Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pedestrian safety event leads to citations, violations and arrest - Gazette

Police issued 16 citations and 29 seatbelt violations last week during the annual Multijurisdictional Holiday Pedestrian Safety Initiative at New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard. The event also led to a police-involved shooting and subsequent arrest by Montgomery County Police.

Two drivers were cited for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, one was cited for running a red light and 16 were cited for speeding, according to C-SAFE Program Director Mary Kendall. Officers from Prince George's and Montgomery counties participated, along with Takoma Park police.

C-SAFE, a local crime prevention group, also issued 313 warnings with police to pedestrians in the area cautioning against jaywalking or other dangerous habits in the busy intersection.

Erwin H. Mack, executive director of the Takoma/Langley Crossroads Development Authority, reprised his role as Santa Claus at the event, joining about 30 volunteers from the nearby University of Maryland and other local youth programs to help increase awareness about the need for safety near the dangerous intersection.

"The essence was always to educate people about safety [precautions]," he said. "We don't need people dying or getting hurt because of foolishness."

The event began with a brief press conference at the crossroads at noon, with attendees including Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, Takoma Park Police Chief Ronald Ricucci and Prince George's County Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton, followed by enforcement and awareness activities by police and volunteers.

The education and enforcement initiative was interrupted by a traffic stop that evolved into a more serious infraction.

At about 1:23 p.m., Montgomery County Officer Francis McDonough initiated a traffic stop as part of the event, pulling over a vehicle in the 9100 block of September Lane. The driver made a U-turn and tried to hit the officer, who fired on the vehicle as it sped away, according to Montgomery County Police.

A Germantown man identified as Babajide Vidal was arrested Dec. 5 in Gaithersburg by members of a Montgomery County Police Special Assignment Team in connection with the incident.

Kendall said the incident was the result of an increased level of enforcement at the event, saying police presence at the pedestrian safety event was not noticeably impacted.

"We don't really know anything about [the suspect]," she said. "The point is that we improved the safety of the community and, if anything, because the police pulled him over they enhanced public safety."

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