A Fine Line Between Honest and Stupid

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

In yet another episode of “Cops Behaving Badly”, we have Officer Gracie of the LAPD giving citizen 34 year old Chris Jackson of Venice, California, a ticket, allegedly for “riding on the wrong side of the bike path” after Jackson complained about the officer’s motorcycle blocking the bike path. The “officer” at first claims the ticket is for riding on the wrong side of the bike path. When challenged by Jackson that 1) he was passing on a dashed line and 2) that he knew of no law covering unsafe passing on the bike lane, the real reason Jackson was being ticketed came out.

He was being ticketed for disagreeing with the officer.

When faced with a challenge from both Jackson and several citizens, he then escalates the reason for the ticket to speeding under California Vehicle Code 22350. There is a problem with that as well.  Ca. VC 22350 reads “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.” [emphasis added] Undeterred by logic, citizen complaint, being told he was being recorded for the purposes of posting to YouTube or his inability to cite an applicable California statute, Officer Gracie bulldogs ahead to write his ticket insisting that he’d be perfectly happy to write more tickets all the while ignoring people both doing what Jackson allegedly did and worse (such as walking and roller-blading on the bike path).

Jackson was supposed to be in court yesterday, Friday, January 18, 2013. However, LAPD Spokesman Detective Gus Villanueva of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section said that the “ticket had been canceled in the interest of justice.” He also said the department is conducing a personnel investigation into the conduct of the officer involved (sure they are) and would not comment further.

There is certainly a line being crossed here, but it isn’t a solid yellow line.

What do you think?

Source(s): NBC, Ca. VC § 22350

~submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

67 thoughts on “A Fine Line Between Honest and Stupid

  1. I tink it stink.

    I am pretty tired of those, however few or many, LEOs who have this giant chip on their shoulders. They really need better training if they’re going to deal appropriately with he public. And, yes, I know, they put their lives on the line for me, but no one begged they to suit up or, perhaps, it is just that bully boy aspect that attracted them to the profession in the first place.

    BTW, I got a ticket in DC many years ago (50?) for riding my bike the wrong way on a one way street. I was chagrined, but it was probably legit, and I didn’t take the time off to contest it in court. The stupid part was the officer threatened that I was going to get points on my driver’s license for the violation. A bit over the top I thought.

  2. This officer is clearly a joke. My question is why do other officers (most of whom are descent) put up with these kinds of clowns?

  3. Attach electrodes to officers testicles and give him the full 50,000 watt injection….. for being a stupid ‘DICK’

  4. Disagreeing with a police officer is in fact one of the crimes that have been minted by our own cadre of “Judge Dredds” — ” I am the Law” police officers. The cyclist is lucky the stop didn’t escalate into a charge of resisting, obstruction and disorderly. Police officers are scary to see in ones path because you just don’t know what they are going to do or how they will react to you. They have guns, Tazers and they can arrest you and take away yor freedom for absolutely no reason.

    For every one of these incidents that we hear about there are many that end in disaster for the luckless citizen.

  5. Anyway, why I like this post so much is because it catches in a microcosm form, what is happening in a much broader arena than a ticket on a bike path.

    Many police and politicians view themselves as “the law” so that disagreeing with them is illegal.

  6. I see that Justice Holmes (of the supreme court?) gets the picture which we both posted at the exact same time. ;)

    Judge Dredd was a dood who applied “the law” in a manner alien to our jurisprudence, but was characterized as just in that movie series.

    This Dredd is not a judge of that dread sort, because this Dredd understands the history of “the people being the jury“, which is a better equipped social mechanism to produce justice in the long run.

    The injustice in this case is that a citizen was improperly put through the requirement to go to court because of a stiffie.

  7. This cyclist made the serious error of actually disagreeing with a police officer. He should have known better! amazing!

  8. Power corrupts. If you give a cop like this the right to write a ticket he may misuse it and if there is a crowd of people who are willing to take their time out to carry on about it, and some publicity sources who are willing to mock it and put it up for others to mock, it will be corrected. Will the cop also be corrected? Who knows? There are cops who kill people and come back without a scratch on their records and have 22 eulogies at their funerals. The more power concentrated in the person who is willing to misuse power for his own goals, the worse he will do so. Give a judge the right to become lawmaker (enters an order without jurisdiction) and law enforcement officer (enters an order to show cause why a person should not be in contempt for not obeying HIS OWN ultra vires order) and prosecutor (he holds a contempt “trial”) and executive (he orders wardens and sheriffs around too, naturally) and executive (he directs the actions of state agencies without hearings) and what do you have? The cop with his ticket squared and cubed.

    The problem with our society is two-fold and insoluble. The only way to counteract the misuse of power is by massive outpouring of money or influence, and both of them depend upon money. AND the only way to amass and direct the use of that amount of money and influence is by misusing power.

  9. I have gotten out of tickets by just saying yes sir and no sir and being polite to the officer.

    This guy probably doesnt have a job and is just an angry young man. Blame the policies of the Obama Administration not the poor cop just trying to do his job.

  10. “This guy probably doesnt have a job and is just an angry young man. Blame the policies of the Obama Administration not the poor cop just trying to do his job.”


    This is just silly and what’s worse is you know it. Why bother?

  11. It is so pathetic that I have to say it, but in the light of police abuses documented her at least weekly, this officer was a model of restraint in his reaction. In other cases we have seen the innocent, but complaining bike rider would have been tasered and arrested for filming. such a sad commentary on law enforcement today. I my opinion in this instance the officer’s honesty was personally stupid, while honest.

  12. The video doesn’t show what Jackson said beforethe confrontation.A police officer is one of the few people that can take your civil rights away. It’s best to just keep your mouth shut and not taunt them.

  13. Mike:

    I am actually tired of all this cop bashing. most cops are professionals who practice restraint in the face of jerks like this young man. if they werent, we would hear far more stories than we do.

    Do some cops abuse their position, yes. But it is a very small number.

  14. “This cyclist made the serious error of actually disagreeing with a police officer. He should have known better! amazing!” (rafflaw)

    Not even sarcastic.

    I made the mistake a number of years ago, after being pulled over for something (probably speeding 38 in the local 25mph, downhill, speed trap) of getting out of my car to walk back and talk with the officer. I’m old enough to remember when this was normal, expected, and even a show of good faith. Not anymore. You would have thought I was getting ready to go postal on him the way he informed me to get back in my car and not move. Now, I ask, in candor, how are we, the public supposed to know what the police protocol is supposed to be for traffic stops?. Maybe it’s now on the written driver’s exam, but otherwise . . .

    (I did avoid points on the license by attending ‘remedial driver school)

  15. “I’m old enough to remember when this was normal, expected, and even a show of good faith.”


    I’m old enough to remember that too. Not only was there the expectation, but the implicit undercurrent of demand, that you get out of your car and go up to their car immediately, or be considered a smart-ass. In 51 years of driving I’ve only been pulled over a handful of times, with the incidents separated by many years. When this last happened to me five years ago I knew not to get out of the car because I had seen it on TV. Supposedly this is a safety measure for police, but were I in LEO’s position I would rather see the person walking towards me in my car, than worry that they would pull a gun as I approached their car window.

  16. I used to run marathons but do not anymore after a sudden V. Tach during my daily 10 miler one day. I have a pacemaker/defibrillator now. I walk 8 miles a day at 3:30am every morning.using the bike path in the opposite direction so I can give way to the cyclists.. Last year in December, in this crisp desert cold with a hoody on covering my ears and head, I had left home and only walked about half a mile when I see the Police lights flashing, of course, it was on the wrong side.

    The Police officer asked me why I was not walking on the pavement and I gave him the explanation that first, the pavement does not go all the way and secondly, I have always walked in the Blke lanes. He said I am not allowed to do that. We went back and forth for sometime and then he asked me for my ID which I did show him, he checked it through his computer system, came back, and said they do not give any tickets to the walkers or runners using the Bike lanes and wished me good luck . Sometimes one meets a good cop or 2 at 3:30 am.

  17. My story….??? Forget it, ancient history, no longer pertinent.

    Result of pulling my ID as requested, showing an out-of-state licence, seemingly confirming no local power base, and downed immy with resulting split lip.
    No lip had been given. I, as is usual for me, had apologized in my crude inebriated way for giving the trouble to chase me down.

    Would I drive in or even visit the USA? Only if the Prez and his SS escort me.

  18. On my way home from the coffee shop this morning I was driving 25 mph in a 25 mph speed zone when I noticed the headlights flashing on the car approaching me. As we drew closer together the driver stuck his hand out the window with a thumbs up signal. As we passed I saw the –Police Department signage on the side of his car.

    I guess he was practicing positive reinforcement.

  19. Blouise,

    I’m glad that if you had to interact with the police and it involved reinforcements that at least it was positive reinforcements.

  20. When my mother was having car trouble with her car stalling without warning, I followed her to her automative repair appointment. We stayed in the right lane all the way. It was early in the morning. As we passed an elementary school at 15 mph where the children were entering, I saw a female police officer in front of the school with a clipboard engaged in a lengthy conversation. The automotive shop was a shot distance beyond the school. Mother pulled in with me still behind her, followed by the cop with her flashers ablaze. She was in a huff and ready to read me the riot act for allegedly having passed cars in the school zone. I calmy tried to explain that first I knew better than to do something so stupid but secondly I was following my mother’s car which was at risk of simply stopping in traffic and creating a traffic jam. If I stayed behind her and she stalled, I could push her car onto the side of road. The cop continued to argue that she saw “me” pass in the school zone. Fortunately when I mentioned that when I had passed through the school zone, she was having a discussion with another individual so that whatever car she saw wasn’t mine. I must have said is with earnestness or something because she seemed a bit embarrassed, and let it drop. I know I was lucky not to have been ticketed, Tasered, or shot.

  21. MikeS,

    Just speculating. Can it be that if you had a bomb vest that the policeman’s best chance was if he approached you when you are sitting still in your car?

    Or maybe it is easier to shoot sitting ducks than moving ones?

  22. Mike Spindell 1, January 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    “I’m old enough to remember when this was normal, expected, and even a show of good faith.”


    I’m old enough to remember that too. Not only was there the expectation, but the implicit undercurrent of demand, that you get out of your car and go up to their car immediately, or be considered a smart-ass. In 51 years of driving I’ve only been pulled over a handful of times, with the incidents separated by many years. When this last happened to me five years ago I knew not to get out of the car because I had seen it on TV. Supposedly this is a safety measure for police, but were I in LEO’s position I would rather see the person walking towards me in my car, than worry that they would pull a gun as I approached their car window.
    Who dat?

  23. This officer’s actions graphically explain law enforcement’s opposition to citizens with camcorders. It is obvious that the ticket was tossed not in the “interest of justice,” but in order to avoid further embarrassment to the police department.

  24. Chris,

    Thanks for the update, but I’m curious if you were given a rationale as to why you had to bond out for court date on a ticket that has allegedly been cancelled? Has anyone officially contacted you or tried to explain why your ticket is still in process if it was cancelled? Hang in there! We’re rooting for you as you fight the good fight.

  25. Unless told otherwise when pulled over it is best to stay inside the car with your hands on the steering wheel.

  26. EastBroadwayLongBeach went prompt critical and wrote:
    Attach electrodes to officers testicles and give him the full 50,000 watt injection….. for being a stupid ‘DICK’
    All in the name of fairness and justice. Apply torture to those you consider stupid. That is what you are declaring it would seem. I never had considered electrodes and 50 kW to the genitals as being a successful treatment for those lacking in intelligence. Please share with us your other medical and judicial observations.

  27. If you look cross-eyed at a cop, he will straighten you out—-this was a mild one. The cop had been classed as a slow learner. They were right.

    Is it worse in “corrupt countries”: “Sir, you can go to jail until we have time fo try you, no bail allowed for petty crimes. Or you can make a small donation to my family. How much you got on you?”

  28. It is a big deal Chris. Cops are harassing people for no reason these days. This has to stop. they need to serve and protect instead of hassling people for no good reason.

  29. Like Darren says “Unless told otherwise when pulled over it is best to stay inside the car with your hands on the steering wheel.” Translation: the whole population of drivers (and others) has to be treated like criminals and follow a militaristic model of
    “law enforcement”. The cops are just the leading edge but, without question, they are that.

  30. To me that looks like two felony assaults, four criminal deprivations of constitutional rights under color of state law, four criminal derilection of duties, an illegal search, and at least two counts of terroristic threatening. So the LA taxpayers paid $250,000 for this and none of these four bullies was prosecuted?

    So you see somebody would have to organize protests, have all the media up in arms, yada yada yada. It can’t be done for every injustice. It cannot even be done for one percent of one PERCENT of the injustices. That’s how (and why) we are who we are. It makes us understand Aaron Swartz.

  31. I counted 6 men in blue, or tan. She must have been a real security threat. I take her at her word: she’d never been face to race with a gun before, was scared shitless she’d be shot, and basically was in shock. As to her using cell phone while driving charge, I hate that folks do that but, sadly, it’s more the rule than the exception these days that I see.

  32. There was no need to throw the woman in the CHP video to the ground. Both the officers could have just handcuffed her and that would be it.

    The search was an Incident to Arrest search and is legal. There is probable cause to arrest the driver for not pulling over due to her continuing to drive through traffic, instead of pulling off the freeway as she was directed to, she weaved through several lanes of traffic until finally coming to a stop some time later. (whether she would have been convicted is another matter, it could go either way it’s not a super solid case.)

    The lack of compliance to the orders to turn around did present a red flag for an officer safety risk which is indicative of a person who might be confrontational. While not 100% indicative, it is just one of many indicators.
    But this is minor.

    So everything the police did up to just before she was thrown to the ground was not at issue .

    From the positions of the officers being right next to her each one could grab a hand and put her into handcuffs probably without any difficulty. If the officers had simply done this, nothing would have become of it.

    This is an example of what I have been writing here for some time and what I used to tell rookies. The stupid stuff / actions have a tendancy to blow completely out of control and get officers into trouble.

    I’ll agree the woman was entitled to the damages for being forcefully tossed to the ground, it certainly was not justified to slam her down.

  33. The video of the person invlved in the Venice Beach incident AP posted:

    This brings up a point of dismay I have with some other states that continue to make minor traffic violations crimes. Succinctly, it is such a waste of time and resources and an undue burden on the citizen accused of these.

    It seems according to this man’s statements, the ticket he received was a criminal citation, of which he most post bail and have a mandatory court appearance. All for a bike trail violation. He does make a point about how disruptive it is for him and others, just to be in compliance with the system.

    Many states have decriminalized minor traffic violations, instead making them civil infractions (a monetary fine only). A person accused of an infraction in our state has three options. Pay the fine and be done with it, request a mitigation hearing to explain the reasons for the violations or request a reduction of the fine, request a hearing before a judge and contest the charge.

    Many counties over here are moving to a system where the accused can either mail in an affidavit to mitigate/contest the infraction and a judge will review it and make his / her decision. E-mail or a website is also available. So they don’t even have to show up, just send an e-mail, let the judge review it, and a reply will be made as to what the decision is and if applicable how much the fine will be. People here are not put in jail for infractions.

    Leaving minor traffic violations as crimes is archaic. WA decriminalized these around 1977. It has worked very well for us here even after all this time.

  34. Darren, just to be snarky, (I sore now see other threads why)

    You are a sterling example of the police oriented mind/guards can do what they want says the Sct/as long as it in the rule book (cops only) then anything goes down

    take was far over my head but then she’s been studying this shit for over xx years, (don’t reveal a lady’s age—verboten), so I will go with her.

    From the cop recorded in the car during the chase asking it the dashboard camera could be taken off, then it was, they thought, by the books.

    One thing I caught which no ones mentioned, but then I am more hyperparanoid than others and examine every move——-

    Remember at the end the cop who goes from the group and peers at the cop car? He was checking to see if the camera was really rolling, sealed and untouchable. It was! So he abandoned the idea of breaking her neck in the remaining “move to transport to jail” activity.
    She was lucky.

    At least they did not do a Rodney King on her.

    Did she lose the baby? If so, 2.5 million instead. There went that school from the school budget. Of course LA has no schools—-to speak of.

  35. Darren,

    Your second post mitigates the first one. You are really a good guy, with just another filter than mine. Good we have you around just to keep us informed on how some think on that side of the thin red line.

    Great that some states have it. How does it play out over time? Are traffic infractions growing, police ulcers increasing, infractors less sassy???

    Raging Police States do scare the skit out of us, just like it did her.
    She watches the wrong programs on TV.

  36. I loved Seattle in 1959, dreary, but with the roses in September, and the view of the white-topped mountain in the east at sunset, it was better than NYC.
    It was hell in reality, but then it always has been.

    You folks sound more sassy than the proles in the east. There is hope.
    Guess it is the desert air in eastern WA or the rain forest keeping nature near in the west.

  37. Idealist:

    There is a definite difference in many ways between Eastern and Western Washington. Eastern Washington is culturally another state in some respects. Eastern WA is more culturally like Montana or Wyoming. Western Washington (mostly within two counties of Seattle) is more like San Francisco. Eastern Washingtonians generally resent being politically dominated in the state legislature by King County (Seattle) because King county has more legislative districts, and hence more senators and representatives than all of Eastern Washington combined. It tends to be that Seattle Culture which is different from EW culture results in laws that EW residents consider to be outside of their wishes.

    It somewhat harks back to a term that was coined decades ago. EW citizens had a tendency to refer to Western Washingtonians, especially King County residents as being “Coasties” (from Pacific Coast) which implies arrogant yuppie types that have somewhate loose morals. Urban Western Washingtonians sometimes view EW residents as “hicks” who are backward, ultra conservative and ignorant.

    Demographic shifts mainly from people from other states coming into WA WW metro areas have changed by the numbers WA from a red state to a blue state as a whole but it is due to the concentration of blue type of politicians in the WW metro (seattle) areas. This is much to the chagrin of EW which is very republican and it tends to reinforce the blief that the coasties are taking over as some have said to me. I think over time the difference will begin to wane but it might take another generation.

    There is somewhat of a unity in WA despite this inner tension. The marijuana legalization clearly demonstrates this. The initiative passed overwhelmingly in Western WA counties but was a bit below a majority in Eastern. That said it has been more or less accepted by most Washingtonians in the end.

    There has been much talk about what will happen with the federal government which has been rather ambiguous as to whether or not it will clamp down on the citizens of Washington since the feds consider it illegal. (and no legislative effort has been really seen on the national news to change the law) I predict that if the federal government clamps down on Washington’s citizens over this it will produce a major backlash by all Washingtonians who will be united.

    Western Washingtonians will look at it from a perspective that marijuana should be legal and its war and drugs status has been a failure and people have a right to smoke the stuff. Eastern Washingtonians will look at this as a state’s rights issue and another example of oppression by the federal government; that is the idea “US Government has no business to tell us what to do.”

    I predict that if the US Government comes along and starts arresting citizens of our state for engaging in lawful activities allowed by a citizens initiative here it will be politically a hot topic that will resonate greatly, hopefully the federal politicians will recognize this stay out of our lives.

  38. Darren,

    I am heading to bed, a 3AM night was not good thing to start the day with at 9AM today. Now it is 23:20 here.

    Thank for a mighty interesting sociological and political review. The split is interesting, as is the unity for different reasons behind the WA initiative which removed marijuana from legal restraint.

    We are still struggling years after 1776 etc.

    We and your two fractions do have different views on government’s place. Now I am sitting on the fence although it is uncomfortable. The Obama regime seems but a PR apparatus designed to hide unconstitutional measures and advance the police state while keeping the corps fed and the MCI carousel also. My love of words, especially my own, overwhelms me,
    Resolutions are broken from one breath to the next one.

    Yours truly, the pompous a55!

  39. Blouise 1, January 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks ap, I couldn’t get Chris’ video to work from the link he posted.


    I couldn’t either, Blouise. (I was on my way out the door this morning and posted it, without an explanation, for lack of time.)

  40. Bike path. If I behave like that in the work place, I get the boot. This officer is burned out. He will shoot someone. There are plenty young men and women that would love to have that job. He makes me hate cops.

  41. Idealist asked:
    Great that some states have it. How does it play out over time? Are traffic infractions growing, police ulcers increasing, infractors less sassy???
    The process in WA with regard to infractions started sometime before 1984 and only had two important revisions. (one was to seperate the criminal citation and infraction notice which were a combined form previously and the other was where the signature was no longer required) Other than those two it was the same for more than 25 years. Nothing really changed as far as how many infractions were issued.

    A significant change to the number of infractions probably (though I don’t have stats to back this up, only observations) happened just after the signature requirement was lifted to help enable electronic ticket writing.

    Our department adopted electronic ticketing a few years ago. Essentially what it was was a software program in the in-car computer that would scan a driver license and was integrated with both the Department of Licensing and the court systems. All one had to do was scan the driver license, and type in the license plate and the software pre-filled in the information and all the officer had to do is add the charges, location etc. It was greatly faster for most officers than the 25+ year old method of writing the infraction on a multi-copy paper form.

    Most deputies who cared wanted the electronic system in their cars and it was given to them. When they got this installed they wrote greatly more tickets / infractions than they had before. The most compelling reason it was faster and easier. It turned out that a factor of whether an officer decided to hand out a ticket to someone was whether or not the officer felt the violation was worthwhile enough to spend the time writing out the ticket. The new electronic system eliminated that factor and a LOT more tickets were issued.

    I did not use the electronic system because I did not write enough infractions to justify the cost in my mind so I just used the paper ones. Generally the only infractions I wrote were Driving Without a License (with ID available), Failure to Provide Proof of Liability Insurance, Parking in a Handicapped Parking Zone Without Permit, and Speeding 20+ mph over limit. I gave warnings to people probably 95% of the time with the exception of the above or criminal violations which I almost always wrote them up at least.

    Of course I saw the value in pulling people over and giving them a warning, and I did this often, but except for the 20+ speeding and insurance issues I did not like writing people tickets. So when the electronic system came out, I feared that people would be written up a lot more and unfortunately I was right.

    But the worst abuse in my view came out when the legislature recently allowed speeding cameras to be installed and enforced. See RCW 46.63.170 . These are turning out to be cash cows for local and state governments. My wife told me recently, thought I have not been able to find the article to show you here, that one camera in a school zone racked up $100,000 in fines in one month alone. This is totally preposterous in my book. Consider this.

    Few officers spend the time waiting around school zones to nick people speeding, even fewer official directives from LEA management tell officers to go sit on a school zone all day and nick drivers for speeding. But, when the money printing press of the speed measuring traffic camera comes out some cities jumped in with great enthusiasm. Of course they knew there would be a backlash form the public (which hates these cameras) if they put it on regular streets. So they went with the ever popular “Save the Children” kick and then put them in school zones because it would sell better with the public for PR reasons and it would rake in just as much money.

    I can tell you all from absolute certainty that the biggest reason for speed measuring cameras is by far revenue generation. Why? because if you asked the city gov’t to budget 50 thousand dollars to hire an officer who’s sole job is to do speed enforcement in school zones the city council would have laughed you out of the town hall. But when a proposal hits the city council to spend the same amount of money to install a revenue agent atomaton known as a speed measuring traffic camera they do everything they can to put it into law. But as they say, it’s not about getting money, it’s to “Save The Children”(tm).

    So after this long winded expanation the easier it is made to write people up for infractions, the more infractions will be issued. I hope more of these are not installed, I don’t want big brother as a back seat driver.

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