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An LAPD officer's conduct is being investigated after a YouTube video of him ticketing a bicyclist who told him he was blocking the bike path went viral. The cyclist's ticket has since been canceled.
In the 10-minute clip, a cyclist turns on his helmet camera and records the interaction on the Venice Beach bike path, which drew a handful of onlookers who protested that the cyclist had done nothing wrong and that the officer needed to address serious crime in Venice.
The bicyclist, who identifies himself at 34-year-old Chris Jackson of Venice, posted the video after Thanksgiving weekend, when he was ticketed for speeding after telling a motorcycle officer he was blocking the popular bike-only path.
On Friday, Detective Gus Villanueva of the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations Section said that the "ticket had been canceled in the interest of justice." The department is conducing a personnel investigation into the conduct of the officer involved and would not comment further, Villanueva said.
In the video, Jackson states that he had passed the officer's motorcycle and complained that the vehicle was blocking traffic. The officer, identified only by his surname, Gracey, pulled him over shortly after, according to the description of the video, which was posted by user AnarchisticGringo.
Several minutes of back-and-forth with Gracey follow, during which Jackson argues with the officer that he hasn't broken a law by crossing the path's dotted yellow line, and points out other cyclists riding on the wrong side, and pedestrians illegally walking on the bike path.
He tilts his camera down to show the red-and-white beach cruiser he is riding -- a bicycle designed for stability and a slow, easy ride.
The officer finally settles on giving Jackson a ticket under California Vehicle Code 22350, the Basic Speed Law.
"Listen to me, sir. The reason why I'm going to write you for unsafe speed is because you are arguing with me," Gracey says. "This is a catch-all, 22350. Because you're riding on the wrong side of the back path, you're looking at me, and you're complaining because my emergency vehicle is on the bike path. And that's unsafe speed. Looking in the wrong direction, traveling in the wrong way, that's unsafe."
During the interaction, a small group of onlookers gathers around Gracey and Jackson.
"This isn't the kind of police work that we need help with here," states another cyclist who stops to opine. "People are getting robbed. I got robbed about a month ago … We'd love to have you out here protecting us, not harassing us."
Jackson states that he will contest the ticket.
The code under which it was issued appears to apply vehicles traveling on a highway, so it's not clear if it applies to bicycles on a Class I bike path such as the beachside one in Venice.
The video was highlighted by the community blog Yo! Venice! on Thursday and reposted and analyzed by the popular bike blog Biking in LA on Friday.
Jackson was due in court Friday, according to the video.
The LAPD's Villanueva said earlier Friday that he was not yet familiar with the video and had no comment at that time. A phone message left for the LAPD West Traffic Division's bicycle liaison sergeant was not returned.