtime NFL offensive coach set to begin his first season as passing game specialist for the New York Jets, was riding his bicycle on Dougherty Road in eastern San Ramon just north of North Monarch Road around 2:50 p.m. July 17 when his bicycle was struck by a vehicle traveling in the same northbound direction.

Knapp, who never regained consciousness after the impact of the collision, died at a Walnut Creek hospital on the morning of July 22.

The story of Knapp's death became an emotional rallying point for cycling groups and bicycle safety advocates in the Bay Area and across the country -- as has Thursday's news of the DA's office decision not to file criminal charges.

The final police report, which was completed earlier this month, confirmed the initial indication at the scene that Knapp was fully within the designated bike lane when the vehicle struck him, according to Williams.

Knapp, who was wearing a helmet, was riding northbound on a stretch of Dougherty Road with three driving lanes and a marked bicycle lane in his direction, not far after the traffic signal intersection at North Monarch Road.

The reason that the vehicle, which was traveling in the right-most driving lane, drifted into the bike lane was ultimately attributed to driver inattention, according to Williams. It was not immediately reported if police reached a conclusion as to why the driver was distracted.

The investigation and toxicology testing ruled out drug or alcohol impairment, and police previously indicated they would examine cellphone records for evidence of potential distraction. Police had reported that the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.

The San Ramon police investigation was finalized shortly after receipt of the toxicology report, and the case was then forwarded to the DA's office for review and determination of whether to pursue criminal charges. Williams said police were informed of the no-filing decision via letter dated Monday.

The name of the driver, a 22-year-old man from Danville, has not been revealed publicly to date.

"The driver's identity will not be released as a matter of privacy as he is not being criminally charged," Williams said, citing California Vehicle Code sections 16004 and 20012 for the department's policy to keep the name confidential at this point.

Knapp, whose family maintained an offseason home in neighboring Danville, worked for seven teams during his 26-year career as an NFL assistant coach.

He began with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995, rising through the ranks to be their offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003. He also served as offensive coordinator on two separate occasions for the then-Oakland Raiders, and he won a Super Bowl ring as quarterbacks coach for the 2015 Denver Broncos.

Comments

Jo
Registered user
Del Prado
on Sep 24, 2021 at 6:36 am
Jo, Del Prado
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2021 at 6:36 am

I'm sorry for the Knapp family and ppl on bikes everywhere.
Open season !

One no criminal charges ? no surprise
Never released the name of the driver ? I find this odd, must be well connected


Duncan
Registered user
another community
on Sep 24, 2021 at 10:55 am
Duncan, another community
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2021 at 10:55 am

This must make things even worse for the Knapp family. Knapp was in a bike lane and hit from behind: how could the driver claim that this was unavoidable? This is the DA’s values on display: if you’re in a car, you can kill people on foot or on a bike with impunity. Outrageous.


Ptown Baseball Dad
Registered user
Birdland
on Sep 24, 2021 at 8:34 pm
Ptown Baseball Dad , Birdland
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2021 at 8:34 pm

Very sad about this. My wife and I used to ride our bikes on that same stretch of road. No more. Motor vehicle drivers, driving any number of vehicles, from cars to dump trucks to buses, are getting worse every year. Infotainment dash displays and cell phone are the primary distractions.

It’s hard for me to imagine no criminal charges in this case- involuntary vehicular manslaughter, perhaps??


Joe V
Registered user
Birdland
on Sep 24, 2021 at 9:06 pm
Joe V, Birdland
Registered user
on Sep 24, 2021 at 9:06 pm

How are drivers going to become more attentive, as they suggest, where there is no penalty for inattentive driving. The speed limits are not maintained with suggestions.
Contra Costa County prosecutors made a horrible decision by sweeping this accident "under the rug"


PatG
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2021 at 3:27 pm
PatG, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 26, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Was the car driver at least given a ticket? Like failure to lane assignment/careless driving resulting in death? I've been struck by a car while riding my bike in two separate incidences and both times the driver was cited.


Mr. Julius
Registered user
Downtown
on Sep 27, 2021 at 10:38 am
Mr. Julius, Downtown
Registered user
on Sep 27, 2021 at 10:38 am

Ptown Baseball Dad had it right - why not a charge for involuntary vehicular manslaughter? He was in the bike lane. Was this reportedly 22-year-old texting, on their phone, or changing music?

The press release said the DA found no "criminal negligence".

I don't believe Baseball Dad or others are after a draconian sentence, but how about a year in Club Fed, probation, and restitution?


SteveO
Registered user
Country Fair
on Oct 2, 2021 at 10:33 am
SteveO, Country Fair
Registered user
on Oct 2, 2021 at 10:33 am

There might not be a criminal prosecution, but these circumstances support a civil wrongful death lawsuit. This is very similar to the case Louise Olin v. County of Los Angeles. Put that case name into Google. The plaintiff there was the surviving wife of a man who was killed while riding a bicycle by an inattentive driver who was texting and using a laptop. That case settled for $12,000,000 for the surviving wife. The surviving wife was represented by a well known firm in LA, and that information is all online.


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