The driver who struck and killed cyclist Tito Bradshaw while driving drunk in 2019 will spend 20 nights in jail, 100 days under house arrest, and 10 years on probation, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
Bexar County District Judge Laura Parker handed down the sentence as part of defendant Linda Collier Mason’s plea agreement in which she pleaded guilty to a charge of intoxication manslaughter. Mason, 70, apologized to Bradshaw’s family for her actions.
“I let society down,” Mason said, reading a prepared statement. “I want to let the family of Mr. Bradshaw know that I am truly sorry for the pain that my actions have caused them.”
She also will pay a $2,000 fine in the death of 35-year-old Bradshaw, an avid cyclist and advocate for the cycling community. He was riding his bike on the 1900 block of East Houston Street in the early hours of April 1, 2019, when Mason struck him with her vehicle.
Through tears and often raised voices, Bradshaw’s family said in court that her punishment was not enough.
“We didn’t get the type of punishment that we thought [Mason was] going to get,” father Harry Bradshaw told reporters after the sentencing. He believes that the district attorney’s office opted for a plea bargain over a jury trial because of Mason’s gender and age.
“My family and I take solace in the fact that you will answer to God for your sins,” he told Mason in court.
“I think today was the day that we could have started the accountability for drunk drivers that kill,” said Bernice Bradshaw, the victim’s mother. “We should let them know that they cannot kill people and walk away with a slap on the wrist.”
Patrick Hancock, Mason’s attorney, had requested that Mason spend no time in jail because she provides child care for a grandchild with special needs. He said that both Tito Bradshaw and his client had alcohol in their systems at the time of the incident.
“Rather than go to court and fight about who caused the accident, [Mason] accepted that she had drank over the limit and was a part of this accident and decided to accept the probation,” he said.
“[Mason] has not had a drop of alcohol since” the deadly crash and “has no inclination to have a drop of alcohol in the future. It certainly would be a violation of probation if she did and she understands that,” Hancock told the judge.
It was unclear when Mason would begin house arrest or serve her jail time as she is waiting to receive a coronavirus booster vaccine, Hancock told reporters. “I think that the judge took into consideration her age.”
After Mason’s sentence was read by Parker in the 379th District Court and Mason read her apology, Tito Bradshaw’s mother, two sisters, and father read their victim statements.
Tito Bradshaw was co-owner of Bottom Bracket Social Club, a bar and bike shop that closed in 2018, and worked at several local restaurants and bars. His son, Valentino, is now 7 years old.
“You took away my brother’s ability to be there for my nephew, Valentino,” Tito’s sister, Jennifer Dinger, told Mason in court. “There’s no closure for me. I want you to understand that I hate you, Linda Mason. … I definitely don’t forgive you. I don’t think I ever will.”
Parker told the victim’s family that “there are limits to the types of justice” that the criminal justice system can provide. “This in no way is meant to diminish what happened.”
Members of the cycling community have closely watched the case because Bradshaw was so well-known among them. A small bike, painted white, still hangs from an old utility pole in an empty lot near the crash site on the near East Side. In the more than two years since his death, it has served as a memorial site and a reminder of his advocacy for the cycling community.
The University of Texas at San Antonio has dedicated a bike trail and repair shop in Bradshaw’s honor and the Live to Ride fund was established through the San Antonio Area Foundation to raise money for bike safety awareness and to improve bike infrastructure throughout the city.
Neither cyclists nor vehicle drivers should be drunk on the road, Harry Bradshaw told reporters.
But motor vehicles are bigger and more dangerous, he said. “The person on the bicycle sometimes may be trying to do the right thing, just to enjoy themselves in the San Antonio area and go home, which Tito was trying to do. And that didn’t give anybody the right to kill him.”
He hopes that his son’s story can be used to spread awareness about the dangers of drunk driving.
Meanwhile, a separate 2019 case of drunk driving involving the death of a cyclist is slated to go to trial later this year.
Melissa Peoples, currently free on bond, is charged with intoxication manslaughter in the death of 58-year-old Dr. Naji Kayruz. Kayruz was killed while riding in the bike lane of an Interstate 10 access road.