Last year I was stopped and ticketed by Fresno police Sgt. Michael Manfredi for riding my bicycle on the sidewalk. I have produced a few articles here at CopBlock.org detailing this encounter and subsequently the interactions that followed.
Here’s a quick recap for anyone who doesn’t know the story, I was copblocking in my old neighborhood and witnessed Sgt. Manfredi perform a warrantless search. When I asked him about the legality of the search he became defensive and told me it was none of my business.
When our conversation was over, I got on my bike and started riding down the sidewalk. Sgt. Manfredi stopped me for cycling on the sidewalk and proceeded to harass me. During my detainment he made multiple derogatory statements toward me for no reason other than I had the balls to question his authority.
When it came time to cite me for my actions, Manfredi made one of his subordinate officers sign the ticket. I demanded that he sign the ticket and take responsibility for my detainment but he refused. At the time I just thought he was being a dick – he was – but it made more sense after I appeared in court; more on that later.
I decided to skip the first court appearance out of civil disobedience. Not only had I not victimized anyone, I hadn’t even violated the municipal code that covers operating a bicycle on the sidewalk in the city of Fresno. I skipped the second court date in order to go on the MAC tour and contemplated ignoring it all together. However after being arrested, due to the warrant,while filming the police shortly after returning from the Mac tour to Fresno, I decided it was time to end the charade.
When I had my first appearance I wore a fuck the police shirt and made a verbal motion to dismiss the case based on the fact that I had not violated the municipal code or victimized anyone. The motion was denied but the judge instructed me to bring any supporting evidence with me to trial and present it again.
When I appeared for my trial on Wednesday, I expected to see Sgt. Manfredi in court but when he was missing from the court room I began to think my case was going to be dismissed based on his absence. This was mildly upsetting to me as I had spent hours preparing air tight questions that would have proved Sgt Manfredi stopped me out of retribution and not out of safety or even respect for the law. However when my name was called, an officer I didn’t recognize made his way into the well. After the judge got started the officer informed the court that he had not actually witnessed me riding my bike on the sidewalk and only wrote the citation after Sgt. Manfredi instructed him to. I made a motion to dismiss based on the missing eye-witness. Due to the lack of sufficient evidence the motion was granted and the case was dismissed.
Manfredi has been on the force long enough to know that whoever signs the ticket has to appear in court and that is why he was so adamant another officer signed the ticket. If he had penned his own name to the citation he would have had to appear in court and undergo even more of my questions, this time on the record. Since he was not concerned with safety or correctly enforcing the law, it makes sense that he would take steps to avoid having to answer for his actions.
I wanted to request a continuance and have Sgt. Manfredi brought in as a witness so that I could question him about the interaction but I decided that wasting more of my time in order to subject another individual to a potentially humiliating public experience was beneath me clearing my name was sufficient enough.
Manfredi’s vendetta against me was not only childish and selfish but a gross waste of time. I was scheduled for court on four different occasions. I missed twice and appeared twice, the end result was a dismissal because Sgt. Mandredi, the only witness, had more important things to do than testify in a municipal code trial. Imagine that? Manfredi thinks his time is more important than that of his fellow officers, the traffic court judge and the plaintiff. He also wasted the time of the Clovis police officers who dragged me to their jail for failing to appear in court. I’m sure they didn’t mind capitalizing on the chance to arrest me but whether they enjoyed it or not, it was still a waste of everyone’s time.
If Manfredi had been just that, a man, he would have realized that public questioning of police officers is normal and challenging authority is the duty of any free individual. However he acted like a child and let his butt-hurt get the best of him. This interaction proves that Manfredi like so many others within the law enforcement community are just children with badges and anyone who challenges them will suffer the consequences.