Our thoughts are with the cyclists who participated in Critical Mass in Brazil.
Video footage has captured the moments a peaceful critical mass ride in the city of Porto Alegre in south eastern Brazil on Friday evening turned into something much nastier when a motorist accelerated through a group of 130 riders, hitting 20 of them and putting 9 in hospital. The footage is not for the faint hearted.
Incredibly despite the shocking nature of the scenes captured in both films local media reports say that all of the injured cyclists were discharged from hospital after treatment.
Two films of the incident show a relaxed and peaceful Critical Mass ride suddenly turn in to something much more sinister and frightening when a black VW Golf, which according to some witnesses had been follow the ride for some time suddenly accelerates through the middle of the group of over 100 riders with predictably horrible results. The shorter video above contains subtitles and witness accounts, the longer film at the end of this piece is unsubtitled – predictably both films have attracted some hateful comments on Youtube.
Although police found the badly damaged car on Friday night they have not yet been able to locate it’s driver thought to be the 47-year old owner of the vehicle, Ricardo José Neis. While local cyclists have called for the driver to be charged with attempted murder, according to Porto Alegre’s Police Chief, Gilberto Montenegro it is not yet possible to say if the driver intended to run over the cyclists, maybe he hasn’t seen the videos. However, Chief Montenegro has said that If intent is proven the driver may wel face a charge of attempted murder.
One cyclist who was on the ride Camilo Colling, told the Brazilian website Terra Brasil that he spoke to the driver just before the incident, asking him to be patient and stop behaving aggressively towards the riders in his path and warning him that there were children and older people taking part in the ride ahead. The driver allegedly replied “Yes but I’m in a hurry” before ploughing his car in to the group of cyclists in front of him.
The authorities recovered the car shortly after the incident and identified its owner, but Neif has so far proved more elusive having reportedly gone in to hiding. According to local reports a lawyer claiming to be acting for the driver has contacted police telling them that is client will surrender voluntarily on Monday – there has been no indication as yet whether that man will prove to be Ricardo Neis.
What offence he will be charged with remains to be seen, but many of those who were the victims of his actions or who witnessed them will not it seems be satisfied with anything less than attempted murder a possibility that has not been ruled out.
Ricardo Neis, the 47 year-old driver of a car that drove through a group of cyclists on a Critical Mass ride in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre last Friday has been charged with attempted murder, tomorrow the central banker will also find out whether he will be remanded in prison until he faces trial. In the meantime, according to his defence team Neis has been admitted to a psychiatric clinic “He’s very shaken by the whole situation, stressed and not able to work” one of his defence lawyers told Ultimo Segundo.
Porto Alegre’s police chief, Gilberto Montenegro said that Neis had “used the car as a weapon” he also appeared to pour scorn on Neis’s story that he felt scared by some cyclists banging on the roof of his car. The police now have 30 days in which to complete their enquiries and the prosecution in the case will be in court tomorrow to apply for Neis to be remanded in custody. Commenting on the charges and the move to put Neis behind bars now the state prosecutor in the case Eugenio Armorim said “It’s time to change the culture of impunity, especially in matters of transit. The prosecution has adopted an attitude that was expected by society”.
Meanwhile It has also emerged that Neis has a string of previous convictions for both traffic and offences of violence including attacking his ex-partner, driving on the sidewalk, driving the wrong way down a street and speeding, a gun owned by Neis also went missing from his house and was found in somebody else’s possession. In one piece of good news for Mr Neis, if our shaky grasp of Portuguese is correct, his employers the Brazilian central bank confirmed to local media that Neis would not be facing any disciplinary action from them
The incident, in which Neis ploughed his black VW Golf through 130 cyclists on a Critical Mass ride hitting 20 of them and injuring 8 was caught on film from by both participants in the ride and onlookers – none of those videos shows any evidence of aggression on the part of those taking part, in fact Neis’s black VW Golf appears to come almost from nowhere as it speeds through the group of cyclists containing women, children and senior citizens. (You can view one of the videos at the top of this story).
Yesterday speaking to reporters after three hours spent giving evidence at Porto Alegre’s police headquarters Neis said that he was “terribly upset” about what had happened but that the cyclists had left him with no alternative “I was being attacked, they broke the mirror”. The police confirmed that the only damage to his car mentioned by Neis was to the wing mirrors – something which would appear to contradict an earlier statement from his lawyers that the car windows had been smashed by the cyclists prior to Neis driving through them. In his comments to the media Neis also seemed to depart from the defence line that he had acted as he did out of fears for the safety of his 15 year old son, Neis seeming to put more emphasis on his own safety and on fears of damage to his car.
According to the Brazilian newspaper O Jornal Neis told reporters on exiting the police station on Monday that he had been travelling with his son when he was attacked by the cyclists taking part in the Critical Mass ride:
“I am terribly upset with everything that happened. I very much regret what happened to them (cyclists) all, but I had no other alternative. I was being attacked, they broke the mirror,” he said.