A San Jose councilmember allegedly hit a homeless biker with his car and then gave them money at a busy intersection in downtown San Jose, according to three witnesses.
Video obtained by San José Spotlight shows District 10 Councilmember Arjun Batra handing money to a man after Batra allegedly struck him with his 2022 Lexus. The incident happened at approximately 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon at the intersection of San Fernando and Fourth streets. Batra was turning left onto Fourth Street on a green light when he suddenly stopped his car, according to witnesses.
San Jose Councilmember Arjun Batra is accused of hitting a homeless bicyclist with his car — then trying to pay him off with $40. Story at sanjosespotlight.com. #news #politics #sanjose #journalism #siliconvalley #fyp #fyp
A downtown employee, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, said she witnessed the accident and later caught the money handed on video when she recognized Batra. Batra denies it, saying he did not strike the man with his car but instead had a “close call.” Batra told San José Spotlight he gave the man $40 after the biker asked him for help because he was “down on his luck and homeless.”
“It’s just false. There was no accident,” Batra told San José Spotlight. “I am not a politician and in my life, I have always tried to show compassion for others, particularly those who seem like they need a helping hand. That is what I did here.”
Ann Leyva, a security guard across the street, said she didn’t see the accident, but that she heard sounds of a collision. After hearing what sounded like a crash, Leyva checked to see who had the right of way—Batra or the biker. She said the biker crossed the street toward the library without the crosswalk light on.
“It was a loud metal on metal sound. Maybe the SUV hit the guy’s thermos (on his bike) or something,” Leyva told San José Spotlight. “The man didn’t seem injured.”
She said the driver, Batra, immediately stopped and pulled over to the side of the road on Fourth Street in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Library. The biker walked toward Batra and as the two began talking, Leyva said she saw Batra hand over something to the biker, but couldn’t make out what it was.
Another security guard, who works at a different nearby business, said he heard the screeches from Batra’s car before it stopped. He saw the biker inspect his bike before walking over to where Batra parked his car, the security guard said.
“It was little bang but not a big bang,” he said. “Then when the guy went over there and talk to the driver, the driver got out and examined the bike and (their talk) lasted about maybe five minutes and then the guy left.”
Batra denies inspecting the man’s bike. He also confirmed to San José Spotlight that he does not drink or take medications, and was not distracted while driving.
The anonymous employee who recorded the video also took a picture of the homeless man’s bike, which shows the back tire dented and deflated. She said the man was riding his bike when the collision happened. After Batra left the scene, the employee said they talked to the man and that he was shaken up, but not injured. He then wheeled his bike away because of the flat tire on the bike.
Police were not called, sources said.
Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or follow @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.