Friday, August 29, 2014

The Law Fought Me and I Won.

Almost 25 years ago I got pulled over on some BS moving violation - might have been doing 85 in a 25 (kidding!) - and at the hearing the cop lied and I blurted out, "He's lying!" The judge declared that I had an attitude problem and ordered me to, no kidding, Traffic Attitude Class. If I completed however many weeks of it, I'd have the ticket dropped and no points. Decent deal.

Problem is that it made me a marked man in my suburban Detroit town. The fuzz was so obvious about tailing me that it was impossible to overlook; when cop almost flips their car busting a U-turn to get behind you, you know you're popular. I'd heard from my girlfriend who worked at a donut shop that the cops from two towns would get together and trade target lists. Nice. Seig heil, herr officer!!!!

Anyhoo, one night I'm driving through the expensive part of town, noted for its winding boulevard road that used to be an open creek back in the day. I'd just left from a stop sign at a part where the road took a tricky jog when I see in my rear view mirror a cop car BLAZING up behind me with the lights flashing like he's in a hurry. I pull over to let him pass, but, oh WTF?, he was coming for me.

Cop walks up and orders me to cut my engine off and give him the keys. (Think there might have been some civil rights abuse there.) He asks for my papers and goes back to his car without telling me what he pulled me over for. My girlfriend and I are sitting there waiting when he comes back with the ticket. "You were driving pretty fast back there and I could've cited you for reckless driving, but BECAUSE YOU HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE, I only wrote you up for careless driving which carries half as many points. If you wish to pay or contest blah-blah-woof-woof...." and off he goes. Gee, can you say "frame job"? I knew you could. I go to start my car and....

The son of a bitch had my keys.

Remember, this is 1990 or so and civilians (read: po' folks) didn't have cell phones, so I was facing having a bit of a walk to a pay phone to call for a ride. Fortunately, I had a spare key in my hip pack and I was back in motion, heading for the police station. I go to the desk officer and explain what had happened. Someone called the screw on the radio and I heard him say incredulously, "He's already there?" (Yeah, Bub. I'm here.) He said he'd be there shortly and showed up perhaps 20 minutes later, a neat trick in a town only 12 sq. miles in size, no more than 4 miles from any border to another.

He saunters up to me and asks, "Did you have a spare set of keys?" How about an apology, Oedipussy? Nothing. Time to get to work....

I went to the city engineer's office and got an aerial blueprint of the stretch of road I was on and put it on poster board. I drove the path of the road and took photos showing the sightlines, or more appropriately, lack of sightlines to see from point to point due to the sweeping curves in the road. It was very slick.

Court date comes and my girlfriend and I go together since she was a witness. Cop goes first and tells a story about UFOs and pink elephants and....well, for all the lying he was doing, he may as well have. The capper was when he shared this fantasy with the judge, "When I approached the car, the defendant immediately became verbally abusive." My g/f and I nearly broke our necks and dislocated our jaws whipping to face each other in disbelief at this whopper. The judge - a different one from before and rather old - had to have noticed that we were flabbergasted by this fabrication.

When it came to be my turn, I calmly denied any belligerence (what does my manner have to do with the alleged infraction anyway?), explained with my exhibit how it was impossible for the officer to have seen what he claims to have seen, and told about the keys being taken. The judge, clearly to save face for the hapless flatfoot, said, "While I suspect that you may have been driving in excess of the posted residential speed limit, I don't believe that you engaged in careless driving, so I'm going to dismiss this citation."

One of two things could've happened after this crushing smackdown: The cops could've really stepped up the jihad or they could find some real criminals to harass. Fortunately, they chose the latter option and the heat went away totally. I don't think I've gotten another ticket here since and the last time I got stopped, it was for a totally legit reason - I'd double-parked to drop some stuff off and the cop was cool as ice to me, nicely suggesting that I not do that again.

The baffling thing about the whole incident is that the cops could've ganked me at any time for any made-up charge. Plenty of places to make up a 5-over ticket and screw my "no tickets before you see the judge again" order; they followed me enough. Instead, this moron safety patrol boy with a gun and the color of law dummies up the worst load of malarkey possible, probably on the presumption that what could a 23-year-old traffic offender possibly do to exonerate himself?


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