Despite the allegations against him in the Aurora Theater Shooting, accused killer James Holmes has plenty of defenders, including members of the James Holmes Is Innocent Facebook page and so-called Holmies fan groups. Now, an editor at the Washington Times is also saying Holmes was railroaded -- but only when it comes to running a red light before the attack.
As noted by Mediaite, Richard Diamond, a senior opinion editor for the conservative Washington paper, runs a sideline blog called The Newspaper.com, which describes itself as a "journal on the politics of driving." This week, Diamond noted that Holmes "had been flashed by a red light camera headed in the direction of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater just ten days before the attack" -- so soon before the July 20 massacre that "Holmes was in custody before the ticket was mailed, and it is not known whether he ever saw the tell-tale flash in his rear-view mirror."
Here's a larger look at a photo shared by Diamond of Holmes running the light while turning left from East Mississippi Avenue onto South Abilene Street:
For Diamond, though, the most important fact about the ticket appears to be the length of the yellow light. He writes:
As can be seen from the video of the violation taken by Xerox (formerly Affiliated Computer Services), Holmes was just a few feet from the crosswalk when the light changed from yellow to red and the camera flashed. The yellow warning signal lasted just 2.9 seconds -- below the federal minimum requirement established by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
"MUTCD (Section 4D.10) provides guidance regarding the duration of yellow change interval," FHWA's 2009 issue brief on Engineering Countermeasures to Reduce Red-Light Running explained. "It indicates that the duration of the yellow change interval should be approximately 3 to 6 seconds, with longer intervals reserved for high-speed approaches. The MUTCD does not provide guidance regarding the calculation of clearance interval durations other than to provide ranges of acceptable values... Using a yellow change interval length less than 3 seconds may violate driver expectancy and result in frequent entry on red indications. If the interval is too short, rear-end crashes may result."
As Mediaite points out, Diamond's defense of Holmes's driving, and his castigation of the short (by a tenth of a second) yellow, is offered without apparent irony. On July 20, in other words, Holmes became an international pariah -- but a week and a half earlier, he was just another victim of bad traffic-law enforcement.
Here's the video of Holmes running the light.
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More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes inspires Holmies fan groups: Real phenomenon or media overreaction?"