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Driver pleads guilty in contentious case

Jean Pierre, 62, of Fort Washington pleaded guilty Monday to speeding in the District and received 18 months unsupervised probation in a case in which he had been held for 15 hours while the D.C. police processed him on the traffic charge.

Pierre was arrested the afternoon of June 4 after passing a black Crown Victoria along northbound Interstate 295 near the police academy. The Crown Vic driver was moving slowly and straying across lane markings as he spoke on a cellphone pinned between his ear and shoulder, Pierre told officers at the scene. That driver was Assistant Police Chief Rodney Parks, who pursued Pierre and said he used his speedometer over a 1/8-mile stretch to clock Pierre doing 110 mph, according to a statement Parks made after pulling over Pierre.

Pierre, who drove a 2008 Dodge Challenger, admitted he became angry over the alleged cellphone use and said so at the scene. At the scene -- and in an interview with The Washington Post -- Pierre also conceded that he had sped, although he disputed the 110 mph in a 50 mph zone. He pleaded guilty to a charge of speeding more than 30 miles over a posted limit.

"The treatment after the arrest remains the issue," Pierre said Monday after his plea. Pierre said he has filed a complaint with the independent Office of Police Complaints over his custody, in which he was moved from a local police station in Anacostia to a processing site downtown. He did not have access to medication he takes daily for chronic problems, to food or to much water, and at one point passed out in a police van and had to be hospitalized before his eventual release, hospital bills confirm.

Gwendolyn Crump, a District police spokeswoman, on Monday said "we have no comment at this time," when asked about the case and the alleged cellphone use by Parks.

Police and firefighters are exempt from the District's hands-free driving law in cases of emergencies, but Chief Cathy L. Lanier has issued a policy saying officers should not be using their cellphones without a handsfree device. "She has made it clear they should operate under the same rules that citizens do," according to Lt. Nicholas Breul, also a department spokesman, who described that policy in response to a story in August about Pierre's arrest.

--Mary Pat Flaherty

By Mary Pat Flaherty  | September 20, 2010; 6:13 PM ET
Categories:  Cathy L. Lanier, From the Courthouse, Mary Pat Flaherty, Maryland, Pr. George's, The District, Updates  
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