Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Today's Sigh

You may have seen this story pop up somewhere.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A 73-year-old man who received a $5 jaywalking ticket after he was struck by a car later died from his injuries, police said Monday.

Charles Atherton, a former secretary of the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts that advises the government on architecture and design in official Washington, was hit Thursday while crossing busy Connecticut Avenue. He died Saturday night at George Washington University Hospital.

Although witnesses said he was badly injured and unresponsive at the scene, police issued him the ticket. His family found it with his belongings when they went to the hospital.

"We knew it was a serious injury, but we didn't know it was life-threatening," police Capt. Willie Smith told The Washington Post in a story for Tuesday editions. He said officers would not have issued the ticket "if we knew he was going to die."
Capt. Smith's remark struck me as perfectly silly. Does he mean to say that police will only issue jay walking tickets to badly injured unconscious persons who might live and let badly injured unconscious persons who might die get off with a warning? Do the police have to certain that the injured person will die before they will grant a pass? What if the injured person doesn't die? Can the police ticket him later while he's recovering?

This is a tragic case, and I don't mean to make light of it. But any cop who would write up a $5 ticket and then stuff in the injured guy's pocket while his live ebbed away is a far more cynical human being than I.

Disgraceful, really.

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