Charges dropped for man cited for giving panhandler money
Driver ticketed for giving money to Cleveland panhandler gets $344 littering charge dropped | cleveland.com
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The city dropped its charges against the driver who stopped and gave a few bucks to a panhandler at a busy interchange May 17 -- only to be handed a $344 ticket for littering by a Cleveland cop.
"I'm happy it's done. It's over and they dropped it," driver John Davis, 42, of Elyria, said after the decision in Cleveland Municipal Court.
"It's the city's decision that money is not trash," Assistant City Prosecutor Jonathan Cudnik said in court this morning.
The case has drawn national attention, with news organizations from U.S. News & World Report to the Washington Post picking up the Associated Press story. Davis, a heating and air conditioning technician who was working the day he was pulled over, was surrounded by reporters after the case was dismissed this morning.
The Lorain Morning Journal website reported that Davis said the man was holding a sign that read, "Jesus loves you, please help." The site also said that Davis had hired the law firm of Sidoti & Sidoti to represent him today as he appeared before Judge Angela Stokes.
Cleveland police spokeswoman Jennifer Ciaccia said there is a city law that says drivers cannot give money to solicitors from a vehicle on any city street because it is a safety issue.
She also said police discourage panhandling and people giving money to people on the street because the money oftentimes money goes to alcohol and drugs.
Ciaccia said she would recommend that people "contribute to an advocacy group."
In 2009, the group Downtown Cleveland Alliance kicked off a "Don't Give Where it Can't Help" program to steer would-be givers to churches and social service organizations instead of directly to panhandlers.
Ciaccia also defended the officer, Cleveland policeman Joe Cavanagh. "I donít think the policeman deserves to be shredded," Ciaccia said. "People make mistakes. He wrote the wrong code.Ē
According to the Associated Press, Cleveland police had said the panhandler, who was in a wheelchair, was at a busy intersection during rush hour on May 17, and it's illegal to solicit or give money at the side of a roadway.
But Davis was instead cited for littering from a vehicle, which carries a bigger fine. Ciaccia said she could not talk about why the officer handed out the littering ticket.
The man in the wheelchair was not cited for panhandling, but he has been many times in the past at the same spot and along other roadways, Ciaccia said.
I don't necessarily disagree with citing the driver, but it just seems like littering wasn't the most appropriate charge. Found this interesting, though.
Not the best way to roust bums - cite the citizen do-gooder.
Repeated and frequent field FIs with pat-down and voluntary search of possessions goes a long way toward gaining city support and having the bo's go to a different place (following the path of least resistance).
We have a problem with panhandling here as well. I agree with what they're trying to do by making panhandling illegal and by making it illegal to give money to panhandlers, but I also think a $344 dollar ticket is a little out of line. It's nice to hear they came to their senses and dropped the charges!
I just really disagree with this new wave of making it illegal to help your fellow man. I wish I could find it again, but there was an article not too long ago about a Florida county where you can no longer give food to the homeless. That particular law could broadly be interpreted for it to be illegal for a mother to give her child a sandwich at the park. I know that many homeless do use the money for drugs or alcohol, but if you were living on the street A) how much do you think a couple of dollars is going to do for a person, and B) if you were living on the street don't you think you might look forward to a drink to help you sleep on the hard concrete under a bridge?