At 9pm I went to eat dinner and read journal articles on my IPAD at El Ama’s restaurant in Austin, TX. I turned into the parking lot behind the restaurant and turned to the right. Continuing on the same angle I pulled into a parking spot, now facing the street and on a slight cross slope, wheels cocked to the right. The lot is a grass. sand covered lot, with some gravel. I left the car and went into the restaurant, what I didn’t realize, I forgot to set my parking break on my standard 2000 BMW Coupe.
At 9:50pm, while I was sitting at the bar eating, I received a call from my neighbors telling me that the police were looking for me. They said that the police told them that I had been in an accident and I was nowhere to be found. I jumped up from the bar thinking that my car had been stolen. I didn’t fully believe that my car wouldn’t be anywhere but where I left it. In bewilderment I went outside and saw the police parked on the side of the rode. I went up to the officer, officer Novak who was sitting in her squad car and asked her what happened. My car was lodged in the back of someone’s pick up truck in the parking lot just down the hill from where I parked. My first thought was that someone stole my car and drove it into another vehicle, or that it had been hit where it was parked and ended up in the back of someone’s car. I had no idea how it got there. Then it dawned on me that I might have forgotten to set my parking brake. I looked in the locked car and saw the car in neutral and the parking brake off.
I assumed that my car at some point during the course of my dinner lost its footing and rolled into the street. As soon as it went into the street it picked up speed on the hill and rolled back into the parking lot and hit the truck. I’m still uncertain if some kids may have noticed the parking break was office and pushed it. But I do not know for certain.
Thinking this was all that happen, I was glad there were no injuries and only minor bumps and bruises to the guy’s 1-ton Chevy truck. But this was just the beginning.
The Austin Police begins to interrogate me. They said that I left the scene of the accident and ran into the restaurant.
Officer 1: “We all know you are lying. You came down the hill too fast, ran into the back of this truck, and then ran into the restaurant.”
ME: “Absolutely not, I would not run into someone’s car then run into the restaurant.”
Officer 1: “You’re lying, we have witnesses that saw you.”
ME: “What Witnesses?”
Officer 1: “Come on Robert, we know you drove into this man’s truck and left the scene.”
ME: “I did not, I was in the restaurant eating the entire time. You can ask the bartender. The bartender knows me. If you are accusing me of driving into someone’s truck, I’m not saying anything else without an attorney.”
Officer Anderson: “You have anything to drink tonight.”
Me: “I drank some tequila.”
Officer Anderson: “When was this.”
ME: “I’m currently drinking it, I’m in the restaurant right now eating my dinner.”
Officer 1: “What time did you say you got to the restaurant?”
ME: “About 9PM.”
Officer Anderson: “Are you on drugs?”
Officer Anderson: “Stop Chewing Gum.”
Me: “I’m not chewing gum.”
Officer Anderson: “Open your mouth, open your mouth.”
I open my mouth. The officer shines his flash light in, doesn’t find anything. Meanwhile I noticed the other officer searching the trunk of my car. Then officer Anderson shines his flashlight on my toes. I’m wearing sandals.
Officer Anderson: “Can you run in those sandals?”
Officer 2: “How long have you had those sandals?”
Me: “Two weeks.” (I misspoke because I’ve had them for about 6 weeks. They still seemed very new to me.)
Officer Anderson: “The sandals are scratched. You’re not going to scruff the sandals in two weeks.”
ME: “Okay, but I didn’t run in the restaurant if that’s what you’re implying. Besides, I broke my pinky toe two weeks ago.”
Officer Anderson laughs in my face.
Officer Anderson: “Look, you’re not under arrest. You got off lucky. So you might as well tell us the truth.”
ME: “I told you the truth.”
Officer Anderson: “Okay, then stop talking.”
Officer Anderson: “What kind of work do you do?”
ME: “I work as a lecturer at the University of California in Landscape Architecture.”
Officer Anderson: (laugs again) “You teach architecture at the University? Hum, okay.”
Officer Anderson: “You are obviously on drugs. You need to get off the drugs. You got off lucky tonight, you’re not under arrest but whatever you’re on you need to get off it. Listen to me…”
He goes on and on about how I’m crazy, on drugs, etc. Much unnecessary verbal abuse.
ME: “Okay, thank you officer Anderson.”
Officer 1 to Officer Anderson: “The bartender said that he came in around 9pm.”
Two officers leave.
Officer Novak: “Here is the claim form for the accident.”
I go back into the restaurant to finish my meal. The girls sitting next to me at the bar told me they tried to read the article on my IPAD. One girl said I tried to get into it but it was too complicated. I told them it wasn’t light reading. She then said, no honestly, I did look at you IPAD and tried to read the article. I told her I believed her and didn’t care. As this conversation takes place the owners of the truck walk by. They said, “So that’s what happened. You were driving and reading the IPAD when you the truck.” They start bad mouthing me and the bartender, James, told them: “That’s not at all what they said. Our customer has been sitting here all night. He didn’t hit your truck.” The truck owners continue to berate me about hitting the truck. The restaurant staff had to escort them out of the restaurant. Fortunately the restaurant staff knows that I eat there often and knew at was inside the entire time the incident took place.
My lesson learned: Don’t trust the police and always keep your mouth shut. The police abuse people they should be trying to help. Instead of working with me to figure out what happened, they were trying to find ways to abuse their power. I expect police to be more professional. And don't forget to set the parking brake!