February 9, 2011

Good weddance. Temp is up a bit today at +11.

Yokel news is nothing much. I had a long conversation with TracFone about their spelling proficiency and also their failure to put minutes on a phone after being paid to do so. They talked to me from Belize. We got it straightened out after about 80 minutes. Egyptians would not put up with this, but Americans accept it gladly. “I love Big Brother!”

Locally, the big story is about the guy who was arrested for “going to the bathroom” (note double euphemism) at the scene of an accident after helping a victim. The NM insists on calling him a Good Samaritan, giving a Biblical tone to the story. The new mayor asked the Police Chief to void the citation. Online commenters confuse this action with how the Gestapo behaved, showing their ignorance of history.

Fairbanks police drop charges in public urination arrest of good Samaritan

by Tim Mowry / Fairbanks Daily News Miner

Feb 09, 2011

FAIRBANKS — Charges against the Fairbanks man who a police officer arrested for urinating in public after stopping to help at the scene of an accident two and a half weeks ago will be rescinded and the man will not have to pay a $150 fine.

Fairbanks city Mayor Jerry Cleworth called Joshua Burks on Monday to apologize for what he said were the “overzealous” actions of the officer who arrested him.

After receiving complaints from the public when the story appeared in the Jan. 29 News-Miner, Cleworth asked Fairbanks Police Chief Laren Zager to look into the case.

“He did some investigating and recommended charges be reversed,” Cleworth said. “Knowing that I thought I should go ahead and contact the gentleman and apologize on the part of the city.”

Burks’ reaction?

“He said, ‘Thank you,’” Cleworth said. “It was a very short phone call.”

A call and e-mail to Burks on Tuesday were not returned as of 5 p.m.

The story was first reported Tuesday by News-Miner columnist Dermot Cole in a blog item on the News-Miner website.

According to online court records, Burks’ guilty plea was withdrawn Thursday and his friend, Jesse Warwick, was reimbursed the $1,000 he paid to bail Burks out following his arrest.

Zager, the police chief, said the arrest did not violate police policy or procedure in making the arrest but “it will never stand up to the court of public opinion.”

The officer who made the arrest, Dustin Stonecipher, “is probably less tolerant of this type of behavior than other officers and that’s why he did what he did,” the chief said, adding that Stonecipher did not receive any kind of reprimand.

Burks, 30, was arrested on Jan. 23 after he and two friends stopped to give aid to victims injured in a head-on car crash on Phillips Field Road at approximately 12:30 a.m.

The police asked the three good Samaritans to remain on scene and Burks ended up having to go to the bathroom while waiting. He stepped behind his truck, which was parked in front of two Fairbanks police cruisers, and relieved himself because there were no bathrooms around.

Stonecipher was sitting in the patrol car directly behind Burks’ truck and arrested him when he saw him urinating. He was booked at Fairbanks Correctional Center before being bailed out by Warwick.

Zager said he hopes rescinding the charges will show Burks, a convicted felon, that police “can go both ways” and that “in proper circumstances police can be more reasonable with him than his experience in previous encounters.”

It’s a good thing the guy did not turn the other cheek!


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