Convenience Store Owner Calls Cops On Unruly Customer, Ends Up Getting Arrested

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The owner of a Chevron gas station and convenience store in Georgia says that when she called the cops to handle an allegedly rude and unruly customer, things got turned around on her and she ended up being the one in cuffs — all because she couldn’t figure out how to operate the security camera system.

The incident actually occurred back in 2008 and has since been the subject of a criminal trial and an ongoing civil case.

During a brief gasoline shortage, the owner says that one customer refused to believe her that the station’s pumps were dry. The customer would not leave and allegedly insulted the owner.

But when police arrived, the customer told officers that she had been slapped by the owner and had been on the receiving end of racial slurs.

Police asked the owner if they could look at the security camera footage. She says she tried but did not know how to operate the recording system. The only person who did, said the owner, was her son. Unfortunately, he was in school at the time and had his phone off.

“He said I need to get him here now or else,” the owner testified about one officer’s demand that her son come to the store immediately. “I asked him if he was threatening me? And he said, ‘No, I’m arresting you.’”

The owner was charged with disorderly conduct and misdemeanor battery. She was later acquitted in a trial. In February, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the police lacked probable cause for arresting her.

This Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about the case also includes some interesting details about another person who claims to have been wrongfully arrested by the same officer.

Comments

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  1. sufreak says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but if a person claims another person hit them, the officers have to act, no?
    There was no proof to the contrary, (I know we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but its hardly that anymore.) so they arrested the assaulter.

    Shouldn’t they be arresting the alleged ‘victim’?

    FYI – If you own a business, knowing how to use basics there is a good idea.

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      If there’s no evidence the person was hit, no, they do not have to act. And refusing to allow reasonable measures, such as waiting for her son to be available, is not OK.

      • SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

        Righty-O, and both have the option to press charges at a later date as long as they do it within the statute of limitations.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      In addition to Chuft’s comment, both parties alleged grievances with the other. So if you follow your logic, both should have been arrested, not one party.

    • J-Mac says:

      No such thing – where did you hear that?

      Besides, the owner wasn’t even arrested for the supposed slap; she was arrested for “disorderly conduct”, according to the linked article. The battery charge was added later. This cop sounds like a real winner, having a few other incidents that got him suspended. Another oddity – the owner called the police in the first place, but yet the officer believed the customer’s story over hers. Sounds like yet another a town you might want to route around if driving through Georgia!

      Jim

      • iamlost26 says:

        The second story in the article is even better:

        He issued a warrant for the arrest of a man based on him getting picked out of a photo line up for an armed robbery — his photo was ten years old, from when he was a teenager, though. When he called the officer to tell him that he hadn’t set foot in that state in NINE YEARS, the officer didn’t listen. The poor guy spent 3 months in jail after that before his photo was “updated”.

    • iesika says:

      My boss doesn’t know how to use our copy center. If the owner’s son is the business’s tech guy, I’m not surprised she doesn’t know how to work the tech without his help. It’s possible she’s never even had to play that video back before.

    • Montezuma says:

      Law enforcement has no duty to act, per Warren v D.C. The only time this isn’t the case is during domestic violence incidents. Of course, one must establish an aggressor to force action. Even then, there are many situations that action is not required.

      The Fifth Amendment also gives people protection against incriminating themselves. Once that customer made the accusation, the owner had no responsibility to provide possible evidence to cause self-incrimination. You really need to learn the law, as you are in for some major surprises, should you be on the wrong side of it.

  2. Coffee says:

    Okay…so my question is if they were later able to get hold of the tapes, and it turns out that she didn’t slap the woman, how is this other person not arrested for filing a false report or some such thing? Also, if there was no actual assault, playing the race card in this instance is really, really low.

    • DuckNCover says:

      I was wondering something similar. Why did it even go to trial if the surveillance tapes presumably could be retrieved and reviewed? So much of this seems to make no sense.

      • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

        Probably on the (bogus) “disorderly conduct” charge… or considering the officer in question, maybe we should call it “I don’t like the tone of your voice” charge.

  3. Rahnee says:

    Typical ignorant sheeple.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Which one/group? The police, the alleged rowdy customer, the convenience store owner, the city, the lawyers, or the readers? I must know! I can’t stand the suspense!

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Who? The commenters? The people in the story? The police? I’m confused which party has earned that well-worn statement.

  4. daggio says:

    What’s with the unruly convenience store customers these days?

    This happened down the street from me:

    http://www.wfsb.com/story/19169331/clerk-calls-customer-honey-gets-punched-in-the-face

    • Cacao says:

      I was having a perfectly nice experience at my local bike shop when the person helping me called me HON. No I didn’t get violent but it sure wiped the smile right off my face.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        I like how you’re both acting indignant, despite the fact that this is a normal greeting and style of speech in around 1/3rd of the country.

  5. fraterormus says:

    Getting arrested is no big deal. In the United States can be arrested and held for 24 hours (72 hours if you get arrested on a Friday) for absolutely no reason at all (you simply cannot be held longer than that unless you are actually charged with a crime, which does require some resemblance of a reason). If the arresting officer feels it is worth the extra paperwork, then you get a free tour of the county jail, get a nice new Facebook photo, and get your fingerprints taken before being released of your own recognizance before you even get an arraignment hearing before a judge, which by federal law you must receive within 24 hours of being arrested (or that silly 72 hours if on a Friday).

    Normally when two parties claim wrong-doing the police will take statements and arrest them both, just to be on the safe side, letting the District Attorney and eventually a Judge sort the whole mess out. The police may enforce the laws but they are often not very versed in the law, so they just rightfully leave it up to the legal professionals to determine whether charges should be made after an arrest. If charges are filed it is because the District Attorney deemed there to be sufficient evidence of criminal guilt. The police have little to do with it unless they were witness to the crime.

    Lastly, when it comes to basic Assault, in most states there must be some kind of evidence of an Assault having taken place. If someone slaps you or hits you and doesn’t draw blood, doesn’t leave a bruise, doesn’t even leave a red spot, and hasn’t caused you to seek emergency medical attention, then the best they can charge them with is Harassment (saying or doing something that is offensive to another person’s sensibilities, a misdemeanor, generally a ticketable offense, no different than Littering, or having your dog off a leash).

    So yeah, something sounds rotten in Denmark according to this story. Probably just another bad Cop on a power-trip, trying to exercise his overblown ego. I suppose that is what happens when we take those with a High School Education and the third lowest IQ of any profession and give them a badge, a gun, and authority, and expect them to resist the temptations of the human condition. We probably shouldn’t be surprised.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      If I walk up to you and tell you I’m going to beat your ass, that’s Assault.

      If I actually beat your ass, that’s Assault and Battery.

      If I slap you, that’s Assault, unless I caused physical injury.

      An Assault charge doesn’t require any physical evidence.

  6. steam says:

    This an example of the arrest happy police today. Too many people are arrested for simple issues that could be resolved by careful consideration and common sense. But these days the police arrest people to prevent any liability and just add to the arrests recorded on the officer’s record.

    In the meantime the victim or person arrested is facing a life time record.

  7. evilpete says:

    What pisses me off is that the accuser that lied *never* gets charged. And you end up with a high legal bill for the privilege of proving your innocence.

    Additionally any civil case you have against your ( false ) accuser is weak unless the prosecutors press charges against the accuser

    … and yes it has happened to me.

    • ReverendLoki says:

      Well, to be fair, Pete, apparently you are evil. You sort of have to forgive them for making the assumption.

  8. MarkFL says:

    The most unbelievable part of the story was when the owner claimed that her son’s phone was off because he was at school. People do not turn their phones off just because they are at school. Or at work. Or on an airplane. Or driving through rush hour traffic. Or anywhere else, really.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      I dream of the day when we have faraday cages around the Public and Passenger sections of every building and vehicle.

  9. Over the River says:

    And again. This is one more reason why you never, ever call the police.