Last week, a teenager sent six bicyclists to the hospital after hitting them with his truck while attempting to roll coal. As of today, the sixteen-year-old driver still hasn’t been charged, but a new step taken by the local district attorney may help push the case along.
For those of you just joining us, “rolling coal” is the act of intentionally spewing soot from an illegally-modified diesel vehicle. It’s often done specifically to choke bicyclists, pedestrians, or drivers of any vehicle deemed “lesser” by the testosterone-addled, infantile roller. Normally the process leaves victims with watering, stinging eyes and a sore, scratchy throat (ask me how I know), but one Texas teenager decided to up the ante by adding broken spines and traumatic brain injuries into the mix.
Now, that teenager (whose identity was not released due to his age) will have to contend with more than just the local Waller Police Department. The District Attorney for Waller County, who has called coal rolling “AT A MINIMUM an assault” has assigned a special prosecutor with a background in vehicular homicide to investigate the case.
The special prosecutor, Warren Diepraam, is an “expert in prosecuting vehicular homicides” and has been recognized by the NHTSA for “innovation” in prosecution. That innovation seems to consistently result in harsher penalties for offenders:
Diepraam was recognized for his innovation, including prosecuting habitual drunk drivers for felony murder, rather than intoxication manslaughter, when they kill someone while committing a felony DWI, as well as his office’s “no refusal” program. That’s when peace officers, prosecutors, and judges team up to execute search warrants for blood samples when drivers suspected of intoxication refuse to provide breath samples.
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If the Waller County District Attorney wants this coal-rolling teenager punished, it would appear he’s found the right man for the job. However, after Diepraam’s role in the Sandra Bland case, some are concerned about possible deference towards the police’s take on the situation. A Facebook post from the DA’s office clarifying the separation between the City of Waller Police Department and the Waller County District Attorney’s Office seems to be a preemptive strike against that line of thought, but Diepraam’s actions in the course of this case will speak louder than those words.
With a special prosecutor assigned to the case, it’s unlikely any stone will go unturned in the search for evidence. With a grand jury looming later this fall, the Waller County DA has the opportunity to send a message — bicyclists are human beings, and those who antagonize them will be met with swift consequences.