One arrest, two stories

BY BILL BROWN

A routine traffic stop of a 73 year old Takoma Park resident on May 13 escalated into a car chase and an arrest on multiple charges, including second degree assault, indecent exposure and resisting arrest.

Charged was city resident Karin Anderson.

According to the police announcement, Anderson was observed making a right hand turn from Ethan Allen Avenue to Jackson Avenue – an illegal turn at the time, 3:38 PM.

After being stopped, “Anderson immediately got out of her vehicle and began berating and yelling at the officers,” according to a police statement.

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Photo of Karin Anderson from May 14 Takoma Park Police news release.

The officers ordered her to return to her car, which she did.

“But as soon as the officer approached her window, she again exited her vehicle screaming at the officers. She got back into her vehicle and then exited again screaming.” said the police statement.

Then, said police, Anderson fled the scene, driving north on Jackson Avenue. She turned left onto Lincoln, then left again onto Carroll Avenue.’

Police said she “failed to stay right of center passing multiple stopped vehicles,” wove through side streets and pulled up at her Woodland Avenue house where pursuing police arrested her. She “attempted to avoid being arrested, assaulting the officers. Anderson continued to fight, scream and assault officers during the arrest,” according to police.

Anderson tells a different story, claiming she did not make an illegal turn. She said she was on her way from her Woodland Avenue home to Sligo Creek Park to walk her dogs. She drove north on Woodland to Ethan Allan Avenue (State Route 410), turned right, and legally turned left onto Jackson at the stop sign.

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Ethan Allen Avenue at the intersection of Jackson Avenue, Takoma Park, MD, facing east. According to police, Anderson approached the intersection from this side of Ethan Allen and turned right. The sign prohibiting such a turn is on the opposite corner. Anderson says she approached from the other direction, a more direct route from her Woodland Avenue home, and turned left. The Woodland Avenue intersection is just beyond the bend in the photo’s background. Photo by Bill Brown.

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Street sign with prohibited turning hours. Unrelated to Anderson’s case, residents on a city e-mail discussion list have lately complained that the sign is not visible enough to cars approaching the intersection from the west. Photo by Bill Brown.

“I’ve lived here 47 years,” she said, arguing that she knows that right-hand turns are illegal onto Jackson that time of day.

She was upset with the officers, she said, because she knew she didn’t do anything wrong.

Anderson admits she berated them with the sort of complaints citizens often make on traffic stops – that she was a taxpayer and that they should be going after “real” criminals.

That made one officer mad, she said.

Meanwhile she was experiencing digestive distress. “I had to get to a bathroom,” she said. So she got out of her car again to tell them she needed to get to one urgently. They ordered her back to her car, she said.

So she went back to her car – and drove home.

Police cars followed her with sirens and flashing lights. Four squad cars were ultimately involved, she said. “The fact is, they could have given me an escort [home]” she said. At this point, to Anderson’s distress, it was too late for the bathroom.

She parked at her house, got out with her dogs, and made a beeline for the door.

She was intercepted and handcuffed before she got there. She begged the police to allow her to use the bathroom – and change clothes. She showed them the extent of her condition – which resulted in a charge of indecent exposure. She asked the arresting officer how he’d like it if he had to wear soiled clothing, “How’d you like poop on you?” This is the basis, she speculates, of the second degree assault charge.

According to Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg, however, at this point Ms. Anderson was “out of control.” He said she tried to smear feces on police officers, at one point throwing it at one officer and getting it on the squad-car’s exterior.

She said she was handcuffed with her hands behind her back, and she had to sit on her cuffed hands in the car. “I’ve got arthritis, my arms don’t bend that way” she said. “I’m a little old lady, not a criminal, you know?”

“You should see my arm!” she said, saying she was badly bruised by what she characterized as rough handling.

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Photos of Anderson’s bruised arms following the arrest and handcuffing. Photos provided by Sean R. Day.

“I should not have reacted the way I did” she admits, “but I’m not going to escape, for God’s sake!”

Her neighbors, who had witnessed the arrest, took charge of her dogs and fetched a change of clothing for her to take with her.

She was driven to the city holding cell where she was handcuffed to what she called “a pipe along the wall.”

Anderson was alarmed by the fact that there was no way to communicate or summon help from the holding cell. There were no cameras or intercom, she said.

She was then taken to the Rockville Montgomery County Detention Center for processing. There, she was relieved to see that the holding cell was monitored by a camera.

The Takoma Park officer who made the arrest, she said, was mean spirited. She said that when she complained about the handcuffs causing pain as she sat in the patrol car he said “Tough!”

She said the other officer was polite and kind to her, padding her with a sweatshirt to make her position more comfortable. He also asked her if she want medical attention, which she declined, when she began to hyperventilate.

Another “kind and lovely” official, she said, was the county detention center commissioner who released on her own recognizance at 4:00 AM.

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Though she admits she over-reacted, Anderson feels the police bear some of the blame. “I was so angry to be accused,” she said. “They provoked it.”

Her lawyer, Sean R. Day, said the arresting officer over-charged Anderson. “You tend to see an excessive number of charges like this when the arresting officer has taken something personally, or feels the person has been difficult or for whatever reason the officer does not like the person. It can be the officer’s way of retaliating or punishing the person.”

Chief Goldberg dismissed the allegation.

This is not Andersons first brush with the law. She said 15 years ago she was upset with a delivery driver going too fast on her street – endangering children and animals, she felt. She called police, but they did not respond. So, she took matters into her own hands – literally. She pulled the key from the van’s ignition and took them to the police station, where she was informed she was violating the law.

“I’m an over-reactive activist” she said.

Chief Goldberg said he couldn’t say much in response to Anderson’s statements because a lawsuit has been threatened.

“We’re not going to comment on it. The officers made a traffic stop, she didn’t follow the officer’s directions which led to her arrest, and its up to the judge to decide if she is guilty or not,” he said.


 

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Takoma Park Police arrested two murder suspects, faced a man wielding a knife, and held a picnic in a drug market.

2 Comments on "One arrest, two stories"

  1. Victor Thuronyi | June 6, 2015 at 8:50 pm |

    As usual, incidents like this (like most accidents) are a result of a combination of mistakes made by the people involved. The first one was the person being stopped expressing anger at the police. Why would this make sense? It is fine to question in a calm way but getting angry is likely to lead to trouble. The second mistake was made by the officer concerned. Instead of recognizing this as a situation where someone was getting angry, and was not posing a risk either to the officer or to society, and taking steps to defuse the anger, the officer seemed to have been affronted that his authority had been challenged. This too does not make sense. I hope police receive training to defuse situations like this. Not all individuals will be able to act calmly. Takoma Park police should be trained to recognize this reality and to act reasonably in the circumstances. Taxpayer resources have been wasted and unnecessary anguish caused by the police escalating the situation.

    One way of looking at this incident is as a blessing. No one was hurt. The incident seems to expose a need for better police training and for reinforcement among officers of the benefits of acting calmly and sensibly. Let’s hope they do so before someone gets hurt.

    • Your comment makes a lot of sense. A voice of reason indeed

      The reason I was so angry is that I DID NOT make a RIGHT turn onto Jackson but rather a LEFT turn coming from my home on Woodland. Officers should be sure of what they are giving a ticket for.

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