It all started a little after 9:30 a.m. when I was driving west along Santa Monica Boulevard and edged across Sweetzer Avenue, only to find my car blocked by a sudden slow down in traffic. I sat in my motionless car, blocking a few feet of the intersection of Santa Monica and Sweetzer and took a moment to talk on my cell phone (which I now know is illegal when you’re behind a steering wheel, even if traffic isn’t moving.)
Someone behind me on Sweetzer, evidently upset that I was blocking her, honked her horn several times. I turned and, regrettably, made an obscene gesture. Traffic eased, and I moved forward, only to hear a voice broadcast from the dark-colored and unmarked car telling me to pull over. I pulled into a parking space in front of the Crossroads used clothing store. I got out of my car and approached the annoying driver who was harassing me, saying something like “What the hell is your problem?” (My friends know that while I’m a Tar Heel by birth, after 20 years living in New York City I don’t suffer obnoxious fools.)
She was, she announced, a detective (and thus not wearing a uniform or driving a marked car). I’m still not sure why she ordered me to pull over (one of the two “crimes” I was charged with was using a cell phone while driving, something Sheriff’s Station insiders tell me is not a crime detectives typically cite people for. That’s a deputy’s job.) My guess is she was annoyed that I blocked her and made an obscene gesture at her when she honked at me. I didn’t see the flashing lights inside her car that she said she used to pull me over. And frankly, I don’t know what flashing lights inside an unmarked car driven by someone not wearing a uniform would have told me anyway.
The more serious crime I’m charged with is resisting a police officer. I’m guessing that’s because as she identified herself as a detective I asked her why the hell she was pointing a gun at me and got back into my car. I locked the doors while she approached, gun drawn, and demanded that I get out. I was on the telephone then trying to call Lt. Dave Smith, the second in command at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, for advice.
Suddenly I was surrounded by at least four squad cars and about seven deputies. This time I did what I was told when a deputy demanded I get out of the car. What I didn’t do, and what may be another reason for the charge of resisting a police officer, is give the angry detective my cell phone. Eventually it was taken from me, and I was handcuffed (those handcuffs really hurt by the way, and my right thumb as of this writing still has lost all feeling) and put in the back of a squad car for about an hour while deputies clustered on the sidewalk, apparently trying to figure out what to do.
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