Man Ticketed After Being Struck by Cruiser

Well-known local artist and AIDS survivor Gerry Mitchell was knocked out of his wheelchair by a police cruiser earlier this month, and then received a ticket for jaywalking (rolling?).

Courteney Stuart explains in this week’s Hook that Mitchell was returning home from a shopping trip to Reid’s when he stopped to wait to cross West Main at 4th. When the light turned green, he progressed across the street. Halfway across, a police car hit him from behind, hurling him from his motorized wheelchair and into the street. The apologetic Albemarle County police officer Gregory Davis leapt from his car to help, as did a pedestrian. Bleeding from his limbs, Mitchell consented to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. A city officer came to visit him a few hours later, a ticket in hand.

The press only learned about this because a bystander contacted The Hook. Mitchell just wants an apology and, presumably, the ticket to be dropped. Obviously, Officer Davis didn’t deliberately run into a man in a wheelchair, but the decision to ticket his victim quite literally added insult to injury. (Attorney Debbie Wyatt speculates that this was deliberate — as with the recent case of the officer nearly running down pedestrians on Water Street, in which he charged two of them with crimes, both of which they were acquitted of.)

Given the press attention to that other recent cruiser/pedestrian incident, the timing for this couldn’t be worse. The victim likewise couldn’t have been worse: it’s not just that he’s a man in a wheelchair, but an enormously well-known, well-respected, well-spoken man with an unimpeachable reputation. The smartest thing for the county police to do in this case would be to get the city police tear up the ticket, apologize, and move on. Let’s see how circuitous their path to that obvious solution proves to be.

44 thoughts on “Man Ticketed After Being Struck by Cruiser”

  1. This is the most disgusting stories to come out of this ever more disgusting burg in a while… well, maybe not that long, DNA swabs, Chief Longo, etc… Albemarle County Police won’t give out email addresses of its officers (though C-ville’s does, almost happily) so I have to bitch to this instead of him.

  2. The new laptops stuck up in front of the windshields creates one hell of a blind spot. Mitchell was probably in this blind spot when the cop started turning.

  3. Wow! A new ad for Charlottesville:

    “Enjoy the material wealth of an industrialized nation while experiencing the justice of a third world country. Charlottesville! The only place in America where the police will run you over and then ticket you for it.”

    I’ve learned fairly quickly that the C’ville police is not a positive force.

  4. Because this is potentially confusing, I just want to make something totally clear: it was an Albemarle County officer who was driving, but a Charlottesville officer who provided the ticket.

  5. What makes it even more confusing is the fact the Charlottesville Police has 2 people working for them also named Greg Davis. They are known on the street as “Right Way” and “Wrong Way”. The Greg Davis at the Albemarle County Police Department (the driver in this event) could be related to one of the city officers. There’s a whole lot of father-son combos in local law enforcement now.

  6. I hope he hits this so-called “world-class city” with such a lawsuit that by the time all the publicity is done its known as a “world class mudhole”(only the word isn’t mud).

  7. Gosh, these Albemarle cops just don’t give any quarter. I remember several years back when a couple of A-cops responded to some kind of domestic situation out Lynchburg Road way, and a guy who had a history of mental problems was having a bad day and acting out. So this guy is raising hell and waving a rake, or a hoe, or something like that around. And like a crazy person might do, he started moving toward the cops. So what did they do? They shot him dead. I mean why not “move out of the way” or run, or pepper spray him, or whatever. Nah, let’s just bust a cap in his ass. Less paperwork.

  8. Ice Man,

    Remember that the Albemarle officer was a gentleman about the whole thing. Anybody could get into an accident, cop or otherwise. He apologized, will presumably be making amends and deserves forgiveness. This only got shameful when a Charlottesville officer decided to hand the guy a ticket.

    I want to support the Charlottesville PD. I really do. But this comes right after one of their officers almost ran down 2 people and then got out of the car to assault a pregnant woman and arrest her and her boyfriend for complaining about his driving. This is a police department that is showing signs of being in need of a serious attitude adjustment. Tim Longo needs to get this house in order before Charlottesville completely loses patience with it’s employees.

  9. Wasn’t there a court date for this ticket yesterday? Does anyone have an update? If he’s found guilty of disobeying a pedestrian sign (or whatever this silly charge is) then he can’t sue anybody. Pretty much the reason for giving him a ticket in the first place….

  10. What is hilarious is the cops are saying the DO NOT WALK sign was on at the time he crossed. That’s their defense? That it’s ok to run over someone because the DO NOT WALK sign was on and the gentleman shouldn’t have been in the croswalk? So let’s just run him over.
    These cops around here need to get a grip. Throwing the pregnant lady to the ground and now running over a disabled person.
    And folks wonder why I dislike cops.

  11. I hope that the Albemarle police independent investigation comes back with charges for Officer Davis. That is the only thing that would make sense here, and I hope that Mr. Mitchell wins compensatory damages for his medical bills in civil court.

  12. I guarantee if one of us had hit this man we’d be locked up and probably charged with a bunch of felonies. But since it is a cop, he gets a walk probably saying it was just an accident. Oh and of course blame it on the victim because he was in the crosswalk at the wrong time.

  13. That’s a good one Bob. I mean it. I think you’ve hit on the next PC issue in the PC oriented community of C’ville. Think about…if the sign says “DON’T WALK”, that “does” discriminate against disabled people. It’s offensive to them because they “can’t walk”. So, I predict the powers that be will read my posting and the next thing you’ll see is a big gov. expense for correcting all the street crossing signs to say “Don’t Progress”, or “Don’t Proceed”, or something along those lines. How can we make a buck on this idea Bob?

  14. Waldo, who is the “he” in the 3rd paragraph, Cville Commonwealth’s Atty Dave Chapman? (D.A. = C.A. in VA, if anyone is wondering.)

    Excellent point about the laptops on the dashboard, hope that gets in the press. Fourth St. is on a big hill coming up to that light.

    Jaywalking, pedestrian right of way. I’ve posted extensively here on that before. You can look up the DMV drivers manual online. Basically, seems like either or both parties (driver & pedestrian) can be charged, but the driver *should* yield to pedestrians even when there’s not a crosswalk. The manual *specifically* mentions that drivers turning right at intersections should yield to peds crossing the street. I don’t know if the “don’t walk” sign is advisory or mandatory in that case. The manual’s point is to emphasize that drivers should yield when in doubt. Obviously the Albemarle cop would have if he had seen the guy.

    As for cops responding to mentally ill people, the local police have been involved with Crisis Intervention Training (and for a long time, I found an article from 1981 on Google Scholar!, see link below [1]). Police are front line mental health care responders. The CIT training is so they don’t misinterpret crazy behavior. Also, crazy behavior can be temporary and caused by drugs, even legally prescribed and consumed ones. But everyone here knows that!

    The main thing to know is that if you have to call the cops on a crazy person, friend, relative, stranger, whatever, ask the 911 operator for an “CIT trained” officer. Insist in it! I learned about this from a neighboring office, Mental Health America, that gives the training. Donate some money to them if you support it, they need it.

    [1] Link for boring completeness:

  15. Wow, the lead story on WINA is Sgt. Mac Sloan killed by a bus. I know there are some Cville oldtimers here. He was the beat cop on the Corner in the late 1970’s, unless I’m mistaken. Everybody down there knew him, he walked to Corner constantly.

    “Retired Police Sgt. Mac Sloan is killed in a collision with a CTS bus.
    The local law enforcement community has lost one of its best-known retirees… The victim was 74-year-old Samuel Sloan, who was known as Mac Sloan during a 30-year career with the City Police. Sloan died after his eastbound Kia hit a northbound CTS bus shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday. Sloan was a restaurant owner in his post-law enforcement years…”

  16. Jackson, I’m not sure if you’re joking or what, but where does the Hook article indicate that the officer was a “gentleman”? Yes, he did help Mitchell up and yes, he was apologetic, but he also admitted to looking down, and claiming that was why he didn’t see Mitchell. A few minutes later, suddenly he was claiming Mitchell was in his blind spot. (The logistics of this still confuse me…if Mitchell was in a crosswalk that he was turning into, how did he hit him from behind? It seems like he’d hit his side. And how did he have a blind spot that Mitchell would have been in?) Then, later, Mitchell’s offer of a ride falls through, though I realize now that was from a Charlottesville police officer, and it’s up to some good samaritan to make sure Mitchell gets his wheelchair and groceries back. None of this says “gentleman” to me.

    I know this was an accident, but not only should Mitchell’s ticket be dropped but the officer’s behavior should be looked into. Officers are supposed to be better drivers than the average person, hence why it’s perfectly legal for them to go 100 mph if the situation calls for it but I can’t go 100 mph just because I’m late for work. If this officer hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk in broad daylight downtown where the speed limit is 25, that doesn’t make me feel too confident about how he drives in other situations. And anyone who drives in downtown Charlottesville or around UVA should be fully aware that there are pedestrians everywhere and not be looking down while turning. If our police department thinks this is acceptable driving, I have a problem with that.

  17. I have known Mac Sloan for 40 years. Good honest person. I suspect some type of medical condition led up to this crash. I would suspect a heart attack if I was working the accident.
    Mac Sloan was a riot! Many years ago the city came up with policy that officers shall not smoke in the police cars. Mac Sloan outsmarted them. He held his left arm out the driver’s window, stuck his head out the window and took a draw off cigarettes as often as he wanted. He technically was abiding by the new city policy. I thought I would die laughing one day when he explained to me exactly what he was doing. Funny guy! I always enjoyed being around him!

  18. If you look at the diagram in the Hook showing how this accident occured you can only come away with one conclusion and that is that the cop was not paying attention. Driving is a full time job even for the police.
    The only way I can see a laptop interferring with his vision is if it’s directly on the dash in front of the vehicles steering wheel and open.
    The cop should at the least be charged with failure to maintain proper control of his vehicle or anything else the city pd can think of.
    The result of this internal investigation will be the same as the result of the county police officer killing the pedestrian on Rio Road a while back.
    Charging our local law enforcement officers with any type of offense is not good PR for the city county police departments.
    I also agree that Longo needs to get his troops under control, and the county needs to do some serious driver education training for its officers.

  19. Longo has his cops in fear.
    The City will not pay for good cops but will pay for other issues.
    The City is all about helping those that are fortunate while claiming to be democrats. All the evidence points in the direction of power hungry leaders that pat each other on the back.
    Soon enough a true Charlottesville native or two will get back at these faux leaders with the proper T.J. type resistance.

  20. Are the cops being given (or just willingly taking) drugs these days or what? Or is it just all that new martial law training they’re getting? Are they having secret pep rallys where they dress up like Blackwater assassins and pretend that they’ll someday actually have direct and blatant permission to kill or do anything they want to us?

    Who the hell do they think pays their salary?? I love these ones that you just ask a simple, calm question to and they turn all red like an angry little toddler that’s about to have a temper tantrum, and then proceed to let you know that you actually don’t have any right to question them about anything or you will be arrested and charged like that poor couple was when they questioned officer crack-head about why they were being arrested. If one of us ran into a pedestrian there would be an instant arrest, drug test, sobriety test, public humiliation, maybe some kind of prison time and fines for sure. They also know .08 is a joke and not at all a test of sobriety and yet they have no problem ruining lives with this crap. How do these “people” sleep at night?

    And are they going to provide us with some new star trek type of teleporting thing that instantly gets you home if you are drunk or just have had a few and know they would say you were drunk if they stopped you? Since WALKING while under the influence is now a crime called “drunk in public” whenever they need an excuse, HOW ARE WE TO GET HOME??? You could be charged with this crap just WALKING to get a cab!! Or like that couple in the crosswalk, you may have a designated driver with you and still get arrested AND MOWED DOWN by a psychotic ego-driven potential mental patient! I wonder if this rageaholic cop would have acted the same to someone yelling at him for almost running them over if he didn’t have his little costume on and was off “duty” for the night.

    Anyone out there been a victim of this crossing-the-railroad tracks crap? A friend of mine was crossing the tracks downtown from Belmont to Water street (where there are NO SIGNS POSTED saying you cannot cross or touch the tracks) with three children and his girlfriend. She crossed the tracks first and was almost across when she heard from far away something like “hey you. Stop.” She figured it was just some guy yelling up on Douglas Ave. or something so she kept walking until she heard her boyfriend and the children yell her name in a really alarming way. She stopped and turned around to see this cop GOING FOR HIS GUN and immediately realized that the guy who yelled “hey you” or something else totally unlike “Police. Stop!” was a cop. So she went back across. The children were crying, and the cop was completely freaking out because they were simply trying to ask how they were supposed to know when there are no signs anywhere. This cop was apparently so flustered and upset over them CROSSING THE RAILROAD TRACKS that he appeared to them to be having some kind of psychotic episode or something. They said he was so enraged that he even had them sign the wrong tickets and when asked “can we please just ask you a question” by them, he responded with a resounding and freakish “NO!” and was visibly shaking and looking “ready to explode” according to them. Did this guy just have a really hard time in the sandbox like most other cops or are they actually training them to act like the supposed criminals they’re out to get? And over something like crossing the tracks??? Totally insane.

    ANYONE ELSE NOTICE THE HUNDREDS OR MAYBE EVEN THOUSANDS OF UVA STUDENTS CROSSING THE RAILROAD TRACKS IN ABOUT 10 DIFFERENT SPOTS ON THE CORNER EVERY SINGLE DAY??????? ABSOLUTELY NO ONE IS PATROLLING THOSE TRACKS!!! Just go down to there and watch them crossing in droves non-stop! All day long they cross without any fear of tickets or cops!! Not trying to ruin it for them or anything but this is ######-ing INSANE!!!!

    Thse problems are everywhere in this country right now. Not just C-ville.

  21. Plenty of the local police are fine, friendly people. But they seem to protect the bad ones. Of course they all face a lot of hostility every day on many of their calls.

    I really suspect a steroid ring in the local police dept. I have seen some just raged performance. This one copy was young and was bouncing on his feet, as he raged all over some guy who had supposedly cussed at him. The other, older, calmer police just watched, a little embarrassed. But they did nothing to stop him of course.

    In some larger cities, even Roanoke, apparently the police may accept muttered cussing, or being discretely flipped off from the road. People from all over the state come to downtown Cville and can caught in unexpected situations with our easily offended officers? Just a theory.

    Also, Cville downtown is so much now a split between the very comfortable, the working stiffs, and the down-and-out. Somewhat volatile situation.

  22. The Mitchell case could make Charlottesville the next Jena,LA, and with more justification.
    Lets get Al Sharpton down here to do some much-needed buttkicking of the local powers that may be.
    And why did the city Commonwealth Attorney’s office even decide to pursue this case?
    Jim Camblos got ousted in part for stuff like this. Maybe its time someone else got handed his walking papers, in the city.

  23. HollowBoy, thus far there’s nothing in this case to suggest racism played a part. David Silva and Blair Austin were not African-American. And if there were racism at play in the Mitchell case, the last thing we need is someone like Rick Turner or Al Sharpton making things much worse, not better. They thrive on polarizing the populace, not on finding solutions or consensus.

    Colfer may be on to something there regarding rage within the force. Whether it’s steroid-induced or not, it certainly exists. Some of the older cops will admit it privately, but they see it more as a rookie problem.

    The Mitchell case, like the Austin/Silva case and so many others, comes down to one thing– entitled Charlottesville City employees circling the wagons, again and again. Accidents do happen, mistakes are made. However, the way mistakes and accidents are handled is a real mark of one’s character. Perhaps old-fashioned values like ethics and character have no place in Charlottesville government?

    Everybody’s watching out for their own pensions, but who is left to watch out for the citizens?

  24. I am not going to say racism played a part in the Mitchell case. But I am not going to say it didn’t. Whenever a black person is mistreated like that, it does make one wonder. If Mitchell had been white he may well have been charged. Really, who knows?
    If it takes someone raising the racial angle to make a point that this sort of thing should not be tolerated from the police and courts, so be it.
    If the incident involving an officer’s behavior in the railroad crossing incident is true, something is definitely wrong. I hope the persons got the officer’s name and badge number, and will complain to the chief, to City Council, the ACLU(I don’t think we have an ACLU chapter here in this alledgely”enlightened, progressive city”).
    And that they go to the press. Maybe bad publicity for the city is what is needed . Or a federal judge handing down some hefty penalties for civil rights violations.

  25. It is not a civil right to cross railroad tracks in Charlottesville, it is a violation of the City Code. They could have been fined as some others have been.

  26. As Hollow pointed out, and I agree — I bet the city police could get 6 dozen donuts, set up a little table, chairs, and coffee pot and write tickets at the rate of 75 per hour at the railroad tracks running through the UVA corner area. But I feel sure the University of Virginia and the student’s parents would be on City Council and Chief Longo like white on rice. The cops know who to target and who not to target. They’re not complete idiots. Many laws are enforced according to who you are in this city. I’d like to see a city police car go down on Saint Charles Court and enforce the parking laws. Pedestrians shouldn’t have to walk in the street because residents park their cars on the sidewalk. Any of you know why this enforcement will most likely never take place in the City of Charlottesville?

  27. Does anyone have any thoughts about how the community/individuals can support Gerry Mitchell?

    Every time I think that the local police (both Albemarle and Charlottesville) could not look worse, another terrible story hits the news. I truly believe that a majority of the local police are hardworking professionals, but clearly there are serious problems at the top levels in both departments. This is true, whatever weight you give racial tension, in our community. Surely ticketing a person in a wheelchair who had been hit by a police officer or any other driver, would be an obvious injustice whatever race the victim might be.

  28. I know how to support Gerry Mitchell. If Mr. Mitchell should pass away as a direct result of the injuries received in this collison, anybody (even a civilian) can approach the Grand Jury and seek an involuntary manslaughter charge against the officer driving the cop car. This way let a judge or jury decide if the officer was guilty of anything, rather than letting the cop shoppes decide. You can bet your last dime if somebody hits a cop working traffic at the John Paul Jones arena, and the cop later dies as a direct result of the injuries received, the commonwealth will seek at least an involuntary manslaughter charge against the driver. As a matter of fact, the commonwealth will proably start off with a greater charge, hoping to bargain out at a guilty plea for involuntary manslaughter.

  29. It may not be a “civil right” to cross the railroad tracks, but thats not the issue. It is the belligerent, overly aggressive(like reaching for his gun) on the part od the officer when he stopped the couple, if it happened as they alledged. No one should be subjected to this type of abuse, over such a minor misdemeanor.
    Another thing whats with the railroad getting all uptight about people crossing the tracks? I used to live in the Uva Corner area, and crossing the tracks was done all the time, no big deal. Its another matter if people are walking down the tracks, or loitering on the tracks. Safety? What about crossing the street? How many trains go by a day compared to how many cars?
    If the railroad is so concerned about “trespassing” on the tracks, it should hire its own security, not pass it on to local police, who should have much more important things to do as far as law enforcement goes.
    Red light runners and drivers who don’t stop at pedestrian crosswalks are far more hazardous than someone cutting across the railroad track. Lets get our priorities straight.

  30. Hang in there Gerry. I live in California and I am a friend of Gerry’s. This is digusting but it shouldn’t surprise us.

    Ever since Baby Bush and Cheney Cheater stole elections, started uncessary wars for oil, fed us lie after lie after lie after lie….to make us sick with fear….WE HAVE ALL BECOME SICK OF THEM.


    I used to respect the Police….not now …not never…ever AGAIN.
    They are more trouble than they are worth. All they are …are a drag on the economy. A Badge and A GUN. You get better protection if you hire your own security.

    I live in California….Gerry…if this happened to you here. the PIG police could not cover their ass. For this to happen to anyone is a national disgrace…bring back the PEOPLE of the U.S.A. and get these clowns out of office and fire criminal police.


  31. FYI – c-ville has an interview with Gerry in this week’s issue which makes the cvl police look even worse.

    It makes you wonder what is going on down at the 5-0.

  32. I found this on , and I don’t have a bit of trouble believing every word of it:

    When a witness to the accident tried to give Mitchell his contact information, Mitchell says that a city officer took the witness’s card away.

    “He handed it to me, put it in my hand. and the police officer grabbed it out of my hand,” Mitchell says. “It was like a struggle.”

  33. If it’s even remotely true, especially the “struggle” part, it’s assault and battery upon Mr Mitchell.

  34. This is a heartbreaking story that I hope doesn’t get tossed aside. Why does it seem like most of the time the police do less to protect the victims than they do the offenders?

  35. Maybe I didn’t catch it, but has this gotten any attention in the more traditional news outlets? 29, WINA, DP, etc?

  36. Pony, I simply don’t see the media covering much that reflects negatively on the local police departments in any manner. Unless it’s in an official press release and the police ask the media outlets like 29, WINA, and the Daily Progress to cover it. Ya see, if you bite the hand that feeds you information day to day, in this case the police, you won’t get much cooperation from them. As a matter of fact I have noticed each time a media outlet such as The Hook does cover a controversial and negative issue concerning the local police, other media outlets seem to do a positive story on the police at the same time.

  37. I’ve had plenty of experience with the police and city hall. Its a simple case of CYA (Cover Your Ass). If you write the guy a ticket, and he sues, you can say “Look at this ticket! He knew what he was doing was dangerous and he did it anyway!” in court when he invariably sues your ass for 10 mil.

    EVERYTHING the police (and city attorneys) do is based on one principle, COVER YOUR ASS.

    Audrey: That sucks about your friends. Psycho cops are scary. Although I would like to point something out about drunk in public. A bar is legally a public place, and you can be arrested for drunk in public IN A BAR. Figure that one out.

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