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Bad LEO encounter, need advice please

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Devonai, Jul 22, 2003.

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  1. Devonai

    Devonai Member

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    Please read the following story carefully, as the devil is in the details.

    As I have mentioned a few times in other threads, I am a plainclothes armed courier. I carry a customer's valuables to the bank so that they don't have to risk their own employees. One of our clients is a movie theatre in the greater Boston area. Late last night I arrived to collect the day's take and transport it to the night deposit.

    I stopped in the theatre's parking lot to fill out the necessary paperwork for the upcoming pickup. On my way in I'd gone a little too fast around a corner and squealed my front tires, which need to be replaced soon. I took note of an SUV parked about 200 yards away with it's lights on, isolated from the rest of the parking lot (this is a huge parking lot). I always take note of suspicious vehicles as I don't wish to be robbed.

    Before I could start to fill out my form, the SUV began to cross the parking lot and came right up to my vehicle. It was poining straight at my driver's side, and behind the lights I could make out neither the driver nor the plates. I suspected that this may be the local police officer hired to do the standard security detail at the theatre, but being unable to identify any markings, plates, or details about the driver I decided to pull away. I headed to a more brightly lit part of the lot, and was able to confirm that there were no markings on the SUV and it bore civilian plates. I exited the parking lot and it followed me. I drove down the highway for about 45 seconds, waiting to see if hidden blue lights or flashing headlights came on. They did not. At this point I had to err on the side of caution, and called my dispatcher. I asked the dispatcher to call the local police department to find out if this was indeed a cop. This exchange was going to take a few minutes, so I let the vehicle pace me while my dispatcher made the call. I make a U-turn a couple of times because I didn't want to get too far from the theatre. I had asked my dispatcher to have a local marked cruiser meet me back at the theatre and had no desire to try and describe a different location over the phone.

    Also not wanting the SUV to be able to draw along side me, I ran two red lights during the course of the "pursuit," which never exceeded 30 miles per hour (45 zone). The highway was deserted at the time, BTW.

    At last, the SUV broke away and headed back in the direction of the theatre. I waited at another location until the dispatcher confirmed that there was a local cop waiting for me back at the theatre... the one who was driving the SUV.:banghead:

    Everything that I did, besides the questionable sharp turn which was in fact the initial cause of this incident, was within the guidelines for couriers set forth by my company. When being pursued by a suspicious vehicle, you are to call dispatch for help and arrange for police to meet you nearby. You are not to stop for any reason other than, say, you just pulled into a Santa Monica street market.

    That being said, when I arrived back at the theatre, boy did I ever get read the riot act by the officer. I respect cops who act in a professional manner, but this guy was everything but professional to me. He yelled the entire time, refused to listen to a thing I had to say, and responded to what few things I said with a mixture of sarcasm and indignation. He was aware of my reason for acting as I did but regarded my explanation as "crap." I responded with calm courtesy and never said anything argumentative or confrontational. After all, there may have been a dash camera at work. Positing that I was lucky he didn't pull my license, he let me go with a stack of moving violations amounting to $150, or as I think of it, $1320 over the next three years thanks to insurance.

    I intend to fight this in court, and heres why:

    1. I could not identify the SUV as a police vehicle, and in fact it was the officer's personally owned vehicle. It was not equipped with grill-mounted blue lights, a rotary blue light, or alternately-flashing headlights, all of which I would have pulled over for (no dash cam either :mad: ).

    2. I had a reasonable belief that I was being targeted for a crime, based on the behavior of the SUV and my specific instructions from the company's courier manual.

    3. I was therefore justified in breaking those traffic laws as a means of self-defense. If I had pulled over any bad guy would have easily had the jump on me.


    I welcome criticism greatly as I need to know what I could have done better, and how to conduct myself when the court hearing comes up. Please be honest.
     
  2. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    You did fine. This cop needs to be brought under control. ASAP. File a complaint with his department. Tell the local media what happened. Make *noise*.

    This idiot acted exactly like a criminal in all respects.

    When you go to court, you need to bring your dispatch logs...or the actual dispatcher, if possible. That's proof you were evading criminal attack.
     
  3. DrPsycho

    DrPsycho Member

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    Warning: my encounters with LEO have never been pleasant, and I currently hold little respect for them. (I have been similarly harassed over a 'squeaking around a corner' incident too)

    Yeah, what Jim said - try to get a the name of the dispathcer you talked to on the phone, and copy of the audio. I assume you were alone, if possible try to get witnesses or as much evidence as possible. Remember, the cop will change his story in court, and guess who the judge will listen to?

    I had no idea LEO were able to act in that capacity in their privately owned vehicles.
     
  4. Kaxter

    Kaxter Member

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    I also had a terrible experience with a LEO. I was driving down main street as normal and saw Rail Road flashing lights and the arms were down, I came to a stop and waited. I waited some more, waited more, and after about 5 minutes and NOTHING was coming I decided to pull into the center lane and go through the crossing...well 2 minutes later I got pulled over. The cop said he saw me "FLY" through the RR crossing and speed off. I told him that I had been waiting for over 5 minutes and nothing was coming and assumed that it was a glitch in the system. I also asked him if he had seen this and he said no, and he had just turned the corner and saw me do it. I said "and you too went through the tracks, and I assume you saw no train" He said "It doesnt matter if there was a train or not, you broke the law" He gave be a Careless and Imprudent Driving ticket, a ticket for expired tags ( 1 month expired, my fault totaly, it had just slipped my mind), and a ticket for failure to obey a traffic signal. I am going to court in 3 weeks, wish me luck
     
  5. Kaxter

    Kaxter Member

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    And yes, I think you should take it to court, you did nothing wrong at all.
     
  6. Waitone

    Waitone Member

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    Go to court and bring an attorney with you.

    Without legal representation in a court you are nothing more than swinging meat.

    Seems to me you company would have a lawyer that deals in this sort of thing.
     
  7. Nathaniel Firethorn

    Nathaniel Firethorn Member

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    Given where you were and when it was, the cop prolly was undercover, and looking for something to go down. Whatever he was looking for, he thought you were it.

    I've had the similar experience of inadvertently separating a cop from a motorcade that was taking a Mafia don (no, not the governor this time ;) ) to trial. Cops don't like it when you mess them up in a high-profile way. Cost me a tounge-lashing and $130 in fines I didn't deserve. :banghead:

    So, my bet is that that's the motivation. He didn't like to screw up publicly.

    And the motivation provides the strategy. Give him the choice of rither (a) doing what you want him to do or (b) having said screw-up go a lot more public.

    I'd suggest talking to an attorney, preferably your courier company's attorney. Maybe they can suggest to the prosecutor that he wants to drop the stack of tickets. Or else there's going to be a large and very public stink, involving the bank, the bank's insurers, the courier company, and the press, that the police are harassing bank employees for doing their job.

    - pdmoderator
     
  8. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

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    You didn't follow proper response procedure. You're supposed to pull over immediately and slowly exit the vehicle keeping both cheeks where he can see them. It helps if you loosen your pants before exiting vehicle so when you get out the pants fall to your ankles, then you can walk backwards towards him to within penetration distance. Then wait for the command to 'assume the position'

    BOHICA.:banghead:
     
  9. Sarge111

    Sarge111 member

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    Counterpoint...

    I think in most states it would require a bona-fide emergency in progress to justify the fracture of the various traffic laws you described- not even counting the driving antics that drew his attention to you in the first place. Being tailed by a cop in an unmarked unit will generally not qualify as justification for disobeying traffic laws.

    Is your courier vehicle plainly marked, or registered to a courier company? If unmarked, the cop had to run the plate, which can take a few minutes- assuming DOR wasn't down as usual. He was well within his job description to stay on you until he knew what was going on. When the dispatcher advised him what was up, he obviously broke contact and went to where he could contact you without having to worry about how many little old ladies you would mow down while running red lights.

    Actually, you're lucky you weren't intercepted by uniforms and yanked out of the car at gunpoint. And as far as the dressing-down you received- what did you expect? A safe driver award? Based on what he saw, I can also understand why he wasn't terribly interested in what you had to say on the matter. You chose a course of conduct, and certain courses of conduct have predictable consequences. End of story.
     
  10. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

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    See what I mean?:rolleyes:

    No 'for the children' Sarge?
     
  11. org

    org Member

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    Where in the job description for police officers is the instruction to "administer tongue lashing"? The police officer's job is to "serve and protect." He's not your father or boss.

    Whatever happened to "Please sign here, have a nice day?" Some of these guys watch too much TV.
     
  12. Graystar

    Graystar Member

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    Maybe not, but being tailed by someone you believe to have criminal intent against you could very well be. The law does not say you have to put yourself in danger, and allow yourself to be victimized. The law is NOT above your personal well being. That's what "justification" is all about.

    I can usually see the problems that people will come across when they ask this sort of question. In my personal opinion, I think you have viable defense.

    Ideally you should have a criminal lawyer but a lawyer could cost more than the fines and insurance. A consultation with a lawyer, however, will be less...maybe even free...and should help. He may be able to point you to previous rulings in similar cases that were favorable to the defendant. That would give you precedence.

    The lawyer can also point you to the justification laws, which you should read. When you explain what you did, try to put it in the same language style as the law.

    For example, here in New York we have:

    "35.05 Justification; generally.

    ...use of physical force, conduct which would
    otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal when:

    2. Such conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an
    imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a
    situation occasioned or developed through no fault of the actor, and
    which is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of
    intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding such
    injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought
    to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue."

    Key words and phrases would be "emergency measure", "urgency", "outweigh", and others. So I would say something like "Your honor, I consider my action to be an emergency measure due to the urgency of the situation, as I felt the gravity of the situation outweighed the statutes which I violated. I believe this is so because..."

    You get the idea.

    And don't forget to raise any questionable issue during the trial. If you don't then the issue cannot be raised on appeal.

    Good luck!
     
  13. brownie0486

    brownie0486 Member

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    I just love when non-LE's put theit two cents worth in and don't have a clue as to procedure and rules of engagement, then make sattirical comments about how one should have exited the vehicle.

    If the courier had not run the red lights [ endangerment to the public ], he may have escaped with no ticket at all.

    The courier could have stopped at the red lights and waited like normal, watching the driver of the following car for signs of egress at the light before fracturing the mv laws was necessary.

    That reaction [ to running the lights ] may indicate ones nervousness without real evidence the pursuit vehicle intended to do harm. Over reaction on the couriers part me thinks here.

    The tongue lashing was unnecessary after returning to the lot, but then only cops make mistakes according to some here. Couldn;t have anything to do with the couriers actions now could it?

    It's not what people know, it's what they think they know that they react to. The courier overreacted in some ways and seems to have been diligent in following his prescribed procedures in other actions.

    Let me ask the naysayers of LE's here a question.

    Same scenario, but the courier runs the stop light and hits a family of 4 broadside killing everyone in the car. Think he should have run the lights?
    Attitudes reflected here toward LE may be somewhat different if that had occured hey boys?

    Taking every opportunity to make the police look like they are gestapo and always wrong in this section by some lends itself neither to credibility nor objectivity on the posters part but they seem to crawl from the woodwork to lament the injustices of the LE community.

    If one were objective in his responses he may be taken just a little more seriously, instead we get another round of doom and gloom over a police action that was justified, yet no comments about the couriers actions possibly being overreactive or flat out wrong.

    Way to go there sir, you have once again increased and perpetuated the us vs them attitudes so prevalent in your postings where LE are concerned with nary an objective statement anywhere in your reply.

    Garystar: He was not in imminent danger at any time, that won't hold water in court and you know it. Where was the danger? He was being followed, does the act of being followed and what MIGHT happen become endangerment? Hardly think so, that statute, though valid in other instances won't wash here. If the cop had alighted from the vehicle at one of the red lights, then he would be able to articulate he was in fear of harm, until then, he has no business violating the mv laws and endangering the public in doing so.


    Brownie
     
  14. Erik

    Erik Member

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    What Sarge said, basically.

    What Brownie0486 said re not running the lights.

    Sounds like your occupation has the potential to place you in conflict with various laws on occassion. That said, you should expect that when it does you will face the consuences, regardless of what your company thinks about it, policy wise. When you don't, be sure to post about how the cops let you slide.
     
  15. Intune

    Intune Member

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    Naw, no double standard here. Let's try this on for size, shall we? Go to your local cop shop right around shift change. Better yet, a favorite watering hole. Pick one out and begin to tail him. Watch what happens. Good luck and whatever you do DO NOT have a weapon on you of any type and do EXACTLY what they say. Your life could very well depend on it.

    As soon as you squeeled those tires you deserved everything you got. And more! You're lucky he went light on ya, CITIZEN

    :rolleyes:


    That would be a great way to rob you wouldn't it? Block you in, high beams on holding some sort of "badge."
     
  16. brownie0486

    brownie0486 Member

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    Intune:

    You think the cop would run lights endangering the general public? Didn't think so.

    If he was running red lights, he wasn't blocked in now was he? And if one knows how to drive when something looks hinky, you never leave yourself vunerable to being blocked in at lights, stop signs, etc but leave an escape route you can use should you need it.

    Even when normally driving around one woud heed that advise and not allow a blocking action by leaving a car length between yourself and the car in front of you.

    BTW--I have followed cops, thats what I do, I follow people for a living. Never see one yet run lights trying to avoid the tail. That would be breaking the law and endangering the public now wouldn't it?

    If the poster is a courier for the bank, he is presumed armed [ though he doesn't mention it ]. If armed, does he not have the means available to protect his A$$ IF the following vehicles driver got out at one of the lights while he waited for the green?

    He overreacted to the tail and broke several mv laws in the process. Is this the sign of a pro? Don't think so.

    Brownie
     
  17. bogie

    bogie Member

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    Brownie, late at night, the average intersection isn't gonna be too busy. If I were looking at a possible robbery attempt, I'd keep moving, but in a relatively safe and prudent fashion - i.e., if there's cars in the intersection, slow down, and wait until they roll the sidewalks up again... But I don't know if I'd stop my small Mitsubishi so that a possible assailant, armed with a large SUV, could disable it.
     
  18. G&R Tactical

    G&R Tactical Member

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    .
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2003
  19. brownie0486

    brownie0486 Member

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    Those facts may be true as stated, however, his perception and fear of an armed robbery [ alone, without supporting evidence ] does not give him reason to violate the laws of the road.

    As to entering an intersection late at night on a red light, saw a fireengine on the way to a car accident at 1am blow the light and kill a driver who had the green light and right of way.

    The firefighters statement was the same thing you suggested about late at night. Doesn't wash as if it can happen, it will.

    If he had killed someone by violating traffic laws on a presumption he'd be looking at more than a ticket and A$$ chewing don't you think?

    Brownie
     
  20. hops

    hops Member

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    MODS: Not sure how my post ended up under G&R Tactical. Interesting system glitch.

    Oh, I think if I were being followed by a vehicle that is not a marked police car, I'd get a wee bit paranoid too.

    About 10 years ago, a woman in a Jeep Wrangler did not turn left properly and ran her front right tire in to my car's left rear passanger door and kept going. I chased her down. She finally pulled in to a parking lot - where she worked about 3 miles down the road. I confronted her, Told her what happened, show her my car's white paint on her front right tire to prove my point. Asked her why she did not pull over, like I signaled her to do. She replied 'Because I tought you was some crazy person trying to harm me.'

    So I find it quite reasonable, when pursued by a suspciously behaving vehicle, that a reasonable person is going to think the worst and think self-preservation first.

    Take it court. A reasonable judge should rule in your favour, especially in your line of work.
     
  21. brownie0486

    brownie0486 Member

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    hops :

    If he gets that nervous at being tailed, perhaps he should find different work. He is supposedly armed and trained isn't he? He seems to have followed procedure by notifying dispatch and requesting LE presence meet him.

    There's another rub to the naysayers of LE on this board. People rag on the cops but then they are the first to call for their assistance at the same time.

    His employment may also take some of the responsibility if, as he states, their policy is to not stop for anything when he believes he is being followed. He may have been following their guidelines, but in reality the guidelines should not be suggesting they break the law under his circumstances.

    The cop did one bad thing and lost his temper and objectivity while A$$ chweing the courier. Everything else, as posted, shows no wrongdoing on the cops part.

    Call em like you see em.

    Brownie
     
  22. Intune

    Intune Member

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    brownie0486 said:

    "You think the cop would run lights endangering the general public? Didn't think so."

    No, I think a cop would bring a ton of heat down on you when he felt endangered and you would be spread-eagle on the pavement.


    "If he was running red lights, he wasn't blocked in now was he?"

    No. And the high beams weren't on and he didn't flash a badge. I said that would be a great way to rob the guy.

    "BTW--I have followed cops, thats what I do, I follow people for a living. Never see one yet run lights trying to avoid the tail."

    Do you do it stealthily or aggressively? You may be so good that they never notice you.



    "If he gets that nervous at being tailed, perhaps he should find different work.

    He is doing exactly the type of work to be nervous at a tail.


    "Those facts may be true as stated, however, his perception and fear of an armed robbery [ alone, without supporting evidence ] does not give him reason to violate the laws of the road."

    I am throwing the B.S. flag on this one. A lady and her kids are at a red light and thugs come to her window with bats & chains & she can't run the light? On what planet?


    :rolleyes:
     
  23. Devonai

    Devonai Member

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    Brownie, why are you addressing me in the third person? I started this thread, don't you think I'm going to read the responses? Speak directly to me.

    First of all, thanks to those who put in words of support. Thanks, too to those who have stated the opposing viewpoints. Your criticism is important.

    To clarify a few points, firstly those red lights that I ran I did cautiously, slowing to about 25 miles per hour. I did not want to allow the SUV to draw along side me. Again, there very few other cars on the road at that time and none visible when I went through the intersection.

    I understood the risk I was taking and I accept the consequences of my actions. I believe my behavior was justified due to the circumstances. The law is the law, but as in self defense there are exceptions. This is such a case.

    This was not intended to be a cop-bashing thread by any means. I have high respect for police officers and do not hold any ill will toward those that act prudently, in any situation. The officer in question in this case was not interested in having a dialogue about the situation, only in berating me and trying to make me feel small.

    I do regret not hesitating a moment longer during the initial encounter. If I had seen the uniform then I could have avoided this entire situation, and walked away with maybe a slap on the wrist. I do try to act like a professional, and yes, I did slip up. I am not offering any excuse for using excessive speed in the parking lot. I should have known better.

    My error does not make my later actions inappropriate. As I stated I exited the parking lot and continued down the highway with the express intent of allowing the officer to flip on his lights or wig-wags. He didn't have them, instead choosing to use aggressive and intimidating driving to try and get me to stop. Couriers from my company have been robbed over the years. One was killed during the attempt. I'm not playing games out there, and I exercised as much caution as I thought appropriate for the situation.
     
  24. CZ-75

    CZ-75 member

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    I just love how the cops ASSuME that tires squealing around the corner mean that you're going too fast. My current car could easily exceed the speed limit on most residential/surface streets while cornering and not squeal the tires. A Ford Tempo rental car I once drove would squeal tires unless coming to a near stop and then turning. Bogus.

    I also love how they ASSuME that being armed is a placebo for avoidance. A large (stolen) truck/SUV could easily disable a car and still be drivable and being stolen would mean the driver doesn't care about the paint job. Should you have to engage a perp, particularly in taxachewsh**s, you'd be under indictment and the DA would say you didn't do enough to avoid the situation.

    Exit the vehicle posterior first, please.

    I won't sit at a red light at night in a deserted area and often "run" them (after a complete stop) to avoid becoming a target. Probably safer to do at night since headlights warn of oncoming vehicles, which had there been any, would make the intersection no longer deserted. I'm armed, but also vulnerable sitting in a metal box w/ no immediate egress and less than full field of view. Guess that makes this a federal case and me a fugitive from justice. :rolleyes:
     
  25. Richardson

    Richardson Member

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    I'm not a cop. I think most cops are good public servants. There are bad and foolish men among the police.

    I have nothing but moderate criticism for all parties involved in this incident.

    Devonai, were your tires squealing because of "driving a little too fast", or because they were bald? What would an onlooker think? If you're trying to be discreet and not draw attention to yourself (from anyone - police, muggers, etc.), drive more conscientiously.

    Was the officer on duty? Was he working security for the theatre? Obviously he had a radio. I would like to know more.

    On the other hand, why would an on-duty cop be driving a car without police plates, lights, or sirens? Or did he just choose to refrain from using the lights & sirens? I think he acted inappropriately in approaching the Devonai's vehicle without identifying himself (at least with lights), as well as in tailing him through several traffic violations, without stopping Devonai. This sounds like a cop looking for a confrontation, trying to goad someone into making mistakes or commit violations. This is just wrong.

    Devonai, you didn't need to run the red lights. Unless it is a particularly high crime area or he was driving in a way that endangered you, it was wrong to run the red lights. You may have felt like this could be a threat, but you were armed and in your car, and he stayed behind you.

    I wouldn't be surprised if this officer has a history of goading people. He got pretty pissed off at getting caught tailing the courier, especially for someone who chose not to arrest the courier while going through red lights!!! His tongue lashing was totally unprofessional, but well deserved by Devonai.

    Richardson
     
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