Sunday, August 24, 2014

Local Citizen Fears For Safety After Being Tailgated by Unmarked Police Car, Now Threatened With Jail Time; Cop Allegedly Lies to Boss About Verbal Exchange

What would you do if you were suddenly being aggressively tailgated by an unmarked SUV on the Interstate?

 Most rational people would do what 19-year-old Luke Brenneman instinctively did to protect himself last July 16th as he was driving through Floyd County on his way home from basketball camp - seek to avoid.

Considering the fact that there had been recent reports of fake cops pulling over unsuspecting victims in Floyd County, Indiana, where this incident occurred, Brenneman sped up in an attempt to protect himself from potential harm. What Brenneman didn't realize at the time was the unmarked car was actually being driven by Clarksville Town Police Officer Tony Bryant.

 "I did not know he was an officer so I sped up a little more to get away from him and then he proceeded to pull me over," said Brenneman.

 Brenneman says it all started after he switched lanes on I-65 to pass a semi truck north of Clarksville, Indiana, which is in Floyd County. He said he was driving in the right lane and noticed a white Ford Explorer driving in the left lane.

"I came up behind the semi truck and he was still in the left lane," said Brenneman. "I had plenty of room to get in front of him, so I decided to switch lanes and pass the semi."

Brenneman says this is when the driver of the white Ford Explorer began aggressively tailgating him. Brennen eventually pulled over even though he remained wary about the identity of the individual who was driving an unmarked vehicle, not wearing a uniform, and carrying a revolver on his belt.

Brenneman recorded a testy verbal exchange with the officer, who admitted to "pacing" Brenneman's vehicle. After telling Brenneman that he was driving 100 mph, the wary driver explained that he was afraid since he was being tailgated by an unmarked vehicle.

"You came behind me and I sped up because I was afraid," Brenneman tells the officer in the video. "I didn't know who you were."

After Bryant wrote Brenneman a citation for reckless driving, Brenneman questioned the fairness of the ticket since the officer was tailgating him in what Brenneman thought was a reckless manner.

"How is it fair that you, in an unmarked vehicle, comes up behind me, and I don't care if it's pacing or not..."  said Brenneman before he was interrupted by the officer.

"It's the law," interrupted Bryant.

"That's not the law," insisted Brenneman. "It's a two second rule." (This is referring to a rule in the Indiana Driving Manual that drivers keep at least a 2 to 4 second space between vehicles to avoid accidents.)

After threatening the driver with jail if he didn't sign the ticket, Brenneman told the officer he thought it was "ridiculous" before referring to him as an "asshole."  

Cop Allegedly Lies to Boss About Verbal Exchange 

Luke Brenneman (left) with his brothers
Brenneman was clearly frustrated with the ordeal, however, decided to pay the fine and put the matter behind him. He was surprised, however, when the money order was returned to him with a notice that he must appear in court to answer to the charge of reckless driving.

 Brennaman's father reportedly called the prosecutor and was told that if they got an attorney he would likely drop the reckless driving charge and reduce it to speeding. Local attorney John Mayer was retained as private counsel and reportedly told the Brennemans that the court clerk "began to scream at him" when he tried to explain the situation to her.

"When my father talked to the attorney again he said the four clerks run the court courthouse and the prosecutor," stated Brenneman. "They did not come to agreement on anything."

Brenneman was also reportedly told that the prosecutor mentioned jail time, a felony, and loss of license for a year in addition to also being threatened with an additional charge of evading police being added.  (You might want to check out the remedy for prosecutorial vindictiveness, Mr. Brenneman.)

 Brenneman says his father also spoke to the Clarksville Assistant Police Chief who reportedly stated that Officer Bryant claimed that Brenneman used vulgar language, including the F-word, during the exchange with the officer.

Apparently, Officer Bryant didn't realize the conversation was being video recorded, because that clearly was not the case.

This is a classic example of why it is vitally important to record all exchanges with the police. This is also an example of why more people should invoke their right to a jury trial.

This writer can vouch for the character of Luke Brenneman.  He comes from one of the finest families in the area, and he's the cream of the crop when it comes to young men with good character.

 Luke is a Purdue student majoring in Organizatonal Leadership and Supervision with a 3.5 GPA. He serves as a student manager for the Purdue Men's Basketball Team and is involved in the Purdue Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In fact, Luke Brenneman was driving home from Lexington, Kentucky after having finished working at a basketball camp when the unmarked vehicle began tailgating him.

 Luke did what any rational individual would do in this circumstance. And considering the fact that there had been fake cops pulling people over in that area, he did the prudent thing. If anyone deserves a ticket for reckless driving, that would be Officer Bryant. He also deserves a reprimand for lying to his superior officer just so he can take a good kid down. No wonder it's hard for good police officers to get respect these days when you have bullies like this out making our roads unsafe to drive on.

Let this be a lesson to all of us.  Avoid that little speed trap in Clarksville, Indiana and the nasty employees in that politically-corrupt little town in Southern Indiana.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gardner Rejects Plea Deal Prompting Outrageous Requests from Prosecutor Who Wants Jury Nullifcation Arguments Banned from Courtroom

This is Erin Gardner.
This is the prosecutor.
We caught up with Erin Gardner this week to get an update on an incredible case that should send chills down the spine of every liberty-loving American.  We're asking that readers circulate this story to viral status.  We'd like to bring national attention to this egregious abuse of power by Lafayette Police Department officers, Tippecanoe County prosecutors, and a sitting judge who is facing re-election.

Based on the evidence, we believe that a few public officials and one bully cop are deserving of public reprimand and other appropriate sanctions.

Earlier this year the LCJ published a story about Gardner's unwarranted brush with the law after she questioned the actions of LPD Officer Jeffrey Webb in demanding to see her driver's license even though she was merely a backseat passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a minor traffic infraction. 

Gardner was originally charged with resisting arrest, failure to properly identify herself, and failure to wear a seatbelt.

The resisting arrest charge was recently dropped after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that passive resistance does not constitute resisting arrest.

The dash cam video clearly shows that Gardner was passive when Officer Webb violently yanked the small-framed woman from the backseat of the vehicle even though she reportedly verbally provided him with both her social security and driver's license numbers.

Gardner also insists that she was wearing a seatbelt, and that there is no way the officer could have seen whether or not she was wearing it since it was dark prior to the car being stopped.  Gardner believes that Webb made up the phony allegation after realizing he had no probable cause to arrest her.

Gardner subsequently received medical treatment for what she says was a shoulder injury due to the aggressive conduct by the officer.  Gardner also suffers from Aplastic Anemia, a serious and potentially life-threatening disease, which has been a hindrance in defending herself against what she says are bogus charges.

In addition, after Gardner persisted in demanding a jury trial after being offered multiple plea deals, the prosecutor retaliated by adding a new charge of possession of paraphernalia.

Prosecutors have claimed that Gardner had a grinder in her possession at the time of her alleged unlawful arrest; however, Gardner says she can prove that it was not a grinder.  She says the empty container was merely a pollen collector and there is no grinding mechanism present.

After Gardner was offered a subsequent plea deal and refused, prosecutors asked Judge Les Meade to upgrade her Possession of Paraphernalia charge from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.  Gardner says that every time she invokes her right to a jury trial and rejects a plea deal, the prosecutor responds maliciously by adding new charges or upgrading existing ones.

On July 18, 2014, during a pre-trial conference, Tippecanoe County Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Starbuck demanded that Gardner be prepared for a jury trial on July 30th even though she did not have access to critical evidence.

The state had deposed two witnesses a week earlier without giving Gardner ample notification so she could make arrangements to be present.   In fact, Gardner says she only received a two-day advance notice in the mail of the last minute depositions; however, since she was on vacation during that time, she did not receive the letter until the day after the depositions were taken.

"I had no opportunity to ask questions or to object to anything," stated Gardner.  "No one should be forced to trial without having access to witnesses and evidence."

Based on this and other points of contention, Gardner objected to the state's demands that the trial  proceed on July 30th.  Gardner stated that she did not even have copies of the depositions and could not be prepared for trial without it. 

Judge Les Meade reportedly asked why Gardner couldn't "just ask her friends what they said."  Gardner was dumbfounded by this incredible statement from a judge, who ordered that the trial proceed even though Gardner was clearly unprepared.

Gardner believes she has been maliciously pressured by the state and the court into agreeing to a plea deal.  

"What courtroom is run on heresay?" asked Gardner.  "I'm not a lawyer and even I know better than that!."

"My attorney would need real facts in front of him to properly defend me," Gardner continued.

In an incredible development, Gardner says her public defender showed up at her house a day prior to the trial stating that the judge had a change of heart about Gardner's request for a continuance and wanted to meet with all parties.  After discussing the matter, Meade granted Gardner the continuance so that she could access the state's evidence.

"I'm grateful that the judge granted the continuance," stated Gardner.  "Otherwise, it would have been grossly unfair."

Gardner says that one piece of evidence she received after the change-of-heart-ruling proves that Officer Webb lied about what happened.

She says that in the police report Webb claims that he arrested her for failure to identify herself; however, in the medical report it clearly states that Webb told hospital personnel that Gardner gave him her social security number and her driver's license number prior to being arrested.  Webb's police report states that Gardner gave him "nonsensical numbers," which contradicts what he reportedly told hospital personnel before he submitted his written report.

"I gave him both my social security number and my driver's license number," stated Gardner.

Gardner says that one of the eye-witness passengers also substantiated that Gardner offered this information prior to being violently yanked from the vehicle.

The medical report also reportedly stated that Webb told hospital personnel that Gardner "had weed under her arm;" however, this was clearly a false statement based on the evidence.  This statement also contradicts what Webb wrote in his report.

Officer Webb's statements are clearly contradictory, especially considering the fact that the medical report states that Gardner tested negative for alcohol and drug use.

Prosecutor Starbuck Wants Jury Nullifcation Banned From Courtroom

Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Starbuck
Currently pending before the Court is the State's Motion In Limine.  Incredibly, Starbuck is asking that Gardner nor her attorneys be allowed to encourage jury nullification in closing arguments even though jurors and defendants have a fundamental right to this founding principle in America's justice system.

They also asked that Gardner not be allowed to mention anything about the state's changes to any of the charges against her or the timing of their actions.

[Why not, Ms. Starbuck?  Would that show your malicious motivations against an innocent woman?]

Among a list of eleven items in the motion, prosecutors include a request that there be made no mention of Webb's alleged "excessive amount of the removal of Defendant from the vehicle."

In addition, they want no mention of "any past, pending, or future civil litigation against the Lafayette Police Department or officers employed by the Lafayette Police Department."

"How could you have a fair trial with all of those conditions," questioned Gardner.

Gardner's Indianapolis attorneys have stated they believe Gardner's arrest was invalid due to the initial violation of her constitutional rights, so all subsequent charges are invalid.  They believe Gardner is being punished for exercising her right to a jury trial with malicious charges being added every time she turns down a plea offer.

The latest plea offer reportedly included a diversion with all charges dropped, unsupervised probation for six months, and a $300 fine.  

So, we must ask the obvious questions.  If there are no criminal charges why would punishment be demanded?  And why would prosecutors pursue such a lame case to the point of wasting tax dollars on expensive witness depositions for an alleged petty crime with minor consequences?

This type of abuse of power is what angers taxpayers and liberty-loving citizens, especially when there are reports of felony offenses being overlooked by prosecutors because of personal connections to alleged criminals or relatives of alleged criminals.

Wouldn't time and money be better spent on real crime, such as murders,  robberies, and rapes that are occurring in the Lafayette area in record numbers due to the influx of gang members from Chicago and Indianapolis?

And who can take a deputy prosecutor like Jackie Starbuck seriously when she posts unflattering photos of herself drinking from a beer bong on Facebook.  Shouldn't she be a better example?  The buck stops with you, Mr. Harrington! 

The taxpayers of Tippecanoe County deserve much better.  Justice demands that all charges against Erin Gardner be dropped.  Stop the witch hunt now and check your egos at the door.