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Let’s Go To The Videotape!

by Thomas MacMillan | Oct 26, 2012 11:30 am

(15) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Legal Writes, Transportation

After protestors outside Crown Towing accused the operation of swindling a mother and daughter out of $158, the company’s lawyer shot back by accusing the two women of trying to pull a fast one and starting a fight.

Click above to watch the episode and see what happened.

Crown’s attorney, Noah Eisenhandler, released two surveillance clips of the tow lot, recorded on Monday night, when the mother and daughter were arrested. One clip shows the daughter trying to remove her car from the lot while a pregnant Crown receptionist blocks her way. The second clip shows a fight erupting between the receptionist—in the white hoody—and the mother and daughter.

In an email, Eisenhandler responded Thursday to accusations that a tow truck driver from Crown Towing had taken $158 from Rojonna Handy with the understanding that her outstanding tax debt was then settled, then towed her car anyway. Handy said the driver gave her a business card as a receipt for the transaction.

Handy and her mom, Robyn, took the business card to to Crown Towing on Crown Street on Monday to try to pick up Rojonna’s 2005 PT Cruiser. They were unsuccessful, got into a dispute with an pregnant receptionist and were arrested for assault.

On Wednesday, Rojonna and Robyn returned, with two dozen protestors, to accuse Crown Towing of fraud and to call for the city to end it’s contract with the company. Crown has an exclusive contract to tow cars with outstanding taxes due.

In attorney Eisenhandler’s email, he tells a different story of what happened. He said the business card (pictured in photo) was never a receipt. It was simply a reminder of how much Rojonna owed. Someone wrote the letters “pd” in front of the dollar amount, to try to make it look like it was a receipt that indicated the amount had been paid, Eisenhandler said.

What’s more, Eisenhandler went on, Rojonna has been driving the car with a suspended registration and no insurance since January. And another towing company, York, had an order to repossess the car for non-payment of an auto loan, Eisenhandler said.

Here’s what Eisenhandler said happened:

“On September 20, 2012, using the boot finder system installed in tow trucks, the tow operator was notified that Ms. Handy’s vehicle owed a past due amount to the City of New Haven. While attempting to retrieve the vehicle pursuant to town ordinances, Ms. Handy appeared along with several other people to prevent the towing. As per company policy in order to avoid a confrontation, the vehicle was left and a business card with the amount owed written on the back was given to Ms. Handy. Ms. Handy was advised to contact the City to make arrangements to pay her debt.

“On October 22, 2012, again the boot finder system indicated Ms. Handy’s vehicle stilled owed delinquent taxes and tickets. Crown Auto Center towed Ms. Handy’s vehicle to its holding lot at approximately 8:15 p.m. Ms. Handy went to Crown Auto Center and demanded the return of her vehicle. She was advised that she must pay the past due debts before she could retrieve her vehicle. She then showed to the representative at Crown the business card from last month with the amount owed written on the back. The initials “pd” in different ink and different handwriting appears next to the number. She stated that this was proof that this money has been paid and this represents a receipt. It was explained to Ms. Handy that this was not a paid receipt. It was just an amount indicating what was owed and that had been explained to her before. The “pd” indication was not done by anyone representing Crown Auto Center.

...

“On Wednesday, October 24th Ms. Handy returned to Crown Auto Center accompanied by a police officer to retrieve her vehicle. The police officer checked the registration of the vehicle and discovered that it had a suspended registration due to no insurance since January, 2012. The police advised Ms. Handy that the vehicle could not be driven unregistered and in order to remove the vehicle from the Crown Auto Center lot the vehicle would have to be towed. The vehicle was towed from Crown Auto Center by York Towing at the direction of Ms. Handy. Unknown to Crown Auto Center and apparently unknown to Ms. Handy, York Towing was in possession of an order to repossess the vehicle issued by the lender for non-payment of the auto loan. Ms Handy’s loss of her vehicle was caused by her actions and not that of Crown Auto Center.

“Ms. Handy is familiar with this process. In 2010 her vehicle was towed by Crown Auto Center for past due taxes and tickets owed to the City.

“No one likes their vehicle being towed. However, it is a necessary requirement in order to collect monies owed to the City.

“Due to the efforts of Crown Auto Center along with the Tax Department, the City’s rate of collection of past due taxes and tickets has never been higher.”

A relevant state law states: “Sec. 53a-20. Use of physical force in defense of premises. A person in possession or control of premises, or a person who is licensed or privileged to be in or upon such premises, is justified in using reasonable physical force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of a criminal trespass by such other person in or upon such premises…”

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posted by: cp06 on October 26, 2012  11:39am

it would be helpful if you could identify who’s who in the video. i.e. what color clothes are the mother and daughter wearing vs the towing worker

[Ed.: The towing company receptionist is wearing the white hoody.]

posted by: Long Time NH Resident on October 26, 2012  12:22pm

The women in the white hoody is obviously the employee as she is seen standing in front of the car in the later part of the video.

If you look closely, after the daughter puts her foot in the gate, the women (worker) grabs her (that’s assault) and then pushes the mother (that is also assault) THEN the brawl breaks out. The police need to put on their glasses and watch the tape this time. If they don’t arrest the worker, in addition to the mother daughter, for starting the physical part of the altercation, then there is something wrong with how this is being handled.

Not saying that the overreaction of physically attacking the worker is condoned, just saying look who started it.

The facts of the situation are very enlightening as they pertain to the history of the payment and debt situation. Come on- at least use the same color ink if your going to forge a document.

The video shows that the worker made the first move- physically. If this happened in City Hall- the worker would have been arrested too.

Like I’ve said- non-violence in the work place is posted all through City Hall why does this not apply to vendors?

posted by: Anderson Scooper on October 26, 2012  1:24pm

@Long Time—

I dunno if I agree with you, at all.

The daughter clearly starts the physicality in a fairly aggressive way. Sure the Crown employee might have handled things a little bit better, but I was amazed my the overall restraint shown by the two employees, as they were quickly forced into the role of “bouncers”.

posted by: formerNhresident on October 26, 2012  1:55pm

According to the above mentioned state law the two women were trespassing and the employee had a legal right to defend herself and the premises.

posted by: robn on October 26, 2012  2:03pm

In Connecticut, citizen’s are allowed to use non-deadly force to affect the arrest of someone who has committed a felony or misdemeanor like, in this case, trespass.

posted by: Long Time NH Resident on October 26, 2012  2:09pm

mr. scooper

ok Edward, look at how she grabs that girls neck and hair and then shoves the mother. The tape doesn’t lie.I don’t know what your seeing- sticking her foot in the gate is not assault-close, but its not, grabbing someone by the neck is, so is shoving someone. AFTER THAT is when they assaulted the worker, although the pursuing, prolonged attack is unwarranted and yes they are rightfully arrested for that.
Just saying fair is fair. All three should have been arrested and the Court can figure it out. Seems like favoritism to the vendor cause I’m sure they know most of the cops.

Never confuse restraint with laziness, that guy just stood there and watched.

posted by: NhRes on October 26, 2012  2:51pm

First off Long Time NH Resident the worker could not have pulled the girl by her hair because if you had seen her mug shot the girl has a short hair cut.  Secondly the two women were trespassing and the worker asked them to leave and had the right to get them off of the property.  I saw no excessive force taken by the worker but you seemed to overlook the girl trying to hit/run the worker over with the car in question.  And lastly lets take a step back and ask ourselves why the car was there in the first place? Because of the girl’s unwillingness to pay her taxes (and now we find out tickets, insurance, suspended registration, and car payment).  Had she paid her bills on time like the rest of us responsible New Haven residents her car would not have been there in the first place; and that is the conversation her mother should have had with her rather than bringing her down there to create a scene.

posted by: Long Time NH Resident on October 26, 2012  4:18pm

ok when your wrong your wrong.

I did not see the last paragraph when I read the article the first time about the Statute and was unaware of it. Then again the NHPD didn’t always take that Statute into consideration in years past.

If you read my other posts you can see I do not condone their assault nor their actions before, during or after the incident.

I stand corrected.

posted by: AyJoe on October 26, 2012  4:28pm

At long last we get to see the video! 

Not sure what some folks are saying here regarding the worker beginning the assault; it seems clear that the crown employee was trying to lock the gates, and then a second woman runs into the scene knocking her hand off the gate, therefore making aggressive contact first.

When I watch this it doesn’t look like the crown employee begins it at all.  After they speak for a few moments, then the worker attempts to push them outside of the gate, which would fall under the trespassing blurb at the end.

I think the term bouncer in one of the comments above is fitting.  While the crown employees aren’t bouncers, they clearly attempted to get them off the property.  If a bouncer at a club tells you to leave and you don’t they can physically remove you from the property; that’s not assault.

posted by: Threefifths on October 26, 2012  4:40pm

If you look at the video tape.You will she the receptionist blocks her way and is trying to close the gate.looks like the girl started the fight.I think at this point take it to court and let a jury deal with this.

posted by: Threefifths on October 26, 2012  5:06pm

posted by: Long Time NH Resident on October 26, 2012 12:22pm

If you look closely, after the daughter puts her foot in the gate, the women (worker) grabs her (that’s assault) and then pushes the mother (that is also assault) THEN the brawl breaks out.

If you look at the tape the women worker is trying to close the gate.The girl has her foot at the gate to try and stop the women worker fron closing the gate.If you look at the tape it looks like the women worker is trying to close the gate and then the girl is attacking her.But here is my question if the mother and daughter are in the church how come they didnot follow what there bible says.

Matthew 5:38-39

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

posted by: darnell on October 27, 2012  12:21pm

This debate just shows you how unreliable witness testimony is, even with a video.

What I see—
A woman on the phone (#1),
another woman aggressively attempting to close a gate on her (#2),
another woman running over and putting her foot in the gate (#3),
a man doing absolutely nothing (#4),
a very young lady in distress (#5), 
#2 attempting to push #3 out of the gate,
#4 doing absolutely nothing,
#3 pushing back,
#4 doing absolutely nothing,
#1 trying to intervene and separate #2 and #3
#4 doing absolutely nothing
#2 throwing the first punch
#3 punching back
#1 caught in the middle, getting it from both ends
#2 and #3 really throwing blows now
#1 decides to get in a few herself
# 4 now locking the gate, leaving a #5 distressed and on her own
#s 1,2, and 3 off camera now
#4 doing absolutely nothing

Even though I think something fishy is going on with Crown Towing (why did they try to dispose of the business card? why didn’t they call the police immediately if they thought the customers were in the wrong?), I don’ think these ladies have a chance with our corrupted legal system as it is now set up.

I hope I’m wrong.

posted by: just my view on October 27, 2012  6:17pm

What I see is a Reverend who doesn’t know how to admit he’s been mislead by parishoners and continues to lie to the press any time a camera is in his face. These are NOT innocent people in any regard. They tried to game the system again and got caught again.

I also wish there was video of the 9/20 incident: “Ms. Handy appeared along with several other people to prevent the towing.” - I’m sure she wasn’t has civil as she has been trying to present her self as.

posted by: Threefifths on October 27, 2012  6:40pm

As I said before the city can do like New York is doing.New York they do not Tow your car. Booting is an enforcement tool used instead of towing.If you owe more than $350 in parking, red light camera or bus lane violation tickets in judgment and you are parked on a public street, you may have a boot attached to your vehicle. To get the boot off, call the toll-free phone number on the boot notice and give the customer service representative your debit/credit card number. You will then receive a release code. Once you enter the code, the boot will unlock and you can remove it.You need to return the boot to a return location near you within 24 hours.

Read the whole program here.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/pdf/12pdf/booting_faq.pdf

posted by: Edward_H on October 27, 2012  11:59pm

OK is no one going to give 3/5’s props for giving you guys the inspiration for the headline!

posted by: Threefifths on October 25, 2012 10:17am

As Warner Wolf would say.“Let’s go to the videotape!”

For shame NHI!


[Editor: Props to 3/5ths for the headline!]

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