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How bizarre!
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-09-24 11:17:26
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Ex-cop reporting drunk told to hang up

bizarre0001_01Following a suspected drunk driver who was weaving all over the highway near Okotoks, retired Mountie Rob Laird grabbed his cell phone and dialled 911. But Laird said he was shocked when after taking his information, the RCMP dispatcher told him to hang up and stop following the suspect SUV as Laird was breaking the provinces new distracted driving law.

"In all my years (of policing) I never saw anyone drive like this," said Laird, who was an RCMP officer for 10 years in Okotoks, High River and Calgary. "Completely over into the left-hand lane forcing vehicles to take the ditch and shoulder, then back again and down into the other ditch where I thought 'he'll end it here and roll it' but this went on for a long ways. "Finally we pulled up to a traffic light by Okotoks and stopped so I wrote the licence plate down and phoned 911. "I told the girl I was going to witness a fatal accident."

After giving the dispatcher the plate number and a description of the vehicle, Laird said he was told not to follow the vehicle any longer as he was breaking the law himself. "She said 'are you on hands-free?' and I said 'no, I'm not' and she says 'sir, I want you to hang up because you are breaking the law and I want you to cease following that vehicle.'" Laird didn't listen, however, and after hanging up, said he followed the SUV to Black Diamond. "I watched him get out and stagger and fall and grab his golf clubs out of the trunk and stagger into the house and basically get away with this crime," he said.

Given the gravity of the situation, Laird said the police should have been more worried about a potential drunk driver than his holding a cell phone to his ear. "My understanding of the law is if you are calling about an emergency, you can use your phone," he said. But that's not entirely true, explained RCMP spokesman Tim Taniguchi. "It basically says the use of a cellular phone or other communication device (is allowed) for contacting an emergency response unit by an individual driving or operation a vehicle," he said. "What we do is if a person calls from a vehicle using a wireless device, that's a contact, we get sufficient information to effect a police response." Taniguchi said police got enough information from Laird -- the licence plate, vehicle make and colour -- to begin investigation, which is now ongoing. "We cannot allow the driver to follow a vehicle while on a phone because that's going against the legislation," he said.


UN driver tea’d off

bizarre0002_400_01The chauffeur for a senior UN diplomat from the United Arab Emirates dashed into a Gramercy Park bodega for a cup of tea yesterday, and left his $100,000 Mercedes double-parked and idling outside. And in a New York minute, a thief drove off with the sedan, lost control and crashed it. “I was in there for only a minute, and when I came outside it was gone,” said driver Ghulan Rehmani, 43, who calmly sipped his $1 cup of Indian Danedar tea outside the Punjab deli on Third Avenue near 19th Street while cops investigated the 10 a.m. smashup.

The crook didn’t get far in the 429-horsepower Mercedes S550, which goes from 0 to 60 in six seconds and has a top speed of 132 mph. The dark-blue sedan rocketed off in a perfect circle during a failed U-turn attempt, crashing into a scaffold outside a luxury high-rise next to the deli. “He was trying to make a U-turn and didn’t know how to drive,” said Rehmani, of Astoria, Queens, a driver for Saeed al Shamsi, who had arrived just days ago for the UN General Assembly. “He made a U-turn, jumped the sidewalk and hit the building.”

The unidentified thief ran off and remains at large. Shamsi is believed to have been at the United Nations at the time. A spokeswoman for the UAE Mission would only describe Shamsi as “a senior member” of the delegation in town for the General Assembly, saying no other information was available. The Benz, registered to a New Jersey car service, had a flat front-left tire and minor dents. It was released to the company. The NYPD took the incident seriously, keeping Rehmani at the 13th Precinct station house through the afternoon so intelligence officers could question him.


Kids film themselves running stop signs

Three teens were questioned after deputies said they filmed themselves speeding and running stop signs and then posted it on YouTube. Kern County sheriff's deputies said that on Sept. 19, they received a link from a concerned person regarding reckless driving in Wasco that had been posted on YouTube. Deputies watched the video called "Wasco Running Stop Signs."

In the video, three teens are seen in a maroon car running stops signs in the city of Wasco at high speed, deputies said. Deputies recognized the location of the video, and were able to follow along the streets until the car pulled into a home, which had a distinct canopy. After a short investigation, the deputies were able to locate the address and the teens. When asked if it was a bit "silly" for the teens to have taped themselves and then put it online, the deputy leading the investigation laughed. "Well, it helped us out a lot," said Deputy Martin Barron of the Sheriff's Wasco Substation. "We were able to track down the street, the house, and the actual person who posted it. And he too was contacted, he was inside the vehicle. So as far to it being silly, eh, well, it helped us in the investigation."

The teens' statements were taken and the case has been submitted to the District Attorney's Office for review. Now the case is being handed over to the Shafter District Attorney's office, where that teen driver will be charged with reckless driving and two counts of running stop signs, officials said. Barron also said he hopes this will help teach a lesson to teenagers in the area, that even if they aren't pulled over, they can still get caught in the act.


Texas jails abolish last meals after uneaten banquet

bizarre0004_400Prison officials in the US state of Texas have abolished the traditional last meal request for inmates who are facing execution. The move came after a prisoner requested a huge meal then did not eat any of it, saying he was not hungry. Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed on Wednesday for the notorious hate-crime killing of James Byrd Jr in 1998.

The abolition followed a complaint by Texan Senator John Whitmire, who called the meal privilege "inappropriate". Senator Whitmire, a Democrat and chairman of the state Senate Criminal Justice Committee, threatened to introduce legislation if the last meal offer was not withdrawn.

"Enough is enough," he said. "It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. It's a privilege which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim." Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, replied within hours, saying the tradition would be abolished.

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