A viral video begins with California cops berated, just for doing their jobs, by an angry man at a DUI checkpoint because the officers arrested his spouse and were about to send his only means of transportation to the impound lot.
Sole registration of the vehicle was in her name, and the man wanted the car released to him.
City of Gardena Police said that they could only release it to the named registered owner.
No if, ands, or buts.
A look at California law revealed, however, the exasperated citizen was right.
Officer Jackson of the Gardena Police – while unfamiliar with the particulars of his state of California property law – turned out to be pretty nice guy to the man after he went off on him.
The Gardena police officer demonstrated both de-escalation skills and compassion in performing his public duties.
“C’mon, man. C’mon dude. I’m her husband. The car is mine. It’s both of ours.”
Officer Jackson responded, “it’s not in your name, boss.”
The man loses his cool with officer Jackson, “man, you guys are going to give me pissed off right now. I don’t give a fuck about going to jail.”
Officer Jackson remained cool and said, “you don’t have to get upset man. I’m just telling you the truth.”
“Why can’t I get my shit, dude? My car . . . it’s got all these damn pictures I took with my kids.”
“But your name is not on the car, sir.”
“My wife’s in fucking jail, man, fuck you dude!”
“Man, you’re a fucking piece of shit.”
“How are you going to do that to me? I’m the fucking husband.”
“At this point I’m going to ask you to walk away, sir.”
“Because I asked you.”
“Why in the fuck can’t you help me get my car back? Man, fuck you, you fucking punk, you fucking pig,” the man told officer Jackson as he walked away.
Zebra then chimed in, “if you keep cussing at them, that’s not going to help.”
The man went over to Zebra and explained his wife is the registered owner and she was in jail.
Zebra went to speak with police and an officer told him, “he’s got ticket after ticket after ticket for driving without a license, but I understand his situation, you know.”
“So you’re going to hook him up with another ticket,” Zebra cannily replied.
Zebra offered to take the car and then give it to the man around the corner. But police said that was also against the law.
Which is likely just another common case of mistaken bacon.
After brainstorming for a solution, police came up with the idea that the man could return with a licensed driver.
However, we do commend the cops on-duty that night for not overreacting or enforcing laws that have no bearing to bolster traffic safety or to help anyone other than generating revenue for the state.
Luckily, activist and citizen journalist, Tom Zebra who writes the website Mistaken Bacon was there to CopWatch the entire encounter
The man belligerently, but correctly, counter-argued that he had a right to the vehicle.
Not only is he married to the registered owner, but it was the only car he and his family had.
California VC 14607.6 states that :
(2) If there is a community property interest in the vehicle impounded pursuant to subdivision (c), owned at the time of impoundment by a person other than the driver, and the vehicle is the only vehicle available to the driver’s immediate family that may be operated with a class C driver’s license, the vehicle shall be released to a registered owner or to the community property interest owner upon compliance with all of the following requirements:
(A) The registered owner or the community property interest owner requests release of the vehicle and the owner of the community property interest submits proof of that interest.
The California cops relented, then found a more reasonable legal justification for not releasing his vehicle; the man’s drivers license was suspended at that point and many other times in the past.
That’s when Officer Jackson ended up getting an earful of profanity, from the stressed out citizen who just wanted his car back, and clearly was staggering under the weight of a thousand paper cuts to his wallet, his driving record was laden with driving with suspended license tickets.
Usually, verbal defiance can be a ticket to jail or a beating or both.
You may even get a police baton or taser pulled on you.
And today’s police are all to quick to resort to the type of counter-belligerence that leads to escalation of issues like this into more serious ones.
But Zebra’s camera apparently brought calm to the situation.
Another ticket for a driving without a license would have just put the man back into the revolving door of never ending surcharges that LA Times reports, “are now so expensive that people are increasingly not paying them even though the alternative is the loss of a driver’s license or jail.”
Constitutional practices demand that fines be means tested, to avoid debtors prison, and to grant case-by-case relief to those too poor to pay, so they can maintain their driving privilege as part of the right to free movement.
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division just announced a major initiative to look at Judges and their sentencing practices for that very issue, as the Huffington Post reported recently.
I’d like to give a round of applause to Gardena officers Hooker, Jackson and Sgt. Stevens for getting the flabberghasted man’s car back to him, after discussing it with Zebra.
Before Zebra left, he saw police talking to the man who returned accompanied by a licensed driver.
You can visit Tom Zebra’s website at mistakenbacon.com where he receives emails from locals about police issues such as brutality and also posts individual officers’ annual compensation.
His real world name is Daniel Salmon.
He is a police-accountability activist who goes out of his way to find good cops while also standing up for individual rights and freedoms from the state.
He also has a section called the pig pen, a virtual mistaken-bacon wall of shame, reserved bcop conduct, which is where the trio of officers here could have ended up had they decided to fabricate an arbitrary or fictional law prohibiting the photographer from helping the guy get his car back.
Some argue that this was just another case of mistaken bacon, but at least it ended reasonably for all parties, and a rare ‘Good Cop’ category tag on PINAC News.
And Tom Zebra’s camera was right on the mark.