23 June 2006

TGIS: Thank God It's Schadenfreude! (69)

This week's joy in the misfortune of others comes courtesy of the Wall Street Journal (from Tuesday, June 20; subscription required):
Young men and teens wearing low-slung, baggy pants fairly regularly get tripped up in their getaways, a development that has given amused police officers and law-abiding citizens a welcome edge in the fight against crime.

James Green might have made a clean getaway when he stole seven DVDs from a Blockbuster store in Ferndale, Mich., last October. But he, too, was undone by his baggy pants.

Mr. Green, 30, rode away on a bicycle, with copies of "Donnie Brasco," "The Bourne Identity" and "Sin City." When a patrol car knocked over the bike, he fled on foot. As he ran, his trousers slipped down past his hips, and he tripped. He hitched up his pants and ran a few more yards before falling again.

Things got worse and worse for Mr. Green. He finally kicked off his pants and shoes and "ran into the yard of 1720 Beaufield," police officer Kenneth Jaklic said in a report of the incident. "I ran after [Mr. Green], yelling at him to stop." Instead, Mr. Green jumped over a fence behind a garage, and Mr. Jaklic immobilized him with two Taser darts in the back.

. . . .

Denny Fuhrman, a 58-year-old police officer in Lynnwood, Wash., was escorting a handcuffed suspect to his patrol car one afternoon in 2004 when the youngster twisted free and took off running.

As he bolted, the baggy blue jeans he was wearing fell down around his ankles, sending him tumbling onto the pavement of a busy street. "He was rolling around in traffic, looking like a fish out of water," recalls Mr. Fuhrman.

Mr. Fuhrman's suspect wiggled out of his trousers before getting up from the street and running toward a nearby mall, as the police officer radioed a description to his colleagues: "White male, running, no pants, in handcuffs," Mr. Fuhrman recalls saying. The young man was arrested at the entrance of a J.C. Penney store after Janice Lewis, a 61-year-old passerby, grabbed his shirt collar and held on to him until police arrived.

. . . .

Ill-fitting pants aren't suited for jumping, either, as Noah Donell Brown of Hendersonville, N.C., learned. The 24-year-old tried to leap over the counter of a Subway sandwich shop during a robbery attempt, but he stumbled and came crashing down in front of several startled store employees. Mr. Brown, armed with a gun, got up and fled into a nearby residential neighborhood as the police were notified.

Police didn't have to work hard to arrest him. As Mr. Brown tried to scale a picket fence in someone's backyard, he caught his pants, according to the police department. He was found dangling upside down, his pants at his ankles and tangled in the fence.

. . . .

Dwight Oliver showed up for a court hearing in Seminole County, Fla., wearing loose pants and tennis shoes without laces. While waiting for his case to be called, Mr. Oliver tried to flee. He lost his pants as he ran down the steps of the courthouse.

He was later found in gray boxer shorts in a library three blocks from the courthouse and was arrested after a scuffle with police officers. It turned out the charges he was scheduled to face in court that day were dropped. He was slapped with new charges of resisting arrest and sentenced to two and a half years in jail for the incident. He served 17 months and was released in April.

. . . .

Karl Franklin tried to run from police in Tallahassee, Fla., in pants that were on fire. According to a police report, the 30-year-old had stashed a lighted cigarette in his baggy pants and appeared to be preparing to urinate at a traffic intersection.

Seth Stoughton, a police officer at the time, approached Mr. Franklin and noticed the man's pocket was smoldering. Mr. Franklin, who could not be reached, started to run, but his pants dropped and tripped him up.

. . . .

When other officers arrived, they cut off the burning patch of cloth and arrested Mr. Franklin.
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