Order to shake hands ignored by defendant

January 28, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

It wasn't enough that Westminster Police Officer Mark A. Shobert ignored 70-year-old Ralph E. Beaver's calls to stop a car going the wrong the way down an alley last June.

And it wasn't enough that, in a mostly one-sided war of words, Mr. Beaver managed to provoke the officer into chasing him down the street, pinning him against a hardware store wall, arresting him and charging him with disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and battery.

The retired carpenter didn't flinch yesterday when Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. convicted him of disturbing the peace after his two-hour trial.

For Mr. Beaver, the moment of prime disgust came as Judge Burns ordered Officer Shobert and the defendant to shake hands.

"I wouldn't shake his hand after he beat me," Mr. Beaver said to his lawyer as the officer extended his hand to comply with the judge's request.

"I'm not going to do it."

So, in a scene reminiscent of what brought him to court in the first place, Mr. Beaver was escorted out the courthouse door in the hands of two sheriff's deputies.

The failed handshake was the third time the two had met in less than a year.

In the first meeting, Officer Shobert saw Mr. Beaver sifting through the Police Department's trash bin.

Suspecting that Mr. Beaver might be using the trash bin to discard refuse, the officer waited for him to drive away, then stopped him, testimony yesterday showed.

"He asked if I put anything in the Dumpster, and I told him no," Mr. Beaver recalled. "Then he told me, 'I can stop you any time and anywhere I want to.' "

The officer recalled the meeting differently, saying Mr. Beaver yelled at him after he was stopped.

"He was very loud," Officer Shobert said.

On the second meeting -- the incident in June -- Mr. Beaver's behavior once again attracted the attention of Officer Shobert.

At the time, testimony showed, Officer Shobert was helping two women unlock a set a keys from a car parked on Main Street.

That's when Mr. Beaver allegedly began shouting to the officer about a car going the wrong way down an alley.

The women said they recalled Mr. Beaver's "vulgar language" and said that he ignored the officer's requests to be quiet.

As Mr. Beaver continued to shout about the misguided car -- "If that had been me, you would have given me a ticket," he said -- Officer Shobert warned him that he would be arrested if he didn't keep quiet.

He didn't, so the officer approached Mr. Beaver, told him he was under arrest, and then had to chase him several blocks to a hardware store.

At the store, Mr. Beaver was pinned against a wall twice, his arms were held behind his back and he was handcuffed.

His attorney, William R. MacDonald, said the encounter required the defendant to undergo extensive rotator cuff surgery.

Mr. Beaver's injuries may be the subject of a civil lawsuit against Officer Shobert and the police department, Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III said after the trial.

The police department was recently served with Mr. Beaver's notice of his intention to file a suit.

Meanwhile, Mr. Beaver won't be going to jail for his conviction. Judge Burns offered him probation before judgment, and, since the probationary period ordered was less than a minute, the conviction was wiped from his criminal record before he was whisked out of the courthouse.

Mr. MacDonald declined to comment on the case yesterday.

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