Detained to “Prevent Interference” With a Tow

Derek shared this post via CopBlock.org’s submit page.

Date of Interaction: April 24th, 2014
Police Employee Involved: Lucas McArthur, Badge #306
Police Employee Information: Controlling Agency MNMHP0800

On April 24th, around 6:00 PM central time, I had an accident in my personal vehicle. I fell asleep behind the wheel, resulting in my truck leaving the roadway, traveling down the embankment of a roadside ditch, launching from a field entrance embankment, and nose diving into the ground, before finally stopping on it’s roof a short distance away. I climbed from the vehicle and was asked by witnesses if they should call for emergency response. I agreed that they should be contacted, as I was not aware of the requirements surrounding an incident where no other vehicles or property were damaged. Within a few minutes, several medical first responders were at the scene and began to asses me.

Shortly thereafter, several officers, including McArthur, arrived. I had been using an old cell phone without service as a dash camera, so I had the entire incident on video. Once the officer had been made aware of that, he informed me that he would be confiscating my phone as evidence. I informed him that he did not have permission to do so, and that I would file theft charges if he attempted to leave the site with it. He told me that it didn’t matter, as it was evidence in an ongoing investigation, and therefore within his duties.

McArthur then asked me for my driver’s license and proof of insurance, which I provided to him without argument. He then informed me that he would be impounding my truck because it was blocking traffic, on public land, and a hazard/distraction to other road users. I informed him that he did not have permission to seize my truck as it was NOT impeding traffic, not used in the commission or suspected in the commission of any crime, not on public land, and that I would remove it myself.

He asked if I had someone coming to remove it, to which I responded that I did. He asked if they would arrive before the tow truck he had called for, which I could not answer because I didn’t know how soon his tow truck would arrive. He informed me that if the tow truck he called for arrived first, the vehicle would be impounded. I should mention at this time that I had informed several friends, family, and coworkers of the incident, and some had arrived during these interactions. Unfortunately none had the thought to record any video of the interactions between myself and McArthur, and none of the other officers attempted to interact with me other than to asses my medical situation, that I can recall.

The tow truck that McArthur called for arrived shortly after I was released from the emergency medical responders after I refused transport to a hospital, as I did not feel I had any immediately life threatening injuries. I approached the tow truck operator and informed him that I did not consent to my vehicle being towed, and that I had someone coming to retrieve it. He acknowledged me, but continued about his preparations to flip my truck back over and hook on to tow it.

Shortly thereafter, my father, who I had contacted to tow the vehicle for me, arrived. Unbeknownst to the officer, as well as myself, my father was a personal friend of the operator and they eventually worked out a deal to have the truck returned to my home a short distance away for a lesser fee.

During the conversation between my father and the tow truck operator, when it was clear that I would not consent to the tow, McArthur informed me that he was detaining me to “ensure I did not interfere with the operator” hooking onto my truck. I was not Mirandized, and was led by the arm back to the officer’s cruiser where he proceeded to search me. He asked if I had any weapons on my person. I responded that I had a collapsible utility knife in my pocket that I use for work. He took it from my pocket and guided me into the rear seat of the cruiser.

While I waited in the cruiser, McArthur left me alone and returned to my vehicle to speak with the witnesses on site, as well as the first responders, and my family. I used a second phone without a camera to record small audio clips of my recollection of the event, as well as the officer’s actions up to that point. I was later informed by family members that the officer retrieved an old North Dakota license plate from the debris ejected from my truck upon impact. I do not believe that the officer was aware that I had already transferred the truck’s registration into my name in Minnesota and carried the relevant documents in the truck, but did not display the plates I had purchased for it; as it was not being used for commercial purposes. The reason I still had the old plates in the truck is that I was too lazy to throw them away after the previous owner informed me that he did not require me to return them to him.

After my truck had been righted and hooked for tow, McArthur asked me to unlock the phone that I had been using as a dash cam and allow him to record the screen as it replayed the crash for his camera to record. I used my second phone as a recorder again, asking him to state for the record that he wouldn’t attempt to alter or delete the footage in any way. After he agreed, I unlocked the phone and accessed the video, advancing it to just before my vehicle left the roadway. McArthur recorded the incident onto his cruiser’s camera, then restarted the video at an earlier point to “see how I was driving before the crash” to determine the state of my driving.

Once he had completed his recordings, he released me from the cruiser, returned my phone and knife, and issued me a citation.

McArthur entered the old plate information into his documents, and used it as the primary registration when he issued me the citation for failure to drive with due care, as well as a charge of careless driving. He did not bother to check the current registration for the vehicle, and therefore entered me as a driver/operator, but not the owner. He also did not indicate on the citation that there had been any kind of incident.

Throughout our interactions, I maintained a calm demeanor. I did not raise my voice to him, direct vulgar language at him, or attempt any physical interaction with either him or the tow truck operator. He did not charge me with anything for detaining me, and allowed me to leave with my father to lead the tow truck to my house as my other friends and family continued to collect my personal effects that had been scattered in the crash.

I have yet to be issued a court date to challenge the charges against me, and have not yet filed charges against the officer for his actions. I do intend to however, once I have been able to obtain all relevant documents from the pending case. I also intend to inform any media outlets who wish to report on the case, as well as openly invite anyone who wishes to be present at my public hearing to attend if they wish to witness the proceedings for themselves.

Derek

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