by Will Harper
Police handcuffed and hauled a Berkeley City Councilwoman's husband off to jail yesterday afternoon after he allegedly committed battery on a meter maid who issued him a $47 parking ticket. Councilwoman Linda Maio's longtime partner, Rob Browning, says he spent two hours in jail before being released on his own recognizance. Browning says he has since sent the parking officer a letter of apology, although he still thinks the ticket was "unjust and frivolous." Follow the jump to read about how Browning supposedly "battered" the parking cop.
Browning says he became angry after discovering a parking ticket for on his van's windshield yesterday for blocking the sidewalk. Browning, however, didn't believe he was blocking the sidewalk. He had parked in front of a driveway (where he has permission to park) near his home on Berkeley Way. He concedes that his van had encroached slightly onto the sidewalk, but he was careful to leave enough space for people in wheelchairs to get by.
He got in his van, found the meter maid, confronted her about the ticket and told her he was not blocking the sidewalk. According to Browning, the parking cop coolly replied that he was parked on the sidewalk. Browning tried to give back the ticket to the parking officer. When she refused, he reached over and stuck the ticket in her jacket's epaulette, "which," Browning now admits, "was a foolish thing to do, but I did it."
That may not sound like much, but putting your hands on someone else legally constitutes a misdemeanor battery, says Berkeley police department spokesman Ed Galvan. Galvan says Browning was charged with violating Penal Code 243(b).
After Browning stuck the ticket in the lady's epaulette, the parking cop called police, who surrounded Browning near his van. Browning recalls three patrol cars and a bike cop participating in his arrest.
Browning says people have suggested he take an anger management class, which he's considering. He explains that he was infuriated by what he considered the overzealousness of the ticket-writer.
Well, Rob, we can assure you that many car-owners in Berkeley have wanted to do worse to a meter maid than stick something in her epaulette. Drivers and merchants alike have long complained about the aggressiveness of Berkeley parking ticketers.
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