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Black Man Arrested by Police For Leaving His Car Running In A Local 7 Eleven Parking Lot

(Credit: Erin Darby Ortiz)

Sacramento, California — Craig Williams, a 40-year old African American man from Sacramento, California, was recently detained and arrested by a white police officer for leaving his car idling outside of a local 7-Eleven. Cell phone video and the officer’s body camera shows Craig being arrested after resisting arrest with a brief struggle with the officer, outside of the South Sacramento 7 Eleven convenience store on 43rd Avenue.

In the video, he can repeatedly be heard saying, “Come on, man. What did I do?” In response, the officer can be heard saying that he broke the law because he left his vehicle on while he was inside the store.

The video has drawn sharp criticism by the Sacramento NAACP, which says the incident highlights an ongoing pattern of aggressive behavior by some of the department’s rank and file officers toward people of color.

Craig Williams, was tackled to the ground by the patrolman and eventually arrested after he allegedly left his car running while stopping at a South Land Park 7-Eleven on Friday, May 4th, the group says. He was booked into jail on suspicion of resisting arrest and leaving ‘the ignition key in an unattended vehicle,’ police said.

Sacramento’s NAACP President, Betty Williams, called on the Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert to not file charges against the man during a Wednesday press conference.

She additionally demanded that the police department release body camera footage of the incident and information about any complaints of racial profiling made against the officer.

“I still feel shocked and appalled,” Williams, 40, said during the press conference. He was accompanied by his lawyer, Justin Ward.

“Technically, it’s illegal to leave your vehicle idling and without a brake set on a highway,” said attorney Michael Wise.

Apparently there is a law in the city of Sacramento that dates back to the 1920’s, the Sacramento City code prohibits drivers from leaving a car unattended without stopping the engine and removing the key from the ignition. The law says: “It is unlawful and a misdemeanor for any person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle to permit it to stand unattended in any public place, or any used or new car lot, or private or public parking lot, without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition and removing the ignition key from the vehicle. The registered owner of a vehicle found in violation of this section shall be held prima facia responsible for any such violation.”

But one legal expert, Attorney Michael Wise, told 13 CBS Sacramento that the law is “limited to public areas that are publicly maintained.” He continued, “This appears to be a private parking lot where the vehicle code technically would not even apply.”

The incident was filmed and posted on Facebook the following day by Erin Darby Ortiz posted the video on Facebook, garnering more than 8.6K Shares and 440K Views at time of the posting of this story. Ortiz wrote that her boyfriend was arrested for breaking a law she’d never heard of: leaving your car idling while unattended.

“At the end of the day, he shouldn’t have been in jail,” Betty Williams said during the press conference.

Sgt. Vance Chandler, a department spokesman, said he was not immediately available to answer more questions about the incident Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re looking at the whole event in its entirety,” he said.

Williams was arrested at the 7-Eleven located on 43rd Avenue in South Land Park Friday morning after police say an officer tried to contact Williams for “multiple law violations” but he refused to talk to the officer and was uncooperative.

A 7-Eleven employee confirmed it is a private lot. But Wise said even when the idling law is broken, the consequence should be a citation.

“They are not allowed to take you into custody for that offense unless you refuse to sign the ticket,” Wise said.

“I think it could have been resolved by a simple conversation,” said Christian Dapaah, a local driver.

But the Sacramento Police Department says the officer tried to make contact with Williams due to multiple law violations, and that Williams was detained after he was uncooperative, refused to talk with the officer and then struggled with the officer. Friday’s police log says Williams was arrested for resisting arrest.

Customer Joseph Romeo told CBS13 he would never leave his car idling outside. But he’s not sure Williams’ punishment was appropriate.

“Arrested?” he said. “Probably not! But probably cited or ticketed.”

As an African-American man, Dapaah said he’s not happy about how the situation escalated.

“We’ve been the victims of overreactions of these officers too many times so when you see this, it’s a little bit disheartening!”

Williams and his girlfriend are meeting with the NAACP to figure out where they stand legally.

Meanwhile, Sacramento police say this case is still under investigation.

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About AJ Woodson (2279 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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