Curtis Schondelmeyer was in the passenger seat of a car when he used his cell phone to snap a photo of a Lexington police officer directing traffic while talking into his own cell phone, intending to send it the cop’s superiors as part of a complaint.
The department ended up mailing Schondelmeyer a citation, accusing him of impeding the proper operation of a vehicle, a statute that essentially bans texting while driving.
But the statute specifically states that violators must be driving in order to be cited with this offense.
Section 13. No person, when operating a motor vehicle, shall permit to be on or in the vehicle or on or about his person anything which may interfere with or impede the proper operation of the vehicle or any equipment by which the vehicle is operator or controlled, except that a person may operate a motor vehicle while using a federally licensed 2-way radio or mobile telephone, except as provided in sections 8M, 12A and 13B, as long as 1 hand remains on the steering wheel at all times.
But Massachusetts police regularly twist existing laws to crack down on citizens who attempt to hold them accountable, so this is nothing new.
According to Fox25:
“He was on his cell phone in his right hand, talking very animated on his cell phone, while trying to direct traffic out of the parking lot and also stop traffic on the four-lane road there,” Schondelmeyer told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.
The officer noticed Schondelmeyer but didn’t stop him, and Schondelmeyer went on his way, reporting the incident to Lexington police the next day.
A few days after that, he got a ticket in the mail charging him with impeded operation with a handheld device, a $40 ticket that could result in an insurance surcharge.
But there’s one big problem with that, according to Schondelmeyer.
“I was not driving so I was upset with the fact that it was clearly you were so distracted on the cell phone you couldn’t catch what was going on in the car,” he said.
Fox25 takes the usual mainstream media route of openly pondering if the act was retaliation when anybody with any sense can clearly see that it was retaliation.
But they at least made the effort to get a former police chief to say it was retaliation.
FOX Undercover reviewed Schondelmeyer’s complaint with Tom Shamshak, a former police chief in Winthrop and Spencer.
“This should trigger an investigation of this officer’s use of his cell phone on details,” Shamshak said.
“This guy says he wasn’t even driving when this happened. What does that tell you?” Beaudet asked him.
“It says that this was not a thoroughly investigated incident,” Shamshak replied.
“It has the stink of retaliation,” Beaudet said.
“It does have a sense of retaliation because the officer did not take the time then and there to stop and find out the identity of who was actually driving. It was a knee jerk reaction,” Shamshak replied.
But Lexington police are standing by their officer.
What else can we expect from the “Birthplace of American Liberty”?
Feel free to comments on the department’s Facebook page.