Clearwater, Fla (The Weekly Vice) -- A Clearwater Florida police officer arrested, booked and jailed a 75 year old grandmother after she failed to move her car forward in a McDonald's drive thru.
Jean Merola, a grandmother of eight had placed an order (unsalted fries) that required a few additional minutes to prepare. Merola said that the employees of the restaurant instructed her to wait.
After a a few moments, an officer pulled up behind her and started honking his horn, she said. He was also waving his arms, apparently signaling for her to move her car, she said.
When the granny failed to reply, the officer Matthew Parco, approached Merola's Lincoln Towncar and asked for her license and registration. Words were exchanged which prompted the officer to call for backup and proceed with the arrest.
The grandmother was searched, handcuffed behind her back and taken directly to Pinellas County Jail where she was charged and booked for "Disorderly Conduct". She was processed and then released about 90 minutes later.
The arrest affidavit states that Merola's car was 'partially blocking' the drive-through lanes. It also stated that the officer asked Mrs Merola three times to move her car forward a foot to allow cars behind her to pass. After refusing, Merola yelled at Parco for about 20 minutes, calling him a "brat,'' and other various rebukes.
The grandmother admits to arguing with the officer, but claims that she could not move her car forward because there was a curb in front of her car. "I got upset because he honked his horn at me,'' Merola explained. "You know, it's only normal for you to get upset when somebody honks a horn at you when you're not doing anything.''
The Weekly Vice Reaction:
In this round, I call it a draw. The grandmother admits to arguing with the officer for some time. If she felt she couldn't pull her car forward, she could have gotten out of the car to see exactly where the officer did want her to move the car to.
On the other hand, it's pretty apparent that the officer created the entire issue to begin with. I think he overstepped his bounds for a number of reasons. First, he was apparently a customer on private property. If the restaurant had ordered the lady to stay put, the officer would have accomplished more by taking the matter to the store manager.
There are no laws that I'm aware of which instruct citizens where to wait for their fries. The woman may be guilty of rudeness or perhaps aloofness, however she isn't violating a traffic law by staying put where the restaurant requested that she stay.
The officer was inpatient and therefor aggravated the situation, forcing a citizen to either cow-tow to his impatience or stand their ground and endure the consequences.
There have been several incidences of wacky officer entanglements that have come out of Florida in the past few months. We are fairly certain that this matter will be dropped, as Florida police departments have been fairly responsive to stories like this who hit the news.
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