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Bobby Cann Updates: Ryne San Hamel Pleads Guilty, Receives 10 Days in Jail

Jason Jenkins at ActiveTrans is helping to coordinate community response.  If there is any chance you can attend proceedings, please reach out to him:


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Remorseful woman gets a year in prison for crashing into trooper's car while drunk, giving him a black eye and a concussion. Judge admits that she would've gotten probation if the injured person wasn't a cop.

John Greenfield follows up with an account of the events surrounding Bobby Cann's death in the Chicago Reader and an analysis of Judge Hook's ten-day sentence:

"When San Hamel's blood was drawn more than three hours later, he was still found to have a blood alcohol level of .15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit."

"In addition, Bullard and Jenkins both say that Hooks didn't seem to take the scientific evidence of San Hamel's intoxication seriously. Instead, the judge said during an earlier hearing that, taking into account the defendant's "gait" and "arm swing" in the video footage, he didn't appear drunk, so he wasn't convinced that San Hamel was impaired."

Chicago Reader full article:

Another important read, "Ten days for a drunk driver who killed is a travesty" 

San Hamel had two previous alcohol-related arrests on his record, but he was able to escape responsibility for this one, the culmination of his recklessness, with the help of a celebrity defense attorney. Unfortunately, our case is not unique. In November 2015, Judge Nicholas Ford sentenced drunk driver Robert Vais, who killed cyclist Hector Avalos, to 100 days in prison and 2 years probation.

We can only conclude that the State of Illinois does not recognize drunk driving — particularly when its more affluent citizens are behind the wheel — as a true threat to the safety of our community.

If the state is not interested in correcting this behavior, we as a community must hold one another accountable. It may be uncomfortable to insist that a loved one, friend or even an acquaintance put down their car keys, but it can be done with kindness. When people drink and drive, they’re putting their own lives at risk. It is an act of love to insist that a friend who’s had too much to drink find another way home — a task that’s never been easier in the age of Lyft and Uber.

TRANSCRIPT of the final hearing/trial of 26 January 2017:

I suppose I'm prejudiced but from reading the transcript it seems like our attorneys, the States Attorney, didn't do much to seek a better outcome, and Judge Hooks showed an inordinate amount of tolerance and acceptance for killing. If I ever got arrested for murder I hope I'd get Judge Hooks so I could find a way to wiggle out of expected punishment.

Like others, it's only after this final hearing, and John's “Streetsblog Chicago” that I learned of the red-light issue, and of the existence of several videos that were never made available. Why wasn't this information made available earlier? Why did Ms. Coleman, the Assistant State Attorney even mention that San Hamel had a green light? (Page 13) While true, it seems to me this took away from her argument rather than supported it.

In the future, if this ever happens again (and I hope it never will) it would seem to me that the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicago Bike Federation) could acquire, and publish these transcripts. As a dues-payin' – card-carryin' member of the ATA I make this suggestion. All the secrecy about reporting over the years didn't seem to do any good and the transcripts would provide an open, balanced, impartial and fair reporting.

Also in my opinion: we owe a big debt of gratitude to the Court Advocates. If it wasn't for their attendance and participation these trial would have been finished a long time ago and an even light sentence would have been imposed. Each day of the hearings the judge, the States Attorney, and the defendant had to know and see that there were a lot of people closing watching the proceedings and interested in the outcome. Without the Court Advocates, this would have probably ended after six months of hearings and we should be grateful for what the Court Advocates did on our behalf.

If nothing else, sign the ATA's petition,

Some, but far from all, of the previous transcripts:

Thank you for posting this, Bob. Reading the transcript made me appreciate something I had not previously appreciated: the difference between San Hamel and the vast majority of defendants that appear before Judge Hooks.

Many on this forum have been understandably and probably rightly outraged by what appears to be an excessively lenient sentence for a privileged defendant who committed a crime that all can agree was heinous, unforgivable, and deserving of a more serious penalty.

But, I had not thought to consider the case through the judge's lens. From his perspective, he constantly sees defendants who exhibit no remorse. Who no one seems to care about. Who they themselves perhaps seem to care about nothing. By contrast, here you have a defendant who a lot of people care about and who, in the judge's view, exhibited a high degree of remorse.

Does that justify Judge Hooks's sentence? I would say no, and it seems most on this forum would agree. But previously I was completely baffled by this outcome, and now I think I at least understand how this looked from Judge Hooks's perspective.

If nobody cares about you, that makes you MORE sympathetic in my eyes. Those guys never had a fighting chance.

Being privileged enough to have a well-off support structure your entire life reeks of an affluenza defense.

About the prosecutor mentioning the green light... I believe that the prosecution is ethically and legally required to disclose the pertinent facts of the case to the defense and has a duty to not mislead the court.  I don't see how they could have laid out the situation, e.g. going through the intersection with the right of way otherwise.  

"I believe that the prosecution is ethically and legally required to disclose the pertinent facts of the case to the defense"

Absolutely, this information needed to be shared in the disclosure preparation for the trial.   

But when the exchange part was discussed before the court there was no need to mention it.  Of course, it's to be expected that the defense would bring this up.  

Read that again on Page 13; leaving that out would not be lying of misleading.  It was a fact that our attorney, the States Attorney, didn't need to include.

The States Attorney didn't need to take up the defense.  This wasn't part of the evidence, it was part of the arguement.

The truck driver in this case received 10 years for killing 5 in a crash on I55:

That equals 2 years per life. Much more than 10 days for one life.

So much UGH.

"Did Bobby Cann’s killer lie to get a light sentence?"

Ryne San Hamel, the motorist who killed cyclist Bobby Cann in a May 2013 crash while driving roughly twice the speed limit with a blood-alcohol level also about double the legal limit, was sentenced at a hearing in late January. After pleading guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated DUI but before being sentenced, San Hamel addressed Cann's family to provide a tearful—and graphic—account of trying to save the cyclist's life.

The driver's speech may have influenced Cook County circuit court judge William H. Hook's final sentencing decision. While the state-mandated minimum penalty for aggravated DUI resulting in a death is three to 14 years in prison, Hooks sentenced San Hamel to a mere ten days in jail, plus four years probation and $25,000 in restitution.

But bystanders who aided Cann in the aftermath of the crash now say that San Hamel exaggerated his own efforts, and allege that several statements he made in court were false.

Remember that this case never went to a trial.

We've been watching over three years of HEARINGS - where both side list the evidence they are proposing and the other side gets a chance to object to some of the evidence. The judge decides what evidence is presentable and which isn't.  For example, the defense objected to the blood test, said it wasn't obtained properly.  The judge agreed but the State's Attorney filed an appeal which overturned the judge's ruling - so the blood test would have been acceptable to present in a trial if one ever was to take place.

What took place in January wasn't a hearing and it wasn't a trial.  It was a conference with the offer of the defense to plead guilty and find out what the sentence would be.

Read again the law:
Read down to d(1) where it says "  That the defendant or the prosecutor is free to accept or reject the judge’s recommendation"

At that point, given the evidence and the witnesses that our lawyer, the State's Attorney, had available the guilty plea should have been rejected and the willingness to go to trial.  If she would have the defense could have raised the guilty plea and accepted a stiffer verdict or could have said, "We'll see you in court at trial!". 

I wasn't there and I only know what was in the few transcripts and the few reports.  When you go to trial you take the risk of losing.  In my opinion, there was enough evidence and witnesses to have gotten a guilty verdict and the minimum sentence under the law. 


Again, in my opinion, the State's Attorney took the easy way out and could claim that the state obtained a conviction.  The outcome was completely unsatisfactory to us but it was still a conviction to put on their resume.

I got an email today about this case from ATA (one of those mass emails).

In it among other things it says "Active Trans will be meeting with officials to share our petition and demand more accountability".

Which makes me wonder- shouldn't this be coming from their advocacy organization at this point (BikeWalkGo)?

Is ATA's cozy relationship with government officials going to undermine the efficacy of any such meeting? And where and when is this meeting and is it open to the public?

Active Trans attended every court date, helped organize attendees, and shared critical information as well as critical dates. They know firsthand what is happening and there's no question of their dedication in this case.

"Cozy relationship" Not sure where you draw the conclusion and what you are saying about having a relationship with local government. You seem to be implying it disqualifies them to represent us. I know, in setting up and helping with Ghost Bikes, having a good relationship with Aldermen is critical to keeping the Ghost Bikes up and communicating is key. It's important to work with government to accomplish our goals in the cycling community. Yes, at times we express disagreement (as Active Trans is with the email regarding the outcome of the case) but we can also work together. 

I appreciate what Active Trans does for the cycling community. Seeing it first-hand over the last few years, I have developed a greater appreciation for them and will continue to support what they do.


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