Justice in America is best when everybody is treated by the same rules no matter whether those people are important or insignificant. It's a failure when certain people receive privileged treatment for infractions and crimes where other ordinary people would be punished in application of the law. This is so foundational that it is codified by four simple words etched on the building containing the country's highest court: Equal Justice Under Law.
To illustrate that inequality can happen in Ludington, I want to look at a recent police incident report I received via a Freedom of Information Act request and leave out the names of the people involved simply because the relevance is secondary to the point that the key person, who I will refer to with the gender neutral name, Pat, is well connected in the community. Pat makes that abundantly clear when he/she threatens the arresting officer with death from above. The narrative comes from what can be found on the police report.
The Incident, Part One: Disorderly Person
This summer, Pat had imbibed quite a bit of adult beverages at a local drinking establishment. Pat was causing such a commotion on the street that Pat's adult child who lived nearby, came over to see what was happening. Pat had wanted to drive home but was obviously plastered and had others trying to prevent her from doing so. Pat's child, with help from a sibling, eventually was able to urge Pat into the car as a passenger and prepared to drive Pat home. Pat was so out of it that he/she opened the door and wandered out of the car at one of the stop signs or lights on the way home, and had to be corralled back into the vehicle.
In the meantime, the spouse of Pat's child was concerned that Pat was not in the right frame of mind and might be assaulting Pat's two adult kids, so they called 911 and they sent Officer Mike Haveman from the Ludington Police Department over to Pat's house to make sure things went safely. Pat's spouse, call them Robin, met Haveman outside of the house and waited, since Pat's ride home took longer due to the surprise escape attempts.
Robin told Haveman that Pat was out of control and the officer overheard some of the struggle and 'hysterical screaming' of Pat in the ride home over the phone. When Pat arrived, Haveman approached Pat in the car. Noticing Pat smelling strongly of alcohol with glassy and bloodshot eyes, Haveman noticed Pat acting hysterical and screaming "F&*k you" at the rest of the family whenever they tried to talk. Pat was told repeatedly by Haveman to stop screaming as it was then after midnight in a nice residential district in Ludington.
Since Pat would not let any family member talk without screaming profanities or yelling that they were lying, Haveman suggested Pat sit in the patrol car and this was agreed to. Haveman got their side of the story, and they acknowledged Pat was drunk and out of control. Since Pat had been drunk and creating a major disturbance in public, Haveman decided on arresting Pat.
That didn't sit well with Pat when the officer opened the door and got the handcuffs out for the disorderly conduct arrest. He managed the maneuver and went to drive Pat to the jail.
Intermission- dispositions of other recent disorderly conduct arrests in the area involving a public disturbance or fighting theme as was alleged here
Howard Mark Larson, 33; pleaded guilty Aug. 27 to disorderly person jostling and was sentenced to 19 days in jail with credit for 19 days served; 90 days discretionary jail for one year; must have an anger management evaluation at Community Mental Health; no drugs/alcohol; must continue current counseling program; and $385 in fines/costs
Danny Jo Shannon, 36; MCSO; disorderly person – drunk. Pretrial: July 23 at 11:30 a.m. Bail: $1,500/10 percent.
Tabitha Nicole Vigansky, 37, was found guilty June 12 of disorderly person – drunk and was sentenced to outpatient treatment; 90 days discretionary jail for one year; no alcohol/drugs; subject to random PBTs and drug tests
Neal Barton Guss, 27; July 4; disorderly conduct/disturbing the peace. Pretrial: July 29 at 3 p.m. Bail: $2,500/10 percent.
As you can see, these young, seemingly unconnected people have been charged with disorderly conduct over this last year much like Pat and given some penalties including 90 days discretionary jail time, up to 19 days served, treatments for their problems, and had up to $2500 bail. Being a disorderly person in Michigan is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.
Earlier this summer, I noted some questionable 'disorderly conduct' arrests where people were noted as walking funny, swearing at officers, or somehow annoying them at accident scenes by offering a ride to a friend. Pat's arrest had the two elements of being disorderly clearly present: drunkenness and creating a public disturbance.
LPD Officer Mike Haveman arriving at the Mason County Jail with Pat in the backseat
The Incident, Part 2: Disorderly Backseat Behavior
This part of the incident was recorded by Haveman's dashcam. Pat is in the back of the car maintaining total innocence; when Haveman keeps driving, Pat starts bashing the screen between the front and back of the patrol car with the handcuffs, you can see one hand has slipped the cuffs and it chips and scratches the screen.
After being warned of the dangers of damaging police property, Pat screams some more and then says:
"Wait until I talk to Mark Barnett, he's going to f$%king kill you! He's going to annihilate you bitch! He's going to f%$k you up; Lisa and Mark are my best friends."
Mark is the LPD chief, Haveman's superior, his wife's name is Lisa. After calling Officer Haveman "stupid", a "f$%kwad" and a "f%$king trooper", the video ends with an out of control Pat at the jail's garage appealing to an empty car: "I'm a good person. You don't get it."
The Incident Part Three: Disorderly Conclusion
Despite the threats to Officer Haveman and his career, and in spite of the original charge of disorderly conduct, which seemed warranted from Pat's midnight profanity-laced scream rampages downtown and in front of the family's house, and scraps with the kids, can you guess what happened with Pat?
Court records show a Malicious Destruction of Property (MDOP) charge (for the screen) was considered by the court that Monday on Pat's arraignment. On Tuesday, County and City Prosecutor Paul Spaniola (connected with Mark and Pat) said a warrant would not issue for that charge, the screen wasn't damaged enough, and it was arranged on Thursday that Pat would be liable for $285 in court costs only for an unspecified reason, an amount which still hasn't been paid on 50 days later. Everything was dismissed. Those records indicate she effectively served no time in jail, and never had to post bail.
For some reason the two local sources of court news, the City of Ludington Daily News (COLDNews) and the Mason County Press failed to list Pat in their usually-complete roster of arraignments and dismissals, not even an obscure reference in weekend arrests, which would have been passed along by Chief Barnett. Could Mark have pulled some strings to suffocate this story?
All of those other young people noted in the intermission, charged and suffering worse consequences than Pat for the same offense, who will have those charges attached to their name come up forever when anybody does a search on them, were not besties with Chief Barnett nor somebody whose pedigree allowed them undue privilege.
Yet, Pat was not through. To be continued...
This person has "allegedly" already come after X with false information to these thugs and tried to well... run him over????
That makes it much more guessible John. One thing about a small town, everyone knows what they are not supposed to know. In Pat's defense since their was no vehicle operation involved and this took place after home base had been reached this should have been one of those leave well enough alone and let them sleep it off situations.
Look at all of their friends who have recently been caught drunk driving, arrested, then taken home with no consequences. I can name a few. All of them went to school together, are related, or in the circle. While most people lose everything,break up families,lose jobs and income,pay fines and restitution, go to jail,have a record,lose driving privileges, have to go to meetings and counseling; none of them will ever face the same fate as others. Even our favorite Trooper who did a lot more than drive drunk,never got what he deserved. They even made up a new law and turned his car into an ORV! These people are a danger to our community and they are illegally being protected at any means and cost to us. Make sure to video these folks when you see them at the bar and drive away in their car. You will be surprised who the drunks really are. An internal investigation needs to happen. Some badges need to be turned in and some need to step down.
It is unfortunate the way the local media scurries about trying to cover up the facts and provide incomplete information when someone whom they consider socially significant and connected is apprehended.
It is this mindset that is hastening their own demise.
Penny for your thoughts?
I'm always willing to suffer and tough it out rather than capitulate on doing what's right. I think many more people would if they didn't have other considerations to deal with.
You guys seem to be making little cents. By your comments you infer that Pat may be the former first lady of Ludington for the first twelve years of this millennium, but think of how erroneous that must be.
We all know that Penny Henderson was arrested by the MCSO on September 9th, under fairly similar circumstances mind you, but I accidentally pinpointed the 'Pat' incident down to early August by my wording in the article ('still hasn't been paid on 50 days later'). Knowing that, and presuming that Pat is actually Penny would mean that the MCSO and local media totally ignored mentioning her one month prior arrest over nearly identical drunken escapades when it would have fleshed out the story.
You know they always take relish in mentioning such prior conduct of others in their other articles, so your theory may be flawed. No firm affirmations or denials on the identify of Pat before the continuation, which has been pushed back as information won't arrive for a couple more weeks.
Don't you trust your most-trusted source for the full scoop on what's going on in the Mason County area?
I love your reply, since it is the very attitude I hope to instill in faithful readers of the Ludington Torch.
Too often we hear officials say one thing or another and accept it as fact, we do the same for news articles on TV, print and the internet. We should expect proof, we should have a full illustration of why what they're saying is the case and not just a viewpoint, propaganda, or just false.
Accept my apology for not offering up more (like the police report or video) in this situation since my intent was to set up a future story along somewhat of the same lines and use this as a 'teaser'.
yes, XLFD, your stories are generally well documented and make sense, much more sense than the rosy half news the others put out. If the following story will expose what I've heard rumors of, that is many officials drinking way too much for many past years, then I just hope they all get help and consider promoting vitamin water, healthy food and mental counseling instead of beer fest, Pub crawls, and buy six-round fundraising tickets. It's been one big drunken party in this town, while our debt increases higher than ever, we still have stinky sewer, roads are not good, manholes are sinking, lead goosenecks in water lines, flooding in various places, and our taxes increase every year. I think this is not a good past record
Many things should change.