Families Protest at Sentencing of Hit and Run Killer in Clackamas, OR

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Yesterday, families and friends of hit and run bicycle accident victims gathered outside the Clackamas County Courthouse to hear speeches and offer support while the sentencing of Michael Vu’s killer, Artyom Pavlenko, took place inside. Included among the speakers at the rally was Joshua Shulman, of Shulman DuBois LLC.

Joshua Shulman, of Shulman DuBois LLC, speaking to the press outside the Clackamas County Courthouse.

The punishment for hit and run has to be at least as severe as it would be for drunk driving. You have to assume the worst, so I’m here to advocate for harsher penalties for hit and run.

Yesterday, families and friends of hit and run bicycle accident victims gathered outside the Clackamas County Courthouse to hear speeches and offer support while the sentencing of Michael Vu’s killer, Artyom Pavlenko, took place inside.

According to the story on KGW Portland, Pavlenko only received 18 months of jail time (Clackamas County Circuit Court, Case no. CR1101292), which outraged his family and has caused a lot of local discussion of Oregon penalties for hit and run drivers.

The rally involved several well-known advocates for bicycle hit and run victims, including the Vu family, the family of Washington hit and run victim Dustin Finney, and Portland injury attorney Joshua Shulman.

Shown in video footage, Finney’s mother, Kristi Finney, was one of the speakers. “My son was killed by a drunk driver, but we're here about hit and runs today. Because it's a kind of invisible epidemic that's happening, that people who are not aware of the specific and particular impact a hit and run has on these families – and this has to stop. We're hearing about it more and more, and hit and runs have got to stop,” Finney said. Finney has become a local advocate against drunk driving and hit and runs, according to this story on Bikeportland.org.

In addition to Kristi,Portland accident lawyer Shulman spoke at the rally. According to the introduction given by Vu family friend, Deborah Petroff, Shulman’s firm, Shulman DuBois LLC, is one of the foremost hit and run accident firms in Portland: “He [Joshua Shulman] and his firm are dedicated to making sure that victims and their families receive justice.”

Shulman acknowledged that even though hit and run accidents are not necessarily drunk driving accidents, the two are closely related – and therefore the punishments should be similar:

“One of the things that's often left unsaid is that if someone hits and runs, and then comes back in and turns himself in the next day, often they were drunk. And now they've escaped a DUI charge. The punishment for hit and run has to be at least as severe as it would be for drunk driving,” said Shulman. “You have to assume the worst if they leave and come back, so I’m here to advocate for harsher penalties for hit and run.”

After the rally, according to news reports, the rally moved to the steps of the courthouse to hear the sentencing. Court records show that Artyom Pavlenko was sentenced to 18 months in jail, with 3 years probation, and 5 years without a license. Despite this, the Vu family and supporters feel the sentence is not commensurate with the crime:

“You left Mikey to die at the side of the road that night and went home to your bed," said Garland Smith, Vu's uncle, addressing Artyon Pavlenko. "We will miss Mikey every day for the rest of our lives. He was such a joy. Like a thief in the night, you robbed us of Mikey's presence." Smith spoke to the media on the Clackamas Courthouse steps.

Hit and run injury accidents are a growing epidemic, as shown by national statistics. The Portland Tribune reported that Portland police take over 6,000 hit and run calls each year, and less than half of these cases are ever solved.

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