The Unpredictability of Traffic Stops

I was backing into a parking spot at a gas station/convenience store with the intention of grabbing a coffee-to-go when a man burst out through the doors of the store and sprinted across to the lot to a waiting car. He hopped into the driver’s seat, gunned the engine and raced through the lot, bouncing the small black car across the sidewalk then slewing it sideways across three lanes of traffic to a nearby intersection and making a left hand turn.  Tires screamed down rubber on pavement as oncoming vehicles braked to avoid a collision and the car accelerated away.

By all appearances it appeared to be a robbery.

I caught up to car only because the driver pulled into a parking lot and when I came up behind him with my blue and reds flashing, the driver got out of the car with his arms extended out to the sides.

“What the hell? I didn’t do anything, go pick on someone else!” he shouted. “F****** cops! Don’t you have anything better to do?”

Behind him, his car door was open.  A pitbull sat on the front passenger seat and a large pittbull/mastiff cross was in the back.  Both dogs were looking at their owner, and while the pitbull appeared bored the cross breed in the back was on high alert.  The dog was growing increasingly agitated and was starting to growl.  Not good.

I stood in the V of my open door as the man stalked towards my car, still shouting, and I had to shout back to be heard.  It wasn’t until he got closer that he saw the black police dog staring at him from between the front seats of my SUV.

“Ooo, you have a dog.  Well, I have two,” he said.  I think he was trying to sound threatening but some of the aggression went out of his demeanour when I replied.

“That’s nice.  My one trumps your two so close the door to your car.”

He squinted his eyes at me, then walked backwards and clunked the door shut.  The cross breed went absolutely berzerk.

In the background sirens were growing closer and I instructed the driver to place his hands on the hood of my truck.  He did so, reluctantly, and kept up his loud diatribe as if trying to squeeze all the injustices of the world into the next few seconds before additional police arrived.  That was fine.  He could say whatever he wanted as long as he did what I said. 

A minute later the driver was in handcuffs and the parking lot was swarming with police cars.

Turns out the driver had had an altercation with staff at the gas station, and while he did have some anger management issues he wasn’t a criminal – he hadn’t robbed the place.  He had simply turned his rage at the gas station attendant towards me.  Again, that was fine – I’d rather he rage at a police officer than at some other innocent person.

The appearance of the extra officers and the steel on his wrists had the desired effect and the rest of his aggression dissipated until the driver was polite as could be.  Yes-ma’am, No ma’am, I’m-sorry-ma’am. 

The litany kept up until I issued him a ticket, at which point he fell silent, his shoulders slumped as he took in the hefty fine. Then he was allowed to proceed, which he did so at a considerably more reasonable speed.

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