Law enforcement agencies, attorney general involved in case of bicyclist who accosted group on Capital Crescent Trail
Police have cleared Bethesda man who Twitter users suspected was the bicyclist
Maryland-National Capital Park Police said Thursday that they are trying to find a bicyclist who was seen in a video accosting a group on the Capital Crescent Trail.
Screenshot from video
Multiple law enforcement agencies in Maryland, including the state’s attorney general, are involved in the case of a bicyclist who was seen in a video accosting a group of young people on the Capital Crescent Trail.
The young people were putting up flyers about the death of George Floyd, the black man who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis pinned him to the ground with his knee for several minutes.
A version of the video, circulating widely on Twitter on Thursday night, shows the man trying to wrestle something from the hand of a young woman. Another young woman screams at him to leave the other young woman alone and tries to intervene.
The bicyclist then picks up a bicycle and quickly rushes at a young man filming the encounter. The young man filming starts moving away and appears to fall as the focus of the camera switches to the ground.
They were putting up signs to commemorate the death of George Floyd. He wasn’t having it. pic.twitter.com/eukrXrxoLN
— Victor Stoddard (@VicStoddard) June 4, 2020
Twitter users on Thursday night wrote they thought the bicyclist’s profile matched with a photo of Peter Weinberg, according to an app called Strava, which tracks cycling and other types of exercise using GPS data.
On Friday, Weinberg, who lives in Bethesda, wrote on Twitter that he was not the bicyclist in the video and sent a report from Maryland-National Capital Park police to Bethesda Beat stating that he was not a suspect in the case.
Weinberg, who is the senior director of marketing at ProShares, a Bethesda-based investment firm, posted the following message on his LinkedIn page and on Twitter: “I recently learned I have been misidentified in connection with a deeply disturbing attack. Please know this was not me. I have been in touch with the authorities and will continue to help any way possible.”
Park police said Thursday that they are trying to find the bicyclist and have asked for the public’s help.
In a press release, park police said that around 12:45 p.m. on Monday, three “young adults,” including one male and two females, were walking near the Dalecarlia Tunnel near the Brookmont area. The press release said a bicyclist started arguing with the three people, who were posting flyers.
Police asked anyone with information about the case to call Detective Lopez at 301-929-2774 and to refer to case number 20001297.
Later on Thursday, Maryland State Police, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office all announced they were looking into the case too.
Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s office, wrote in an email Friday morning that they are “working closely with our law enforcement partners to keep the public safe from harm but at this time we cannot disclose any details.”
Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office, wrote in an email on Friday that Frosh lives in the area and often bikes on the Capital Crescent Trail.
“This was a horrible attack that should be investigated to ensure the person is held accountable,” she wrote.
Coombs added that Park Police are taking the lead in the investigation.
A Park Police spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday.
As the 34-second clip was retweeted over and over, the number of views of that clip shot up. It was increasing by millions within a few hours; it was well past 20.7 million as of 11:25 a.m. on Friday
A flood of Twitter users expressed their anger at the bicyclist and used clues from the video to try to identify him.
In an interview with NBC 4, the young man who videotaped the encounter, said the bicyclist grabbed his bike, ran it into him and pinned him to the ground.
NBC 4 reported that the young man was part of a project in which people post “flyers in affluent neighborhoods to bring attention to racial injustice.”
The news segment flashed to a sign reading “A man was lynched by the police. What are you doing about it”?
The young man told NBC 4 that the bicyclist — who was wearing a helmet, cycling shorts and sunglasses — swore at him, accused the group of inciting riots and called them “deviants.”
Floyd’s death has sparked numerous protests in cities across the country, including several in Montgomery County.
A 16-second version of the Capital Crescent Trail video was posted in the online community Reddit on Monday. The person who posted it wrote that two friends who were also there did not want the full version posted.
However, by Thursday, a 34-second version also was posted in Reddit and was circulating widely.
The longer clip starts with the bicyclist turning to walk away from one young woman as he focuses on the other and walks toward her. The first young woman yells, “Do not touch her! Do not touch her!” as a male voice says, “Leave her alone.”
As the man gets close to the second young woman, the first young woman screams, “She has nothing! Do not touch her, sir!” The male tells the man, “Walk away.”
The bicyclist confronts the other young woman and tries to grab something in her hands, forcefully using both of his hands on her. The first young woman jumps in, pushes the bicyclist’s arm and screams, “Get off of her!” The bicyclist takes a few steps back.
Within seconds, he grabs a bicycle and comes rushing at the young man who is filming. Shortly after that, the young man was on the ground and the camera was aimed at the ground. As the clip ends, there was one last exchange, with a male voice demanding, “Give me the f—— tape.”