Video: After emotional traffic stop, Mich. officers set up TV for elderly driver

The man explained that he had bought the TV for his ill wife, but couldn't figure out how to get it working


By Frank Witsil
Detroit Free Press

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. — Sterling Heights police officers went beyond the call of duty last week, after pulling over a man in a Buick suspected of speeding.

The motorist apologized, the officer asked him what was going on, and the emotionally shaken resident replied that he was in distress, was having a terrible day and began sobbing.

Instead of writing the man a ticket, the officer promised to help him.

The department, which thought what happened might be worthy to report, shared video of the incident Wednesday with the Free Press and other news outlets because it reveals "another side of law enforcement," Lt. Mario Bastianelli said.

"That's us going the extra mile to take care of our residents, and it shows that there's a compassionate side to us," the public information officer said. "People do get breaks and we do things outside of our job duties to help out people."

In fact, Bastianelli added, it happens more often than people realize in cities nationwide. And in this case, the officers never would have mentioned what they did because they were just doing the right thing." It was his decision to publicize it.

Two separate videos taken from the squad car dash cam show what went down.

At about 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30, Officer Kevin Coates stopped the man — whose full name was withheld from the news release at the request of the Sterling Heights resident — on Mound Road and 18½ mile.

"I'm really sorry, officer," the 79-year-old said, after getting out of his car. "Everything is going wrong today."

Coates said told the man he was sorry to hear that, and suggested they move out of the road. The resident told Coates his wife was "real sick," and that their adult son is "mentally ill," and then started crying.

The resident explained he had just bought a new TV and wanted to hook it up to make his wife happy, but was struggling. He had been driving to different stores to get help, but couldn't get the help he needed.

Coates said he — and his partner — might be able to assist him.

He gave the resident a warning about his speed, and said — if the resident wanted — he'd try to connect his TV for him. About an hour later, he was at the resident's home with two other officers, Remi Verougstraete and Jeremy Jakushevich.

They connected the TV.

The resident said he couldn't have connected the TV on his own — and was grateful.

Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski praised his officers, adding that he was proud of them.

Said Bastianelli: "Our officers did an outstanding job," adding that it also was a chance to show what police do. "A lot of times the good things don't get publicized, and this is just another good thing we want to public to see."

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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