A Michigan cop arrested a runner for refusing to identify herself to the officer, who claimed she was jogging down the wrong side of the road.
But the cop was wrong.
It didn’t matter, because bad legal counsel turned a clueless citizen’s bad situation into a criminal conviction.
It cost her $707 in fines.
Vera Pecaj followed her lawyer’s advice to take a plea bargain to misdemeanor charges, because she was afraid of losing possible felony verdict in court.
“It’s humiliating to be treated that way,” Pecaj told her local news, “I still believe I did nothing wrong.”
“Why the hell’d you do this?” Pecaj asked Jain at the 1:37 mark.
Officer Jain replied, “Because you wouldn’t identify yourself.”
It becomes clear as day.
The audio tape shows that the Michigan cop probably conducted an illegal “Terry Stop” because Michigan doesn’t have a “stop and identify” law on the books in the first place.
Because when asked, the Officer didn’t articulate any reasonable suspicion of a crime, just a demand for identification, which is not enough to start a “stop and frisk” even if state law allowed it.
And the officer didn’t charge Pecaj with any underlying crime. If she resisted arrest, what crime did she commit, for which a lawful arrest was authorized for the cop?
Vera Pecaj was on her routine jog in her Michigan hometown when Green Oak Township police officer Michael Jain approached her on the north side of the road to tell her to run on the sidewalk on the southbound side of the road.
Officer Jain believed that according to Michigan law, Pecaj was running on the wrong side of Rickett Road.
When the Michigan cop approached Pecaj about it in his patrol car while she was jogging, she refused to stop to speak to him several times and just kept jogging down the street.
Officer Jain finally went up the street and waited on Wilson Road and gave Pecaj a hand signal to stop.
When they got to the station, officer Jain charged Pecaj with felony obstructing an arrest and a misdemeanor resisting arrest charges.
Officer Jain then told Pecaj she had to stop and speak to him or she would go to jail.
Once again Picaj refused to give her name and insisted she’d done nothing wrong.
Michigan cop Jain claimed in his report that Pecaj didn’t stop, and repeatedly refused to stop.
As she turned to run from officer Jain, he grabbed her arm and started saying,
“Turn around . . . Put your hands behind your back; put your hands behind your back.”
“Don’t fucking touch me!”
Officer Jain then responds by saying, “if you don’t stop, you’re going to the ground, OK?”
“I’m not going to the ground,” she scoffed.
The argument continues as he arrests her.
Pecaj admitted she was pissed that day.
But still said she didn’t do anything wrong.
At the advice of her attorney, Pecaj accepted $707 in fines and pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge in exchange for avoiding felony charges altogether.
For reasons unknown, the dash cam video did not capture any video of the actual arrest, but you can hear the dialogue on the dash cam’s audio just fine.
Local media blamed the irate jogger for her own woes, rather than investigating the Michigan cop’s poor performance.
Now, she pleaded guilty criminal charges for contempt of cop.
Vera Pecaj was actually convicted in a court of law for ‘resisting arrest’, when she wasn’t even arrested for anything in the first place.
Prosecutors have a duty to turn over any exculpatory evidence, and lawyers have a duty to their clients to defend them.
Neither lawyer seems to have felt the tug of these duties in allowing this miscarriage of justice in Michigan.