They Were Tow-tally Annihilated

, , , , | Legal | December 25, 2019

(I drive a tow truck for a living. One night at around seven, dispatch notifies me of a call from a client who has a strange vehicle in his driveway. I drive over and find the client standing directly in front of the SUV, still short of the sidewalk and thus on his property, waiting for me. It should be noted that this client has a standing contract with my employer due to repeat problems like this — resulting in our company posting several signs warning not to park here and how to contact us if towed, “several” because they are frequently torn down — and that the property in question is his home. After I get him out of the way, I take my photos and  write down the make and model of the vehicle as well as the license plate. Just as I go to hook it up — and before I actually manage to do more than approach the car — six people jump out of the house next door. The client promptly retakes his position in front of the car, and two more people come out of the house across the street, phones in hand.)

Woman #1: “What are you doing? That’s my car!”

Client: “You parked it on private property.”

Woman #2: “What are you talking about? We parked in a community spot!”

Client: “No, this is my driveway on my land. You parked here illegally.”

Man #1: “Fine. We’ll move it. Now get out of the way!” *turns to me* “And you get lost!”

Me: “The order came through dispatch and the photos and information are in the company’s cloud. I can’t call off the tow without a drop fee.”

(For clarity: I could always try to convince the client into waiving the tow, but between the vandalized signs and the attitude the random person gave me when instructing me to leave, I am not about to do this group any favors.)

Man #2: “Okay.” *to the client* “Pay the man!”

Client: “You pay him. It’s not my car that’s illegally parked.”

(At that moment, one of the other men starts wildly gesticulating, turning back and forth to the client and myself, while rapidly speaking Spanish; I would translate if there had been an actual sentence rather than a string of obscenities. While he’s doing that, the first woman runs onto the driveway and gets into the car. She starts the car and begins honking the horn and revving the engine.)

Woman #1: *with her head out the window* “GET OUT OF THE F****** WAY! MOVE!”

(The client, unfazed, remains in place for a solid thirty seconds. The fourth man then rushes at him, shouting more obscenities with his fist held high, and still the client doesn’t budge. The fourth man then stops short of actually punching my client, despite no efforts from anyone to stop him.)

Client: “Are you going to fight like a man, or are you looking for a few bruises for when you cry ‘hate crime’?”

(I’ll take this opportunity to point out the client is white and the six of them are Latino. Anyway, the fist in the air was enough for me. Before he had even stopped his approach, I had already reached into the cab for my radio and asked dispatch for a police presence due to a violent outburst. The shouting and violent gestures continue, with no meaningful changes, while I wait for their arrival.)

Officer #1: “ENOUGH! Everyone take a breath and step away from each other! Ma’am, turn the engine off and step out of the vehicle!”

(He proceeds to talk to the client, who is still unmoved from in front of the car, while his partner talks to me. Once that’s done, the first officer goes across the street to the folks with their phones out while the second officer talks to the six friends. Despite my distance, I can overhear some of the questioning from the second officer, all of which is done in Spanish.)

Woman #1: “I thought it was a communal spot! I’m from California! There are no driveways in California!”

Officer #2: “Be that as it may, this is not California. He had every right to have you towed.”

Man #3: “Well, now he won’t let [Woman #1] get the car out! He keeps standing in front of the car and won’t move.”

Officer #2: “He’s standing on his own driveway. I can’t move him from that spot unless I arrest him, which I currently have no reason to do.”

Man #3: “We paid the drop fee! He’s just trying to help the driver screw us!”

Officer #2: “My partner’s looking into that now.”

(While he is doing that, his partner collects the video from one of the bystanders and, apparently, starts watching it. As they compare notes, it starts again.)

Man #2: *to the client* “The officer said you can’t stand there and we can get our car. Now get out of the way.”

Client: *in Spanish* “Is that what he said? I could have sworn he said I can stand wherever I want on my own land. But if I’m wrong, he can tell me himself in English. And while he’s doing that, you can try thinking of something more believable.”

(That brings the situation to a full stop until the officers are ready. Be advised: the breaks between the officer’s sentences are longer than they appear, because his partner repeats each one in Spanish.)

Officer #1: “All seven of you agree the car is parked illegally. You six say is it was a misunderstanding. And after reviewing the video, we know no money has changed hands and there have been no actual attacks. So, I propose one of you six pays the driver the drop fee, and then we will personally make sure the car is allowed to be relocated to a legal parking spot. After that, you can all go home. Agreed?”

Man #2: “F*** NO! This guy’s been harassing us for months! He doesn’t have any problem with anyone else! Just us! Do something about this b****** or get some real police who will!”

(The officers then exchange a look that said, “Was he really stupid enough to say that?”)

Officer #1: “Just to be clear: you don’t want police who make sure everyone goes home tonight. You want police who make arrests, ensure 100% compliance with the law, and make the streets safe. Is that correct?”

Man #2: “Yes! Real police work!”

(He then proceeds to read out the Miranda rights, in English and Spanish, while his partner reaches into the car. First, he fiddles with the radio, and then he pulls out a bunch of handcuffs and they go to work cuffing the six friends.)

Officer #1: “We have video of you running into your car while it was illegally parked. That’s trespassing.”

Officer #2: *to [Man #4]* “We have you on video rushing towards the homeowner with your fist in the air. That’s assault.”

Officer #1: “Neither of them would have had the courage to do that without you four backing them up, so that makes all of you accessories, so you’re all under arrest.”

Officer #2: “Since the car is still illegally parked and was used during the commission of the trespass, we can have it towed to our impound lot, so we no longer need a search warrant to tear it apart and look for any other crime you may be involved in.”

Officer #1: “Regardless of what we find, you six just earned a night in lock-up and a bail hearing tomorrow. Once we’re done processing you, we’ll be calling ICE to see if that could impact your bail.”

Man #3: *in English* “WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, ICE? THIS IS A SANCTUARY CITY!”

Officer #2: “Oh, you speak English!”

Officer #1: “Our sanctuary city laws are that we cannot question people about their immigration status, cannot detain them solely because we suspect they’re undocumented, cannot arrest them solely because we know they’re undocumented, and will not cooperate with ICE if they’re after people whose only crimes are being undocumented. However, when we make arrests based on other crimes, ICE is a phone call away and completely allowed.”

Officer #2: “And our desk sergeant is usually pretty lax about it, too. Even though we’re supposed to call for all crimes, he only enforces it on violent felonies and leaves it to our discretion otherwise. However, you guys wanted the real police, so I’m sure the sergeant will understand why you all are worth a call to ICE.”

(Once the six of them were detained, the officers verified my name and statement and sent me on my way. What happened next to those six, I can only imagine.)

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