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  1. #1
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    Two acquitted of trespass over bikes locked to sign

    Two acquitted of trespass over bikes locked to sign
    By: Reed Williams
    Published: October 20, 2011


    RICHMOND, Va. --

    A Richmond judge has acquitted two people of trespassing after they locked their bicycles to a no-parking sign on a police officer's residential property.

    District Judge Phillip L. Hairston found Paige Connors and Alex Hayes not guilty of misdemeanor trespassing after a trial on Tuesday.

    "Both defendants were acquitted for the obvious reason that they had not committed the crime of trespassing," said Steven Benjamin, who represented Connors and Hayes pro bono.

    Connors, 21, and Hayes, 24, were visiting a friend on April 6 and secured their bikes on a sign that is on the property of Sgt. Percy Smith, near Grayland and Idlewood avenues.

    At some point, Connors and Hayes were told someone was trying to steal their bikes, so they went outside, where Smith had pulled up the sign to release the bicycles.

    "He was upset that the bikes were on his property," said Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin.

    She added, "We respect the court's ruling."

    Smith testified at the trial that he told Connors and Hayes not to step on his property but that they did so as they were demanding to know what he was doing with their bikes, according to Benjamin and McEachin.

    Connors called 911, and after officers arrived, the bikes were returned to Connors and Hayes.

    Smith swore out trespassing warrants against Connors and Hayes.

    "What is offensive is his anger over such a petty thing as locking two bikes to a city sign and taking custody in a way that was certainly designed to alarm their owners," Benjamin said.

    Efforts to reach Smith for comment on Thursday were unsuccessful.

    Police spokesman James Mercante declined to discuss Smith's role in the incident, except to say, "The Richmond Police Department does not comment on personnel matters."

    Benjamin said he advised his clients not to swear out warrants against Smith alleging larceny of the bikes.

    "Too many people abuse the criminal justice system seeking vindication for petty or imagined wrongs or minor annoyances," he said.

  2. #2
    Still spinnin'..... Stealthammer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrt4me View Post
    .....Connors called 911, and after officers arrived, the bikes were returned to Connors and Hayes........
    ....."Too many people abuse the criminal justice system seeking vindication for petty or imagined wrongs or minor annoyances," he said.
    Dialed 911 for a trepassing accusation!!!!!

    They ought to fire the cop for being an idiot..... and tying up the emergency 911 system.
    Just your average 'high-functioning' lunatic, capable of passing as 'normal' for short periods of time.....

    “The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits.” - Albert Einstein

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  3. #3
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    That was a foregone conclusion. I cannot believe we wasted taxpayer money trying to prosecute that offense.

  4. #4
    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthammer View Post
    Dialed 911 for a trepassing accusation!!!!!

    They ought to fire the cop for being an idiot..... and tying up the emergency 911 system.
    One of the bike owners called 911, not the cop.

    The cop sounds like a real idiot. Jeez.

  5. #5
    Half way there gmt13's Avatar
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    The responding officers probably thought that they calmed everything down and the issue was over. The property owner just could not let it go and swore out warrants. Nobody gets that angry unless this was the last straw. Does anyone know if the owner had previous issues? In any case, as a police officer, he should have known better about this. I would think Richmond would be wise to check if this guy's head is in the right place for his job.

    -G

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    Now will the cyclists return the favor by swearing out a theft warrant against the idiotic cop? I know two wrongs don't make a right, but he did unlawfully take possession of their property. Sometimes the bike hate overwhelms everything.

  7. #7
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    You didn't read the whole article, or even the excerpts in this thread, did ya, B.?
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    You didn't read the whole article, or even the excerpts in this thread, did ya, B.?
    I did read that their attorney advised them to not pursue the matter. However, he has a dog in the fight since he has to make a living working within that system. It would be easier for Smith's supervisors to deal appropriately with him if he ends up with a criminal record. Police unions are powerful forces, at least where I have lived, and about the only thing that creates an opening for punishment of wayward officers by their commanders seems to be successful criminal prosecutions.

  9. #9
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    I can see the officer reacting like that IF, he had a sign ON HIS PROPERTY, that said 'Private Property'. Because those signs can easily be bought in the local hardware store or, the hardware section of a major department store. But a metal 'No Parking' sign on a metal post, I would think would only be used by government, and private business. I didn't think metal 'No Parking' signs were available to homeowners.
    Last edited by Chris516; 10-21-11 at 06:19 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Pistard's Avatar
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    Another bunch of civil servants doing their jobs....(right or wrong..)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBRDude View Post
    One of the bike owners called 911, not the cop.

    The cop sounds like a real idiot. Jeez.
    Of course the bike owners called 911... not over the trespassing issue but over the fact that the officer had their bikes...
    Smith testified at the trial that he told Connors and Hayes not to step on his property but that they did so as they were demanding to know what he was doing with their bikes, according to Benjamin and McEachin.

    Connors called 911, and after officers arrived, the bikes were returned to Connors and Hayes.
    And how could this be the property of officer Smith... as the sign is city property. Clearly Smith was overstepping his authority.

  12. #12
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    I still cannot believe the prosecutors in Richmond are so stupid to take this to trial. Are there no real criminals in Richmond.
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  13. #13
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    Word is the city never wanted this to go to trial. They asked for, and received, several continuances on this case, which the article does not mention. Only the stubbornness of the officer apparently kept it on track at all. The city just wanted it to go away; it was obviously a loser. Especially given the defense attorney. He's one of the city's best.

    It is suspected the officer stole the no parking sign from the city and illegally installed it on his property. It does not show up on the city's inventory of no parking signs. It is a city sign.
    Last edited by Poguemahone; 10-21-11 at 07:50 PM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    I can see the officer reacting like that IF, he had a sign ON HIS PROPERTY, that said 'Private Property'. Because those signs can easily be bought in the local hardware store or, the hardware section of a major department store. But a metal 'No Parking' sign on a metal post, I would think would only be used by government, and private business. I didn't think metal 'No Parking' signs were available to homeowners.
    Plus considering that the sign would have been on the public right of way/easement. Can the bicycle owners really be guilty of trespassing? Now if they'd say gone up to his porch and locked their bikes up to the railing that'd be a different story.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Of course the bike owners called 911... not over the trespassing issue but over the fact that the officer had their bikes...


    And how could this be the property of officer Smith... as the sign is city property. Clearly Smith was overstepping his authority.
    Given that the sign is/was city property and would have been erected on the easement. Wouldn't the property owner have been overstepping his authority as the property owner to try and remove the bikes?
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poguemahone View Post
    Word is the city never wanted this to go to trial. They asked for, and received, several continuances on this case, which the article does not mention. Only the stubbornness of the officer apparently kept it on track at all. The city just wanted it to go away; it was obviously a loser. Especially given the defense attorney. He's one of the city's best.

    It is suspected the officer stole the no parking sign from the city and illegally installed it on his property. It does not show up on the city's inventory of no parking signs. It is a city sign.


    If that is true, then:

    a) where did he steal it from
    b) isn't that a violation of his being a LEO
    c) isn't the erecting an official sign on private property an overstepping of his authority
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  17. #17
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poguemahone View Post
    Word is the city never wanted this to go to trial. They asked for, and received, several continuances on this case, which the article does not mention. Only the stubbornness of the officer apparently kept it on track at all. The city just wanted it to go away; it was obviously a loser. Especially given the defense attorney. He's one of the city's best.

    It is suspected the officer stole the no parking sign from the city and illegally installed it on his property. It does not show up on the city's inventory of no parking signs. It is a city sign.
    That is even worse, if a crazy cop can run roughshod over the prosecutors office.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
    That is even worse, if a crazy cop can run roughshod over the prosecutors office.
    Here's a scary thought, given that at the very least we know that he has no problems in "confiscating" someone else's property and if the new allegations are true and he stole the sign and placed it on his own property what ELSE has he done?

    How many people has he stopped and arrested, who hadn't actually been guilty of anything other then crossing his path?
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  19. #19
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Aw-----------his hemorhoids were just pressing on his brain do to the location of his head.

    As I have observed thru out life, it is the people with just a little bit of power that tries to flaunt it the most!

  20. #20
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Given that the sign is/was city property and would have been erected on the easement. Wouldn't the property owner have been overstepping his authority as the property owner to try and remove the bikes?
    yes.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    The question of whether, or not, the No Parking sign was on city property needs to be answered. The "easement" is still considered private property for everyone except the city. If you lock your bike to the tree between the sidewalk and the curb, it would be on the city easement, but the property owner can have the police cut the lock and remove it. If you are on private property without permission, the property owner removing your bike, or whatever, and turning it in to the authorities is not illegal. If you hang a treestand for hunting in a farmer's woods, you can't charge him with taking it down and turning it in. In some states, trespassing is a civil offense, and in others, a crime. Maybe the guy was pissed because he'd just finished paying his property taxes, and had to pay taxes on that "easement", which some people want to treat like city property.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmt13 View Post
    The responding officers probably thought that they calmed everything down and the issue was over. The property owner just could not let it go and swore out warrants. Nobody gets that angry unless this was the last straw. Does anyone know if the owner had previous issues? In any case, as a police officer, he should have known better about this. I would think Richmond would be wise to check if this guy's head is in the right place for his job.

    -G
    I have to disagree; tell a driver he's wrong for telling you to get on the sidewalk, and they WILL get that angry, IMMEDIATELY; at least, around here. I have been SWERVED AT by motorists who don't like me disagreeing with them. (I was expecting another one the other day, but all he did was keep honking; he would have been invited out....)

  23. #23
    Vello Kombi, baby Poguemahone's Avatar
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    A bit more info:

    http://byrdpark.net/2011/10/20/snugl...ing-community/

    Interestingly,a "Police Vehicles Only" sign in front of the officers home has been removed by the city. Makes you wonder.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poguemahone View Post
    A bit more info:

    http://byrdpark.net/2011/10/20/snugl...ing-community/

    Interestingly,a "Police Vehicles Only" sign in front of the officers home has been removed by the city. Makes you wonder.
    Hmm, sounds like someone who thinks he has more authority then he really does, as well as someone who needs to not be a cop.
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