Miami Beach vigilante biker gets driver charged with felony assault

Ken Bereski is the Howard Beale of Miami cyclists. The slim IT consultant was mad as hell about nearly getting killed time and again, so he decided to take revenge by strapping digital cameras to his red Raleigh.

In April, he got results: Prosecutors used film from Bereski's bike cams to charge a driver with felony assault for allegedly trying to run him off the road. Unfortunately for Bereski — and Magic City cyclists — a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge decided the film wasn't enough and tossed the case Monday. "This is a negative blow to road safety in Miami," Bereski laments. "The message from this judge is that people can run over cyclists and no one gives a shit."

Bereski's Zapruder moment came in early April when he was cycling south on Alton Road. Video shot from just above his back tire shows a black SUV cruise inches away from his bike before squealing around and honking.

At the next stoplight, Bereski asks the driver to be more careful. The man leaps from his SUV. Bereski says the motorist berated him in Spanish and balled up his fists before getting back in his gas-guzzler.

A little over a minute into the video, the SUV again passes Bereski. This time, the cyclist says, the driver swerved into him and nearly sent him flying. "There's no doubt in my mind this was an intentional act of assault," Bereski says.

At the next light, the cyclist flagged down a cop. At first, the officer told Bereski there wasn't much he could do — until the cameras were mentioned. "I actually saw his eyes light up," he says.

After running the SUV's tag, police found that the driver, 41-year-old Ernesto Alvarez Perez, was out on bond on a felony check-forgery charge. They arrested him and charged him with aggravated assault.

But Judge Jorge Cueto told prosecutors the tape doesn't show an assault. "[Cueto] said the incident was my fault for not riding far enough to the right," Bereski says. "Essentially, he's telling me to ride in the parking lane... which is illegal."

On Monday, prosecutors dropped the charge. (The check-forging charges were dropped last month.) The driver's attorney didn't return a call to comment about the case.

Bereski says he's disappointed, but he won't stop filming while he bikes. "I told prosecutors that I didn't want to send anyone to jail," he says. "I just want to make the roads safer."

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink