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MJ mayor set to appear in court
Apr 06, 2004 12:00 am
Mt. Juliet Mayor Kevin Mack has been summoned to appear in court May 5 as the result of a traffic citation filed against him, a complaint filed by a Georgia man Mack cited for a traffic violation the day before.
Mack filed a citizen's complaint against Georgia resident David Russell Gregory at 9 p.m., Tuesday, March 16.
Mt. Juliet Police Chief Kenneth Martin said Mack called for assistance using a portable city police radio to issue a citizen's complaint after he allegedly witnessed Gregory, 50, whose residence is listed on the complaint as Covington, Ga., "passing in the turning lane" on North Mt. Juliet Road near First Tennessee Bank .
Mack is a reserve officer with the city police department.
"The mayor used his portable police radio to summon a police car to stop the vehicle and issue a citation," Martin said. "He stayed behind the car until an officer intercepted, wrote a citation and the mayor signed as affiant."
The offense noted on the complaint-affidavit was "improper passing."
Martin said Gregory the next day filed a complaint against Mack.
"He said the reason he passed Mack in the turning lane was because the mayor failed to signal," Martin said.
Despite the use of the city police issue radio by Mack, Martin called the incident "an issue between two citizens."
Gregory, reached by The Lebanon Democrat at his Covington home, said he had to swerve to avoid hitting the mayor's vehicle because the mayor stopped suddenly to turn without signaling.
Gregory said he was on the way to spend the night with his daughter and son-in-law when he noticed he was being followed.
Gregory said he finally stopped and asked Mack why he was following him, with Mack responding that Gregory had made an illegal driving maneuver.
"I asked him if he was a police officer, and he said 'As a matter of fact I am,'" Gregory said of the exchange. "At 9 o'clock at night I guess the mayor there has nothing better to do than to chase down people and try to give them tickets. It's pretty Mickey Mouse … I found out afterwards he is actually a reserve officer."
Mack, however, denies the claim that he didn't use his turn signal.
"I was turning right, and as I was signaling my turn, I noticed the vehilce behind me moved into the turning lane and passed me," Mack said Sunday afternoon. "I turned off my turn signal and continued straight and asked the dispatcher to have a marked Mt. Juliet police officer issue a citation."
Mack said the driver noticed he was following him and pulled over into a parking lot off Nonaville Road to ask why.
"I said he passed me in the turn lane, and I directed a Mt. Juliet Police officer to his location to issue a citation," Mack said. "At that point in time, he indicated he passed me because had been on the road several hours and didn't feel like slowing down. He said he wanted to get to where he was going."
Gregory then pulled away with Mack still following him, Mack said. About a quarter-mile down the road, a Mt. Juliet police officer pulled Gregory over and issued a citation.
Mack believes Gregory's counterclaim is a defense against the traffic violation, and he hopes Gregory is found guilty.
Mack added any citizen could file a complaint when he or she witness a traffic violation.
"(A)ny citizen witnessing a violation can call the police and issue a citiation to the offender," he said. "There's nothing unique that I did that any citizen couldn't do with a cell phone."
Martin said citations stemming from citizen complaints are "a pretty common practice".
The May court date was set after Mt. Juliet City Judge John Gwin recused himself from the traffic court case. The case will be heard by General Session Judge Barry Tatum in the Mt. Juliet court chambers.
Gwin did not return a telephone call to his Mt. Juliet law office for this story. Gregory said he plans to come to Mt. Juliet for the court date.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin and Staff Writer J.K. Devine contributed to this story.