Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Weird Crime Wednesday: There's No Such Thing 'Home Base' in a Drunk Chase

(photo @ wikipedia)

Lake Charles, Louisiana

On January 23 of 2014, police received a 911 call about an erratic driver. The caller, who you can listen to here, claimed that a white convertible in front of him was weaving in and out of both lanes, speeding through school zones, and had even tried turning the wrong way onto the interstate.

Four police officers responded to the call, pursuing White Lightning for a short distance until the driver pulled into a driveway...her driveway. This is the part where things really get weird.

When the incident was initially reported, the driver of the White Lighting was revealed to be a federal judge by the name of Patricia Head Minaldi. She's apparently a big enough deal to have her own Wikipedia page and has received glowing reviews on the judge rating site, 'Robing Room.'

Minaldi may also be a Jedi, evidence by the fact that she was inexplicably served only with an open container citation in a situation where most people would reasonably expect to get a DUI/DWI.

Showing a dogged determination that most local news stations only reserve for stories about what foods are killing you, NBC affiliate KPLC-TV began digging into the case. Initially, their requests for the dash cam video and 911 recording related to the incident were denied. That, along with the Lake Charles city attorney calling the case "routine", made this one feel like a classic stonewalling act.

But justice (and everyone's morbid curiosity) was finally served, allowing us to witness one of the ballsiest attempts to get out of trouble with the police ever recorded. Embedded below is the dash cam from the officer who first made contact with Minaldi.

As he attempts to get her to exit White Thunder (both as a polite request and an order), the officer is firmly rebuffed on the grounds of "I'm on my property now, so ptttttthhhhhh".

This goes on for a while, with Minaldi steadfastly refusing every request to exit her car because she was on her own property.

In case you had trouble hearing the audio, KPLC-TV comes through again with a subtitled version. My personal favorite moment is when she reminds the officer threatening her with arrest to address her as 'Judge' rather than 'Miss' Minaldi.


The officers on the scene were eventually forced to pull, sorry...JUDGE Minaldi from her car. After looking inside the vehicle, they found a cup of what they believed to be white wine (which I guess is the classy choice for refreshment while driving impaired at 1:30 in the afternoon).

Around the time that all this was hitting the local news down in Louisiana, the Lake Charles Police Department suddenly realized that they also had access to the evidence that had been handed over to the local media. 

DWI charge for JUDGE Patricia Minaldi was promptly added to the existing open container violation. The date of her arraignment has not yet been released.

But whenever it is, I'm guessing that it won't interfere 

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