From barbecues to fireworks, the 4th of July is typically a day for celebration and fun. However, it’s also one of the busiest days of the year for law enforcement, who are tasked with reeling in the drunk and belligerent. Here are five times people took their Independence Day celebrations too far….
1. Guitarist Arrested for Playing National Anthem on Florida Beach
On July 4, 2015, Lance Pittman had just started playing the patriotic tune in front of a friend’s home when a Neptune Beach police officer told him to get out of the street or he’d be arrested. According to News4Jax, the 22-year-old moved to a sidewalk, where his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” attracted an audience of 200. “I don’t think I ever played that song as good in my life as I did on that day. It felt right. It was an emotional roller-coaster,” Pittman said.
However, police were less than thrilled by the performance. Video footage shows officers approaching the guitarist and asking to speak with him, before Pittman claims he was told to: “Spread your legs. Put your hands behind your back.” Police Chief David Sembach claimed Pittman was hauled off to quell the “hostile” crowd. “Out of respect for the national anthem, they let them finish the National Anthem,” he said.
Though he claims he was threatened with an inciting a riot charge, Pittman was charged with breach of peace and notified to appear in court. [News4Jax]
2. Independence Day Streaking Leads to Arrest of Nebraska Man
Police say a Norfolk, Nebraska, man was jailed for walking the streets in the buff on the 4th of July. Derek Predroza had already had one interaction with cops that day, allegedly hurling threats while chasing their car (though he was clothed at the time), according to KTIV. This time around, he came out of a nearby home and was sitting on a manhole cover completely naked. The 27-year-old was arrested for disturbing the peace and held in the Madison County Jail. [KTIV]
3. South Carolina Beachgoers Caught on Tape Attacking Cops in July 4th Brawl
On Independence Day 2012, multiple people were jailed for attacking police officers while they arrested a suspect on Folly Beach. Video footage shows a crowd yelling “U-S-A” at a cop while he struggled with a suspect. Police Chief Dennis Brown described a chaotic scene to WISTV, in which busloads of people had arrived at the beach where a DJ had set up. The drunk (and mostly) teenage mob became violent with cops, allegedly throwing beer at them and striking them with whiffle-ball bats.
“Fists were flying. People were hitting the ground,” a witness said. Though five officers were injured, police managed to arrest eight people — one of whom who was Tased — who were behind the mayhem. The assailants were jailed on a myriad of charges, from violating city ordinances to disorderly conduct.
“It turned into a much better situation by the end of the whole incident,” Brown said. “A lot of folks down there just want to come to the beach and enjoy themselves.” [WISTV]
4. New Jersey Man Jailed For Refusing To Disassemble 100-Firework Pyrotechnic DisplayCops arrested a Sparta, New Jersey, man for allegedly refusing to take apart a pyrotechnic display designed to set off fireworks. Police arrived at Bujar Xhudo’s home after a report came in that he was setting up fireworks. The display, which Lieutenant John Paul-Beebe described to NJ Advance Media as “extensive,” involved more than 100 explosive devices attached to an electronic controller.
Officer Timothy Lynott explained the hazards associated with such a setup, but the 52-year-old allegedly wouldn’t disassemble it. He explained to Sergeant Keith Hannam that the fireworks were for a large party he was hosting. Xhudo was arrested for failure to comply and charged with unlawful possession of fireworks. After consulting the New Jersey State Police Bomb Squad, Sparta police and firefighters destroyed the device. [NJ Advance Media]
5. California Driver Accused Of Attempting To Mow Down People On Beach
A California man was arrested on the holiday for allegedly driving his SUV through a barrier and onto the sand before attempting to strike families who had gathered to celebrate on Mission Beach. According to 10 News, witness Mark Wagner claimed a crowd followed Villiami Pomale and were telling him to stop, but he responded with an “F—- you” and kept going. Wagner said the 45-year-old hit someone before driving into Sali Bay where he was surrounded by police. “It was surreal. I just thank God there was nobody run over here because he could have easily killed somebody,” Wagner commented.
Pomale was arrested and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, driving under the influence, and hit-and-run. [10 News]
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