San Francisco bicyclist pleads guilty to manslaughter

July 23, 2013 7:39:11 PM PDT
A bicyclist who struck and killed a 71-year-old man last year has agreed to plead guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter. San Francisco's district attorney says it's the first conviction of its kind in the country. But the cyclist won't do any time for the crime.

DA George Gascon says, as far as he knows, it's the first time in the country, that a bicyclist has been convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter. He knows there will be critics because Chris Bucherre, 37, gets no jail time, but he says through community service, this first time offender will have a chance to rehabilitate himself.

"I believe justice has been served; Mr Bucchere has been held accountable," Gascon said.

Sutchi Hui and his wife were in the crosswalk at Castro and Market streets in March 2012 when Bucchere struck and killed Hui. Police said security video taken from the Twin Peaks Tavern showed Bucherre going at a good clip, hitting Hui straight on.

Bucherre was subsequently charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. Gascon announced Tuesday that he pleaded guilty in exchange for 1,000 hours of community service and three years of probation.

Gascon says it would have been a tough case if it went to trial.

"While we have ample evidence to file this case the way that we did, we also recognized there was risk involved trying this case," he said.

Last year after the accident, ABC7 News spoke with Hui's niece Anna Chao, who now runs her uncle's travel agency. She said the family was relying on prosecutors to do the right thing.

"A person who did something wrong should also pay for it," Chao said.

Chow declined ABC7 News' request for an interview Tuesday, but Gascon says Hui's son is satisfied with the plea agreement.

"He does not believe that incarceration would have necessarily provided a good outcome for the community," Gascon said.

Gascon said the conviction sends a message to bicyclists.

"Cyclists need to understand they're held accountable to the same standards that anybody else operating any other type of vehicle and I believe we have achieved that in this case," he said.

Under the terms of the plea, after six months, the judge can reduce the felony to misdemeanor if Bucherre is doing well. He will be sentenced next month.


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