When I entered the cab industry three years ago, I couldn’t believe some of the stories I heard from other cab drivers about the tickets they received from police officers. These stories included tickets for being disrespectful to a police officer just for asking a question, receiving a ticket for not having the cab’s headlights on during daylight hours, and ticketing because one passenger decided to jump into a cab while the cab was in a no stopping zone. On New Year Eve, I had my first experience with what I felt was an unjustified ticket for blocking the flow of traffic as a Chicago cab driver.
Around 10:30 p.m. I was letting a group of passengers out on the 300 block of West Goethe. Goethe is one of those narrow, one-way Chicago streets that only one car travel on. As my passengers were paying for their cab fare with a credit card, I saw in my rear-view mirror a large SUV. Five seconds went by and I’m now hearing the sounds of a police siren turn on and then off. Yes, the SUV was the Chicago Police signaling to me to move. There was no place to move to until my passengers got out. Both sides of the street were occupied by parked cars. As soon as my passengers paid the fare and got out of the cab, I drove off only to be stopped by the police car behind me.
New Year’s Eve Night on Goethe Street
Officer Floyd, Badge # 3545 came out of her police car and asked for my hard card (insurance) and chauffeur license. She returned to ask for my driver license. Her third visit resulted in receiving a citation for obstructing the flow of traffic. Her additional comment about there being space available for me to pull over to avoid obstructing traffic is where I feel receiving the ticket was unjustified. There wasn’t anywhere to pull over and this was a fabrication of truth. An outright lie by a Chicago Police officer.
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I requested for a supervisor. I thought for some reason that a supervisor would come and be able to verify that her claim of space wasn’t true. Once I asked for a supervisor, I was asked to step out of my cab, and threatened with the impounding of my cab along with going to jail. But I insisted on seeing a supervisor. I was then told by Officer Floyd’s partner to put my hands behind my back. I was handcuffed and put into the back of the police car.
Officer Floyd called in for a supervisor. As we all waited, Officer Floyd kept saying that I was refusing to sign the ticket. I kept assuring her that I wasn’t refusing nor did I ever say that I refused to sign but only wanted to see a supervisor first and this was my right.
The field supervisor, Sgt. Hainzl, Badge # 2580 finally arrived after five minutes. After talking with Officer Floyd and her partner, he opened the door and asked me what the problem was. I told him that I would like for him to see that Officer Floyd’s claim about having space to pull over was untrue. He asked me did I obstruct traffic. I agreed that I had. He said either sign the ticket or go to jail. I agreed. After being uncuffed, I signed the ticket, was returned my hard card, driver license and a copy of the ticket with the date I am to appear in court.
While I feel my case will be dismissed in court with the evidence I will present, this does not address the larger problem of corruption by fabricating lies from a Chicago Police officer. Neither does it address the problem of loss of income a cab driver will incur just to defend himself in court. But what will come from my experience is one cab driver standing up for justice for Chicago cab drivers. This post is the beginning of what I hope will be the start of some type of change in the behavior from Chicago Police officers against cab drivers.
Our interaction on New Year’s Eve night is far from over Officer Floyd. Consider this post just the beginning of change to build a better community between the Chicago Police and cab drivers. I want to thank you for this opportunity you’ve brought to us.
January 2, 2015
Today I went to file a complaint at the Independent Police Review Authority against officer Floyd and the field Sargent. I was given a log number to keep track (log #1073194).