Attorney Says Alleged Bay Riders Bikers Charged in Stabbing Are Not Gang Members

Categories: Crime, Law & Order
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What charges are you facing? Whaddya got?
The attorney for one of the three alleged Bay Riders motorcycle gang members charged in a December stabbing says his client is not a Riders member, that the Riders are not a gang, and denies any gang element to the alleged stabbing. The three defendants are due for a hearing in Superior Court Friday morning, during which the prosecution will be motioning to add attempted murder charges against one of the three  -- all of who are facing potentially enhanced criminal penalties because of the alleged gang connection.

"It's ludicrous the fact that they're making it a gang allegation," said San Francisco attorney Joe Sullivan. "It's two groups of guys yelling at each other. The fight was not occasioned by colors ... [The prosecution is] just going to be crushed if they go forward on a gang theory."
  
Sullivan says his client, Heinrich Dorsch, is innocent of the assault charge as well. In the wee hours of Dec. 18 when Dorsch was arrested, the lawyer says the 23-year-old had one arm in a cast after being hit on his motorcycle by a drunk driver some months ago in San Francisco. The other arm was "un-usable" because of skin grafts. Dorsch also had a plate in his head from suffering brain injury after the accident, added the lawyer.

Both Sullivan and the police agree that the Bay Riders are affiliated with the Hells Angels. Gang Task Force officer Dan Silver told SF Weekly he believes the Riders provide security for Angels events. Read our original story on the Bay Riders here.

Sullivan claims that the fact that Jonathan O'Keefe, another one of the men charged in the stabbing, was wearing a Bay Riders jacket at the time of the assault doesn't justify gang charges. "The victims never even mentioned it," Sullivan said. "It didn't trigger anything. It's just crap. He could have been wearing a 49ers jersey."

Silver says the argument didn't have to be about gang issues for it to be a gang-related crime. "If you're wearing a Bay Riders jacket and assaulting people in a jacket, it benefits the gang," Silver said. "It makes it look more intimidating to the community. It tends to elevate the individual members' status in gang culture."
 
Silver says that Dorsch and O'Keefe are Bay Riders, but the third man, Angel Johansen, is not -- though all three face gang enhancements. "He's not a member that I know," Silver said of Johansen. "What his association is with that scene remains to be seen."

Sullivan claims that "the only nexus with any gang allegations" is the fact that Silver spotted Hell's Angels and Bay Riders talking with Sullivan at a bail bond office across from the Hall of Justice the morning after the arrests. Sullivan said the motorcyclists had come to bail out the three men, but they couldn't because the charges were still unknown. 

Silver denied this theory. "That happening on the street afterward, it shows how gangs operate and how the motorcycle outlaw community associates, and looks out for its members," he says. "But that doesn't have bearing on the [gang] charge at the time of the arrest and booking."

It looks like this debate is just revving up, so to speak.

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