A Chamblee, GA man spent 15 hours behind bars for “stealing” about five cents worth of electricity from a nearby middle school. On a Saturday in November, Kaveh Kamooneh drove his electric vehicle to Chamblee Middle School, where his eleven year old son was playing tennis.
While there, he plugged his Nissan Leaf into an exterior outlet at the school. Within 20 minutes, a Chamblee police officer appeared, according to Kamooneh, which was enough time for him to charge roughly a nickel’s worth of electricity — a number that has been verified by Don Francis of Clean Cities Atlanta, an electric vehicle advocacy group. “He said that he was going to charge me with theft by taking because I was taking power, electricity from the school,” Kamooneh told 11Alive.
Sergeant Ernesto Ford doesn’t know how much electricity was “stolen,” he says, but he feels that it does not matter: “He broke the law,” remarked Sgt. Ford, “He took something that wasn’t his.” The responding officer filed a police report. In 11 days, at about 8:00 PM, officers showed up at Kamooneh’s house and arrested him. Sgt. Ford said that he sought the arrest warrant after determining that the school had not given permission. Kamooneh admits he did not ask permission, as nobody was there–it was Saturday morning.
Ford says he would make the arrest again: “A theft is a theft.”
Adding to a ridiculous instance of “mountains into molehills,” the school district issued a statement saying the school system “has cooperated in the investigation and will continue to do so.”
Wednesday evening, Chamblee City Manager and Police Chief Marc Johnson issued a statement as well:
[box type=”shadow”]We received a 911 call advising that someone was plugged into the power outlet behind the middle school. The responding officer located the vehicle in the rear of the building at the kitchen loading dock up against the wall with a cord run to an outlet. The officer spent some time trying to determine whose vehicle it was. It was unlocked and he eventually began looking through the interior after verifying it did not belong to the school system.
The officer, his marked patrol vehicle and the electric vehicle were all in clear view of the tennis courts. Eventually, a man on the courts told the officer that the man playing tennis with him owned the vehicle. The officer went to the courts and interviewed the vehicle owner. The officer’s initial incident report gives a good indication of how difficult and argumentative the individual was to deal with.
He made no attempt to apologize or simply say oops and he wouldn’t do it again. Instead he continued being argumentative, acknowledged he did not have permission and then accused the officer of having damaged his car door. The officer told him that was not true and that the vehicle and existing damage was already on his vehicles video camera from when he drove up.
Given the uncooperative attitude and accusations of damage to his vehicle, the officer chose to document the incident on an incident report. The report was listed as misdemeanor theft by taking. The officer had no way of knowing how much power had been consumed, how much it cost nor how long it had been charging.
The report made its way to Sgt Ford’s desk for a follow up investigation. He contacted the middle school and inquired of several administrative personnel whether the individual had permission to use power. He was advised no. Sgt. Ford showed a photo to the school resource officer who recognized Mr. Kamooneh. Sgt Ford was further advised that Mr. Kamooneh had previously been advised he was not allowed on the school tennis courts without permission from the school . This was apparently due to his interfering with the use of the tennis courts previously during school hours.
Based upon the totality of these circumstances and without any expert advice on the amount of electricity that may have been used, Sgt Ford signed a theft warrant. The warrant was turned over to the DeKalb Sheriffs Dept for service because the individual lived in Decatur, not Chamblee. This is why he was arrested at a later time.
I am sure that Sgt. Ford was feeling defensive when he said a theft is a theft and he would do it again. Ultimately, Sgt. Ford did make the decision to pursue the theft charges, but the decision was based on Mr. Kamooneh having been advised that he was not allowed on the property without permission. Had he complied with that notice none of this would have occurred. Mr. Kamooneh’s son is not a student at the middle school and he was not the one playing tennis. Mr. Kamooneh was taking lessons himself.”[/box]
It is difficult at this point to determine who to believe, but in the end a man went to jail over less money than most would stoop to pick up off of a sidewalk. He has been charged with “theft by taking without consent.”
h/t: Yahoo News