Massachussetts State Trooper Jonathan Brown after parking in a handicapped spot. Photo by Harold Wolfe.
With an air of arrogant entitlement, Massachusetts State Trooper Jonathan Brown pulled up to a Dunkin Donuts and parked in the lot’s only handicap spot, despite there being numerous other spots available.
The overweight cop waddled up to the counter and began ordering his donuts when he was confronted by activist Harold Wolfe, who asked him why he was parked in the handicapped spot.
Brown told him he did not see any signs (that excuse always works on officers, doesn’t it?).
Wolfe then informed him that he was going to step outside and take photos of his car parked in the handicapped space.
Brown followed him outside and demanded identification. Wolfe refused to give him any.
Instead of moving his car, Brown walks back inside and places his order. And Wolfe follows him to take a picture of him waiting at the counter.
Wolfe, who has a long history of standing up to cops, then asked Brown for his name. He also informed him that he was being recorded.
“Get away from me. Get away from me. Get away from me. Get away from me. Get away from me,” Brown began yelling.
“I’ll place you under arrest for disorderly conduct.”
As I’ve mentioned on this blog numerous times before – and as Wofle mentions on his site – disorderly conduct is a catchall reason to arrest someone when an actual crime has not been committed. In cop language, disorderly conduct translates to contempt-of-cop.
Wolfe then fired off a letter to Brown’s superiors stating the following about the incident that took place on March 16, 2010:
I do not take kindly any attempt by police to use the color of law to harrass and intimidate me by threatening to arrest me for disorderly conduct. It is simply not appropriate for a state police officer to deal with the public in the way he did.
I would like to get the officer’s name and work address in order to address several issues with him. I would also like to discuss this with his commanding officer, and get written responses to my questions as itemized on the web page.
Wolfe ended up getting interviewed by a pair of internal affairs officers, including a Lt. Gary Bearfield, who immediately began intimidating him by forbidding him to record the interview.
And below is a transcript of the ensuing exchange that is not included in the above audio clip:
Bearfield: I have been doing these kind of investigations for thirty years
and I intend to do a very thorough investigation*. Bearfield: Do you have a driver’s license? Harold: No! Bearfield: How did you get here today? Harold: A friend drove me here. Bearfield: This incident occurred on March 16th? Harold: Yes Bearfield: Around 5:30 in the morning? Harold: Yes Bearfield: What do you do for work? Harold: I’m retired. Bearfield: What did you do when you did work? Harold: Software. Bearfield: When do you normally wake up in the morning? Harold: About 3 in the morning. Bearfield: What brought you to Dunkin Donuts at 5:30 Harold: I’m there most days. Bearfield: Do you just sit there with a camera and recorder waiting for someone to park in handicap? Harold: No, I work on my computer. Bearfield: Have you found other cars parked there? Harold: Yes. Bearfield: Other police cars? Harold: Yes, including another state trooper. Bearfield: Do you have issues with others who are not police? Harold: Yes, but who would I complain to. Bearfield: Are you diabetic? Harold: No, why do you ask? Bearfield: Well, you know this Dunkin Donuts sugar stuff. Bearfield: Do you take any drugs? Harold: No Bearfield: Do you take any medications at all for heart disease? Harold: I take no medications at all. Nada. Nyet! None. Zero. No. Bearfield: Have you even been in prison? Harold: No. Bearfield: Have you ever been in county jail? Harold: No Bearfield: Have you ever been arrested? Harold: Yes Bearfield: How many times? Harold: I can’t remember? Bearfield: More than 10 times? Harold: No! Bearfield: More than five times? Harold: Maybe. You can look it up. Bearfield: We don’t do background checks on people who file complaints. Bearfield: Have you ever been treated for mental illness? Harold: No. Has trooper Jonathan Brown been treated for mental illness? Bearfield: Not that I’m aware of. Bearfield: Are you familiar with Photoshop? Harold: Yes. Bearfield: Did you use it? Harold: No. Harold: My complaint pointed to a web page. Did you examine the web page? Bearfield: No. Harold: You are the investigating officer and you are going to do a
**VERY THOROUGH INVESTIGATION but you did not examine the web page? Bearfield: That’s correct. Harold: How did you see any pictures or hear the audio? Bearfield: That was sent to us in printed form by headquarters. Harold: Why did the trooper park in handicap? Bearfield: We do not know yet, but he has until this week to send us his report. Harold: If you do not prosecute him for using the color of law to threaten someone with arrest, I will file federal charges against him and you. Bearfield: Is that a threat? Harold: No, that is a set of steps I will take against you for failing to apply laws against the state police. I remind you that you are a public servant. Bearfield: I am a public employee. I am not a public servant**. Bearfield: Was there any contact with the officer? Harold: No, we were always five feet away from each other. Bearfield: Were there any witnesses to this event with the trooper besides you? Harold: Yes, there were many regulars at Dunkin’s Donut. You can acquire the video from their cameras. Harold: I expect you to whitewash this investigation. Bearfield: Why would you think so? Harold: That’s where I’m placing my money. I await your final report. Bearfield: Do you have any further questions? Harold: Will I get a copy of the final report? Bearfield: Yes. I expect the investigation to be finished in a week or two.*
Because of the overwhelming evidence and most likely because of Wolfe’s refusal to be intimidated, internal affairs ended up sustaining the allegations against Brown.
Wolfe was walking down the street early one morning when he was confronted by Framingham Police Officer Gregory Reardon.
Reardon proceeded to life to him.
“If you don’t turn it off, you’re violating my rights and you can be arrested.
“I could arrest you now because you are taping me against my will.”
Reardon demanded to know his name, but Wolfe refused to give it to him.
At one point, Reardon reaches out for the tape recorder.
Wolfe claims on tape that he tried to pull away from the officer.
Reardon claims Wolfe slapped his hand away, which constituted assault and battery.
A year later, a jury sided with the officer and convicted Wolfe.
Fortunately, that conviction wasn’t enough to shut Wolfe up.