Heather Lyman, a close friend of Mitchell Hollon’s, posted a comment on “Mitchell Hollon Dies, Law Enforcement Shrugs, and Gregory Rupley Walks” on Tuesday, requesting that I submit the article to the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper. I sent a response to Ms. Lyman by private email and promised that I would do it. Here is the text of that letter and (with her permission) the exchange of messages leading up to it. Now we wait and see if they print the letter.
From: Cranks-On-Cam Moderation
To: Ryan Reasons
Subject: [Cranks-On-Cam] Please moderate: “Mitchell Hollon Dies, Law Enforcement Shrugs, and Gregory Rupley Walks”
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:06:21 +0000
A new comment on the post “Mitchell Hollon Dies, Law Enforcement Shrugs, and Gregory Rupley Walks” is waiting for your approval
Author : Heather Friedrichs Lyman
E-mail : (Hidden)
Comment: Hello…..Mitch was a very close family friend, and his loss and manner of his death has been unfathomable. Perhaps the only thing more stunning is the charge (or lack thereof) against Mr. Rupley. You have succinctly worded here what so many of us are thinking and feeling; might you consider submitting this as an editorial to our local newspaper?
From: Ryan Reasons
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 12:23 AM
To: Heather Lyman
Subject: Re: [Cranks-On-Cam] Please moderate: “Mitchell Hollon Dies, Law Enforcement Shrugs, and Gregory Rupley Walks”
Thank you for your message. I’m deeply sorry for the loss of your friend. I’d be glad to submit this as an editorial. Which newspaper do you recommend? Also, I was about to approve your post for publication on my blog, and make our communication public. Do you feel okay with that?
From: Heather Lyman
To: Ryan Reasons
Subject: RE: [Cranks-On-Cam] Please moderate: “Mitchell Hollon Dies, Law Enforcement Shrugs, and Gregory Rupley Walks”
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2011 09:05:41 -0400
Hi, Ryan — thanks so much for your reply. Yes, it’s fine to post my comment. And yes, it would be wonderful if you would submit this to www.charleston.net (The Charleston Post and Courier). So many of us are reeling from the unbelievably lax charge against Rupley, and I haven’t seen anyone state the case as clearly as you. Thanks again…..
From: Ryan Reasons
Date: Sat, Jul 23, 2011 at 12:08 PM
Subject: Mitchell Hollon Dies, Law Enforcement Shrugs, and Gregory Rupley Walks
During the week of July 4th, the Charleston Police Department determined that Gregory Rupley drove an AT&T utility van onto the shoulder of the James Island Connector and killed popular area cyclist Dr. Mitchell Hollon. A week later, the police announced: “After careful consideration of all the evidence and facts gathered concerning this collision, investigators with the Charleston Police Department’s Traffic Division have charged Gregory E. Rupley with Improper Lane Usage. “
Yes, you read that right. Mr. Rupley is due in court on September 1st to face charges of committing a traffic violation. The same press report that provided the quoted statement above also indicated the Charleston Police Department consulted with the Charleston County Solicitor’s Office to determine the charges. Apparently, the police and prosecutors are going to let Mr. Rupley off the hook for the deadly consequences of his inattentive driving. That, or someone forgot to mention that Mr. Rupley killed Dr. Hollon last week in the process of using the lane improperly.
The State newspaper reports that Police Lt. Chip Searson, of the Charleston Traffic Division, said Mr. Rupley’s actions displayed no “willful or wanton disregard for public safety”. The police, in other words, claim they are powerless, for lack of evidence that Mr. Rupley did anything wrong. I looked up the laws of South Carolina, and found the legal definitions of “negligence”, “wanton”, and “manslaughter” in a legal dictionary (thefreedictionary.com
). The language used to describe these things, which I partially quote here, stands out rather compellingly:
“Conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.”
“Omission of a known obligation with reckless indifference to potential harmful consequences.”
“Failure to foresee and so allow otherwise avoidable dangers to manifest.”
“A departure from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.”
The police and prosecutor are displaying all the symptoms of “Just An Accident Syndrome,” an affliction where some in the legal system (who are motorists themselves) identify with motorists so strongly, they refuse to enforce the law against them. Thus, Mr. Rupley is excused for taking Dr. Hollon’s life, and “criminal negligence” becomes “just an accident”, with the subtext that Dr. Hollon’s violent death was the result of random chance that was beyond Mr. Rupley’s control.
This skewed perspective ignores several important truths, most notably that the AT&T utility van has brakes and a steering wheel, the roadway has lane markings, and the rules of the road obligate Mr. Rupley to use and pay attention to these things, which he clearly was not doing when he killed Dr. Hollon. Mr. Rupley’s omission of his obligations caused a motor vehicle, traveling at high speed, to veer off a clearly marked roadway, and kill a human being. If that doesn’t fit the legal definition of negligence, I can’t imagine what else does.
Scarlett A. Wilson is the Solicitor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Berkeley and Charleston Counties. The police would have consulted Wilson or a prosecutor on Wilson’s staff. I encourage everyone to contact Scarlett A. Wilson and Gregory Mullen, the Charleston Chief of Police, and remind them respectfully that Dr. Mitchell Hollon, now silenced forever, deserves a better measure of justice than a traffic ticket.
Cranks On Cam