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Viral video of cyclist’s killing sparks outrage, attacks on RJ

Updated September 19, 2023 - 10:10 pm

A video showing two apparent teenagers intentionally driving into a retired police chief riding his bicycle in Las Vegas went viral over the weekend, sparking outrage among viewers at the callousness of the act. The victim, Andreas Probst, was left on the side of the road, which the perpetrators also recorded. He later died.

The Review-Journal’s coverage of the incident was also heavily criticized by readers who posted screenshots of a news obituary that ran in the Review-Journal on Aug. 18 — more than a week before the video surfaced — with a headline describing the incident as a “bike crash” and not an intentional killing.

In fact, a source had contacted the Review-Journal about the existence of the video more than two weeks ago, and a reporter had instructed the caller on how to forward the video to Metropolitan Police Department detectives investigating the case. Seven hours later, police announced that the incident had been deemed a homicide.

The Review-Journal has published multiple stories about the incident:

  • On Aug. 14, the Review-Journal covered the initial incident, reporting that a bicyclist died at University Medical Center hours after being struck that morning. Police said the hit-and-run suspect was speeding in a stolen vehicle who had been fleeing another crash.
  • On Aug. 18, the Review-Journal spoke to Probst’s widow and daughter, who shared their remembrances of him. The story identified Probst, 64, as a former Bell, California police chief who had moved to Las Vegas after retiring in 2009.
  • On Aug. 31, the Review-Journal published a story about Metro learning about the video and determining that the hit-and-run was an intentional homicide. Police did not identify the suspect by name because of his age.
  • On Sept. 7, the Review-Journal published another story about a vigil for Probst. The vigil drew about 100 people to the intersection of Tenaya Way and Centennial Parkway, where Probst was hit. The vigil was organized by Ghost Bikes Las Vegas, which advocates for the safety of bikers and vulnerable road users.

As the online firestorm evolved on Saturday, editors at the Review-Journal changed the headline of the article, removing the phrase “bike crash” and replacing it with “hit-and-run,” hoping the change would calm the online vitriol. At the time of the story’s initial publication and in the weeks that followed, the original headline had caused no public concerns.

The social media uproar was triggered in part by posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, by several prominent commenters including X owner Elon Musk and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer, among others.

A slew of disparaging, menacing, and expletive-laden comments have been directed at the Review-Journal and its staffers, including staff writer Sabrina Schnur, who wrote the Aug. 18 news obituary.

“The social media outrage machine has never had it so wrong,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said Sunday. “Sabrina Schnur and the Review-Journal are the target of vicious cyber harassment because a prodded digital audience never noticed the story that infuriated them was published almost a month ago, before new facts ever came to light.

“Sabrina is a hero,” Cook said. “Not only has she led coverage of this important story, she connected a source who had access to the now-viral video to law enforcement. The murder charge against the suspect in Mr. Probst’s killing followed quickly thereafter.”

Sources told the Review-Journal a video of the crash was AirDropped around Arbor View High School on Aug. 29, showing two teenagers intentionally striking a bicyclist before driving off. The Review-Journal reporter advised a source to send the video to police and prosecutors.

The video itself is disturbing. In it, the two males are heard laughing in the car as they approach Probst. “Ready?” one of the males says. “Hit his a—,” the other one says. The car then rams into Probst from behind and sends him flying over the top of the car. As the car continues driving, the video, taken from a cellphone, then shows Probst on the ground.

On Aug. 31, the Metropolitan Police Department wrote in a statement that they became aware of the video on Aug. 29, and the 17-year-old’s charges had been upgraded to murder.

The driver’s name still had not been released by police as of Sunday, and the other person in the car had not been arrested.

“LVMPD is actively working to identify the passenger in the car,” a Metro spokesperson said Sunday.

This story has been updated to correct the window of time before police announced Probst’s death a homicide.

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