Monday, July 9, 2012

Road Hazard

So for the second time this year a drunk driver ended up in front of my house, with the accompanying APD blue lights awakening my wife. I suppose if you have to be inconvenienced by a drunk driver, sleep interruption is far preferable to some of the other alternatives.

According to APD logs (3:16 AM early Sunday morning):

Pursuit initiated after suspect vehicle struck and heavily damaged a car in traffic.  Vehicle failed to stop and continued on after patrol car activated emergency blue lights.  Operator continued to speed away as his car disintegrated posing a significant public safety threat to any vehicles that would venture out as well as to himself.  Pursuit continued for a little over one mile.  Vehicle finally stopped adjacent to the DPW.  The operator was ordered from the vehicle, and upon exiting still had not secured his vehicle.  The car rolled several feet but stopped due to significant damage.  Party placed in custody for "failure to submit" to a police officer and additional charges.

According to an additional officer:

Front passenger tire was so heavily damaged it fell off during pursuit.  During interaction at scene clear signs of impairment were detected.  Montenegro refused field sobriety test and was combative and highly uncooperative.  Bail set at $2,5000.

Joseph T. Montenegro, 8 Kim Circle, Toland, CT, age 21:
Arrested for OUI liquor--2nd offense, operating to endanger, leaving scene of accident, failure to stop for police, speeding, marijuana possession.


Anonymous said...

"Operator continued to speed away as his car disintegrated posing a significant public safety threat to any vehicles that would venture out as well as to himself."

I will give the APD an awful lot of credit for stopping this schmuck without anyone getting hurt -- and not having this become some stupid high-speed chase with a tragic outcome along the line of the car winding up in Larry's living room.

But whoever wrote the above sentence ought to be (a) embarrassed and (b)worried about what an intrepid defense attorney could do with it when this case goes to trial (which is why we wrote the report in the first placed, right?).

First, "disintegrate" means to break down into its component parts, a total and complete loss of its structural integrity. Not to loose tires and wheels and assorted trim but to no longer even be recognizable as ever having been a motor vehicle.

The Space Shuttle Columbia that burnt up upon re-entry -- that was "disintegration" with random scraps landing in people's yards. The WTC after the buildings fell, that was "disintegration" -- I don't think this was.

"...any other vehicles that would venture out..." -- on a calm, clear summer night?!?!? It isn't like this was in the middle of a blizzard or something when a prudent individual wouldn't be driving. Why the hell *wouldn't* other vehicles be on the road should their operators want to be getting somewhere.

Was the officer trying to imply that (sober) citizens ought not be driving at that hour? Or was this an attempt to add dramatic flair to an arrest report? That's the sort of thing that gets a legitimate arrest tossed out of court, and we don't want that, do we?

Far better to just be objective and give a list of the parts that were (a) damaged and/or (b) observed to have fallen off the vehicle. "The right rear tire fell off" -- that's pretty specific. "The vehicle disintegrated" -- a good defense attorney well might ask you to elaborate on the witness stand....

Anonymous said...

Oh, Larry ---

Joseph T Montenegro
UMass Student
Major: Legal Studies (BA), Political Science

Anonymous said...


What is that yen?

LarryK said...

APD took pictures of the damaged vehicle at the scene for evidence; and a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Anonymous said...

APD took pictures of the damaged vehicle at the scene for evidence; and a picture is worth 1,000 words

If the pictures truly show "disintegration" of a vehicle, I hope that the APD forwards them to the NTSB along with a strongly worded letter about possibly recalling the vehicle model in question.

If APD honestly believes that the vehicle truly would have "disintegrated" -- that had they not stopped it, the operator (and any passengers) would have literally fallen to the pavement as the vehicle would have lacked the structural integrity to hold them off the ground, then they have a duty (I believe legally as there was a MVA) to bring this to the attention of the appropriate authorities.

Now if the vehicle was merely "demolished" with "debris falling from it" and missing tires -- that is a different story.

BTW -- gut feeling here -- look into who this guy is.

Anonymous said...

@anon 1:31, I agree in part with your point, however it is my understanding that police often have to write up paperwork "on the fly," so to speak, and do not really have time for fancy composition. This report is downright eloquent compared to some I've seen---check sites like for examples. And if a jury is stupid enough to be swayed by a lawyer quibbling over the proper use of 'disintegration' then we're all ultimately screwed aren't we?

Anonymous said...

I am dismayed that this is the very young person's second offense. He is lucky that he wasn't killed. I hope he gets treatment.

Anonymous said...

1lMost police officers I know are not intimidated by the possibility of someone swinging at them -- they are instead intimidated by the reports they will have to file regarding the incident. They truly are afraid of the paperwork...

@anon 5:28 PM -- the solution is simple -- expand the Quinn Bill to include college courses in English grammar and composition -- maybe a Journalism course or two for good measure.

For those who aren't aware, a police officer can get an increase in pay if he/she/it earns a Master's Degree in Law Enforcement == the rationale being that a better educated police force is a more effective police force.

Fine -- but I have never understood why we restrict this to just the Criminal Justice major. A Glock is a tool -- nothing more. A knowledge of classic Greek philosophy is also a tool -- and I can think of lots of situations (domestics, hostage, etc) where am officer's knowledge of Classics would be a more effective tool than a Glock.

Narrowing this down to English Grammar and Composition -- if there were 2-3 officers on the force who were very good at it, one of two things would quickly happen. First, these officers might wind up writing most/all the reports -- with the other officers making it worth their while to do so -- there are all kinds of barter that would come to play, most of it quite legitimate, and like any team, a couple of people really good at something improve the overall quality of the team.

Second, a few officers able to write well -- particularly a few male officers -- would quickly end this "cops can't write" stuff. The only thing that a police officer truly fears is public humiliation - and with a few guys in the department who were good writers, the rest would learn out of fears of being embarrassed.

They may spend a bit of time down to Chestnut Court asking their now-retired English teacher to teach them all the stuff they didn't pay attention to in high school. They may have to finally deal with dyslexia and other stuff that ought to have been addressed back in K-12 and for many this is not going to be easy.

But I have had enough of the soft bigotry of low expectations. If they are reasonably intelligent and hard working, we can teach them how to write -- if we can teach Math & Science to women, we can teach men to be good writers.

Forget the criminal justice degree, let's encourage them to actually learn something that they actually will be using on the job. Let's let them get a degree in anything they can show to be relevant - I can see an officer's knowledge of Homer's Odyssey enabling him to get a psycho perp to surrender a weapon -- without violence.

Three are no fewer than three colleges in Amherst. We aren't entitled to a police department of competent writers?

Anonymous said...

Anon July 10, 2012 12:40 AM wrote:
I am dismayed that this is the very young person's second offense.

No, it is a little bit more than that. This wasn't a case of someone weaving briefly across the yellow line on an empty road, someone who ought not have been driving but who likely would have made it home anyway - without incident.

No, this is someone who was involved in a MVA that caused significant damage to his vehicle -- and I presume to the one he hit. This is someone who attempted to flee -- going at least a mile downrange with police officers chasing him.

This is more than just someone who got tagged twice -- he was in what appears to be a serious accident.

He is lucky that he wasn't killed.
My experience is that schmucks like this actually tend to kill OTHERS rather than themselves. Look at it this way -- if the drunk drives were killing *themselves* in fatal crashes, there would be no need to prosecute them as they would already be dead.

I hope he gets treatment.
Screw "treatment" -- he needs jail. Treatment isn't going to make him understand that there are consequences for doing these things -- treatment is not going to show that to him....

And why is no one speculating that his past privileged background led to the attitudes here?

Anonymous said...

LOL, Ed is back lurking on the blog!

LarryK said...

What made you think he ever left?

Anonymous said...

"Operator continued to speed away as his car disintegrated posing a significant public safety threat to any vehicles that would venture out as well as to himself."

Obviously, the officer was trying to be descriptive in a brief for documentation. This one line along with the paragraph before it is not the arrest report! The arrest report would detail all of the facts and findings from the officer's investigation. The officers did a great job and people just look for anything to nit pick at them. A simple thank you for doing your job would be nice, instead of giving the police more reason to have an us vs. them mentality.