My weekend column is about a young man named Ryan Johnson, formerly of Baltimore and pre-med studies at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the hit-and-run car crash that, for the time being, has left his dreams for a career in neurosurgery on hold. When he originally contacted me, it was to tell of the accident and register a complaint with what Johnson considered the indifferent response of a Baltimore police officer. Johnson, badly injured in the crash, felt the officer did not take seriously the duty to find and arrest the hit-and-run driver.

Among those he enlisted for help in getting the attention of police leadership was Baltimore City Councilman Ryan Dorsey, a frequent police critic who, as a bicyclist, has also experienced the kind of indifference or incompetence Johnson described in his email to us a year ago.


The driver who smashed his car into Johnson’s has been prosecuted and sentenced. I asked Dorsey for a comment about the case and he quickly related to it. “Mr. Johnson’s case unfortunately seems all too common,” he wrote. “The best way I know to relate is through my own firsthand experience. 

“In 2020 I was struck while biking by a driver who failed to yield when making a left turn. He was driving a vehicle that was not his, which was registered in Bowie, had no insurance documents available and had a Virginia license. The driver claimed he was working at an auto shop nearby and driving this car, supposedly a customer’s that he was working on, to go do a favor for a friend in the middle of the day. The responding officer, who wore a special emblem on his uniform indicating that he sometimes patrols on bike — which one might think makes an officer more cognizant of the vulnerability and rights of bicyclists — declined to take a statement from a witness, cite the driver, declare fault or even make inquiries about the vehicle or driver before sending him on his way without even getting a local address or phone number from him. In his incident report the officer misrepresented both my locations and movements and those of the driver. 

“Following up with command staff, Commissioner Harrison insisted that the report, even before being finalized by a supervisor, could not be corrected, and that the only recourse I might have would be to file an internal affairs complaint, which I did and which led nowhere.”

Johnson filed a complaint as well. “The detective from [the Public Integrity Bureau] told me they would keep me apprised of any and all updates,” he says. “To date, I’ve received no further notifications after a year.”

3 thoughts on “Two men named Ryan relate their experiences with dangerous drivers and poor police response

  1. I may have gone way too far to the right in my dotage, but these stories break my heart.

    As to the young med student who has had his life severely diminished by a drunken, barefoot, uninsured driver, a two-year sentence, which will probably mean one year of incarceration, is far too light. The stiffest sentence available should have been impose, although, since Baltimore city juries rarely convict, perhaps this very short sentence was the result of a plea bargain, and was the best the judge could be done under the circumstances.

    It does raise the larger issue of what kind of city we have with drunken, uninsured drivers, 1000+ shootings per annum, and school children packing heat as shown by the recent shooting on Light and Conway Streets and the student from Mervo taking his piece to a confrontation with the police lieutenant’s spouse.

    What kind of world and what kind of city is this ?

    Is it any wonder that our urban areas are losing population and cities in the south are growing? .. and will my beloved Orioles follow them South?


  2. Dan: today in the space of one hour we experienced being cut off while carefully backing out of parking spaces by drivers rushing to acquire parking spaces next to ours. One was in very close quarters on the tiny parking lot at the Ashland Cafe. I am very concerned with the recklessness of drivers today. It felt as if our Chevy Impala was invisible.


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