by John Greenfield
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Security camera footage recently obtained by the State’s Attorney’s Office shows that motorist Ryne San Hamel fatally struck cyclist Robert “Bobby” Cann at the intersection of Clybourn and Larrabee, according to victim advocate Sharon Johnson. Previously the authorities did not know if the crash happened at the intersection or if San Hamel, who police say was intoxicated and speeding at the time, struck Cann from behind.
The crash happened on the evening of May 29. Cann, 26, was riding from work at the nearby Groupon offices when San Hamel, 28, struck him. San Hamel was charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI, reckless driving, and failure to stay in the lane.
Johnson, from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, said the video likely came from a camera installed outside New Zaika restaurant, 1316 North Clybourn. She said she has not seen the footage, and Cann’s family likely won’t see it unless the case goes to trial. The video provides evidence that San Hamel, who was traveling southeast on Clybourn, was driving under the influence, although there does not seem to be evidence he ran a red light, she said.
Cann had been traveling north on Larabee prior to the crash. Johnson was uncertain if the video shows him turning northwest at the intersection, continuing north, or turning southeast. The first two directions would have taken him towards his Lakeview home, while a right turn would have taken him to a bike shop just around the corner.
Cann has been widely described as an ambassador for safe cycling. If the video indicates that he ran the stoplight, it’s likely the defense will try to use that to mitigate San Hamel’s sentence. Even if that is the case, Johnson said the driver should be held fully responsible for Cann’s death. “The state statute clearly says that if a person has drugs or alcohol in their system and kills someone with their car, that person is guilty of aggravated DUI death,” she said.
The most recent court hearing for the case was February 20. San Hamel showed up more than two hours late, supposedly because his defense attorney gave him the wrong date, Johnson said. Since San Hamel is currently out on bond, had he not appeared at all, there would have been a warrant for his arrest.
The brief hearing was essentially a status report, in which the prosecution and defense provided an update to Judge Williams Hook about discovery, the process of sharing information between the two sides. About 12 Cann family supporters attended, Johnson said.
The next hearing was scheduled for Friday, April 11, at 10 a.m. at the Cook County Courthouse, 26th and California, room 301. The State’s Attorney’s office expects that tests on San Hamel’s car and analysis of other evidence for reconstructing the events of the crash should be completed by then, Johnson said.
After that, the next step is for San Hamel’s side to look at all the evidence that the state has provided and plan their defense strategy. It’s not clear yet whether there will be a plea agreement, a bench trial, or a jury trial. “The defense is basically going to try and dispute the evidence and any expert witnesses that the state has if it goes to trial,” Johnson said.