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Charges against motorist dropped when Pr. George's officer fails to appear in court

Ruben Castaneda

Richard L. Sheffield went to Prince George's District Court in Upper Marlboro on Monday prepared to fight charges that he drove with an illegally tinted windshield, that he drove with a mutilated license, and that he was disorderly.

Sheffield had hired an attorney, Darrell Robinson. He had an inspection document from Maryland State Police attesting that his windshield's tint was legal. And he had a witness -- a friend who saw his encounter with the police officer, prepared to testify that Sheffield's license was fine when he handed it to the officer.

The charges were dismissed by District Court Judge Jean S. Baron when county Officer Paul Scheinsburg, who arrested Sheffield and swore out the charging document against him, did not appear for the scheduled trial.

Schweinsburg did not return a phone message left for him at the Clinton police district, where he works as a patrol officer.

The midafternoon incident occurred in Clinton last Feb. 22, according to the charging document.

The officer alleged that he was driving ahead of Sheffield, who was in a GMC sport utility vehicle, when Sheffield flashed his high beams.

The officer wrote that he was unsure why Sheffield had flashed his high beams, and speculated that maybe he needed help.

After noticing the front windshield of the SUV was too dark to see the driver -- an apparent violation of Maryland law -- Schweinsburg activated his lights to conduct a traffic stop, and caught up with Sheffield after he pulled to the side of gas pumps at a 7-Eleven store.

Sheffield yelled an obscenity and accused the officer of stopping him "because I'm black," Schweinsburg wrote in the documents.

As he tried to calm Sheffield down and close the driver's side door, the officer wrote, Sheffield stuck his leg out. Sheffield continued to yell, causing a public disturbance, Schweinsburg wrote.

In an interview, Sheffield provided a different account.

He said the officer yelled at him and his female friend, providing confusing commands. For instance, Sheffield said, the officer demanded his license and registration. "I tried to hand it to him but he wouldn't take it," Sheffield said.

Sheffield said he was sitting in the vehicle with his left leg near where the door closes when Schweinsburg slammed the door shut.

The console hit his knee, Sheffield said. "I screamed because it hurt," Sheffield said. "The door didn't close, and he shoved it."

Sheffield said he and his friend both called 911, and Schweinsburg called for backup. Additional officers arrived, and Schweinsburg arrested Sheffield. Sheffield, of Upper Marlboro, said his driver's license was fine when he handed it to Schweinsburg but was badly bent when the officer returned it.

Sheffield said he spent about two hours at the county jail in Upper Marlboro and was released on his own recognizance.

-- Ruben Castaneda

By Ruben Castaneda  |  May 25, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda  
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No mention that Richard L. Sheffield appears frequently in Maryland online court records, including being the subject of a restraining order for domestic violence?

Looks like a hothead got lucky and dodged a conviction this time. But he'll probably be arrested the next time he gets pulled over and blows up.....

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | May 25, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

The sad thing is that Mr. Sheffield was booked, fingerprinted, had his picture is now in some database and all because an out of control officer was on his cycle. I'll say it again, the police force is the worse "gang" in the World and they can't be stopped....

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | May 25, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

No mention that Richard L. Sheffield appears frequently in Maryland online court records, including being the subject of a restraining order for domestic violence?

Looks like a hothead got lucky and dodged a conviction this time. But he'll probably be arrested the next time he gets pulled over and blows up.....

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | May 25, 2010 9:53 AM
But, where does it say that he's been abusive towards police officers? And check the records of the officer also, before you defend these "gang members".

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | May 25, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Maryland online court records show that the defendant was the subject of a restraining order in a domestic violence case. Perhaps that sheds some light on his true character?

Or is it impermissible to cite public records on this web site that attest to a person's character (unless they have the politically desirable effect of disparaging police officers)?

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | May 25, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

fire the cop

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | May 25, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Why is this considered a news story?

Posted by: InquiringMind1 | May 25, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Classic Ruben Castaneda. I bet if you interview most of the people I've arrested in my carreer they'll make themselves out to be victims too.

Posted by: blank08 | May 25, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Lucky break for Sheffield. Had the officer been there, he would have been guilty as charged!!

Posted by: rpcv84 | May 25, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Considering the fact that the Officer did not show up, I'm going to accept Mr. Sheffield's version of the events.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 25, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to hear this young man Richard L. Sheffield won his case! I went to MD Public record site, there were all NOLLE PROSEQUI, for this young man; he doesn’t have a criminal record -- for the idiot who made that comment; you're just an complete idiot! Way to go Rich -

Posted by: piety36 | May 25, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

missed it b/c he's guilty! no brainer.

Posted by: ColoredSpirit | May 25, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

It never stops PG Police Officer using excessive force. This is unacceptable. PG Police Officer Schweinsburg need to be “fired” ASAP and never be allowed to work in any law enforcement arena period. This is clearly "police brutality" – we don’t need dirty cops like Schweinburg working on our PG Police force with this type of behavior "fire him" right NOW!

Posted by: piety36 | May 25, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Think this officer's court absence was more than just a little "coincidental?" ;-0

Posted by: ntlekt | May 25, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Another day in the 'County'...been this way and worse for over 60 years. And race almost doesn't matter now, only the color 'blue' because you can get it from any cop nowadays.

Posted by: kahlua87 | May 25, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

This is news? I guess that was a little more overboard than experiences I've had, but getting stopped for no apparent reason, getting a bogus traffic ticket, and having the police officer not show up for court is not at all unusual.

I had a problem with a bogus ticket once in Howard County, too, and the case was dropped even though the police officer did show up. I was taken to the police station in that case because I had been in a car accident and didn't have a cell phone at the time, though everyone else did and no one would help me. A man was yelling that I was at fault in spite of the fact that there was a car behind me that had a pushed back hood. It was a ludicrous case, but I'm not black. I did wonder if it had to do with the fact I'm a woman, but I think it had more to do with the attitude of the guy in the car in front of me.

The 2-hrs. this man spent at the county jail shouldn't have happened. It could have been racially motivated. I've learned that it doesn't pay to take a lawyer to traffic court, but it's possible that African Americans, especially young men, have more to be concerned about than a white middle-aged woman.

Posted by: JoyceD | May 26, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

When I hear reports like this one, it makes me extremely angry that Police Officers, in my county, patrolling my area, performs in this manner is utterly ridiculous. Officer Schweinsburg, clearly shows guilt – that’s the reason he did not show up for the court appearance, he didn’t want to be cross examined by Mr. Sheffield lawyer and be caught in his own big fat lie; what a coward AZZ! Officers like him make the entire Police force look bad!

It’s such a shame that this “pig” Officer Schsweinburg, who works out of the Clinton, MD District in PG County; spent unnecessary PG taxes payer’s dollars for his stupidity, and ignorance for arresting this young man for nothing! Oh’ that’s right; the “pig” is a stupid ROOKIE, who needs to be terminated from the PG Police force, for his malicious orchestrated act he committed on Sheffield. Sounds like assault to me, by shoving the car door causing injury to Sheffield. The “pig” clearly, displays he doesn’t know, what the MD state tint laws are, and he needs to go back through the academy, to be retrained; take the anger management class 101 for about 2-years once her successfully passed, then honor him with a crossing guard job!

Posted by: piety36 | May 26, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Glad to here it went in Richard Sheffield favor, he fought it, and won; --victory for him thumbs up! The police officer needs to be “fired” – and arrested for what he did. He needs to see how it feels when you break the law -- commit a crime, let him sit in jail without bond, until his court date come, teaching him a lesson. Oh’ give him a public defendant lawyer, who doesn’t dirty cops!

Posted by: piety36 | May 26, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

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