Contra Costa County prosecutors this week declined to pursue criminal charges against the driver of the vehicle that struck cyclist Greg Knapp, a prominent NFL assistant coach who died at a local hospital five days after the collision in San Ramon in July.
San Ramon police, who first confirmed the no-filing decision by the county District Attorney's Office to DanvilleSanRamon.com on Thursday, concluded that the primary cause of the collision was inattention by the unnamed driver on Dougherty Road that summer afternoon, but prosecutors determined the actions did not rise to the level of criminal culpability under the law.
"The San Ramon Police Department's investigation has concluded and it was submitted for review. We received official word from the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office that they will not be filing criminal charges on the driver involved in the collision," San Ramon police Lt. Tami Williams said on Thursday afternoon.
The DA's office followed up with a public statement late Friday morning, as news of its decision began to grab headlines nationally with news and sports media tracking the case that involved a well-respected football coach with deep personal and professional ties to the Bay Area.
"Bicycle fatalities are devastating events. Following thorough review of the investigation, the Office of the District Attorney has determined that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the requisite standard of criminal negligence on the part of the suspect driver. The dangers of distracted driving are well known; to truly promote road safety, motorists need to be attentive drivers as well," the DA's office said.
Knapp, a 58-year-old married father of three daughters and longtime NFL offensive coach set to begin his first season as passing game specialist for the New York Jets, was riding his bicycle on Dougherty Road in eastern San Ramon just north of North Monarch Road around 2:50 p.m. July 17 when his bicycle was struck by a vehicle traveling in the same northbound direction.
The story of Knapp's death became an emotional rallying point for cycling groups and bicycle safety advocates in the Bay Area and across the country -- as has Thursday's news of the DA's office decision not to file criminal charges.
The final police report, which was completed earlier this month, confirmed the initial indication at the scene that Knapp was fully within the designated bike lane when the vehicle struck him, according to Williams.
Knapp, who was wearing a helmet, was riding northbound on a stretch of Dougherty Road with three driving lanes and a marked bicycle lane in his direction, not far after the traffic signal intersection at North Monarch Road.
The reason that the vehicle, which was traveling in the right-most driving lane, drifted into the bike lane was ultimately attributed to driver inattention, according to Williams. It was not immediately reported if police reached a conclusion as to why the driver was distracted.
The investigation and toxicology testing ruled out drug or alcohol impairment, and police previously indicated they would examine cellphone records for evidence of potential distraction. Police had reported that the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.
The San Ramon police investigation was finalized shortly after receipt of the toxicology report, and the case was then forwarded to the DA's office for review and determination of whether to pursue criminal charges. Williams said police were informed of the no-filing decision via letter dated Monday.
The name of the driver, a 22-year-old man from Danville, has not been revealed publicly to date.
"The driver's identity will not be released as a matter of privacy as he is not being criminally charged," Williams said, citing California Vehicle Code sections 16004 and 20012 for the department's policy to keep the name confidential at this point.
Knapp, whose family maintained an offseason home in neighboring Danville, worked for seven teams during his 26-year career as an NFL assistant coach.
He began with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995, rising through the ranks to be their offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003. He also served as offensive coordinator on two separate occasions for the then-Oakland Raiders, and he won a Super Bowl ring as quarterbacks coach for the 2015 Denver Broncos.