ASHEVILLE — A driver who was caught on video footage punching a cyclist on Sand Hill Road seven months ago will serve at least three days in jail after pleading guilty to simple assault, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams announced Tuesday.
Claude Donald Watson, of Candler, was sentenced Monday to a suspended 45-day imprisonment term with service of a three-day "split sentence" in jail ordered as a condition of probation.
He also was ordered to pay a $25 fine, $320 in costs and $115 in court-appointed attorney fees. He previously paid $276 to make restitution to the victim.
If Watson fails to comply with probation, he will be ordered to serve the remainder of his sentence, according to a news release.
"The district attorney's office recognizes that under N.C. law bicycles are considered vehicles and cyclists have the legal right to travel on our roads without fear of assault and unprovoked violence as the evidence clearly showed in this case," Williams said in the release.
Watson was filmed shortly after noon Sept. 27, stopped at the intersection of Sardis Road and Sand Hill Road in front of a man on a bicycle. He's seen getting out of a Dodge Ram pickup truck and appears to punch the cyclist in the face.
The video recording was shot from the cab of a commercial vehicle that approached the scene.
The cyclist's injuries were listened in a police report as "minor," according to the release. Alcohol was not a factor in the incident. Watson was arrested two days later after the footage was reviewed by investigators.
"We decided to put this video out and promote it," Mike Sule, executive director of Asheville on Bikes, said in a statement. "We want people to share their stories so we can better understand the issues and conflicts that occur on our roads and address them."
Sule said the cyclist was riding legally in his lane of travel and that the organization is satisfied with the judgment.