Official's spouse arrested for having feet on bench

Charge is dropped after he spent 5 1/2 hours in jail

August 04, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

The way Willie Antonio Flowers tells it, he was arrested for sitting on a park bench.

And as a result, the 32-year-old political consultant - who happens to be the husband of city recreation and parks Director Kimberley A. Flowers - spent nearly six hours in jail Friday.

Police officials said yesterday that they are investigating why Flowers was arrested. A charge of failure to obey has been dropped by the city state's attorney's office.

In a police document, Officer Charles Megibow of the Central District wrote that he was patrolling St. Mary's Park in the 600 block of N. Paca St. when he spotted Flowers atop a park bench, his work boots resting on the seat. Megibow wrote that he asked Flowers to "sit correctly as people would not like to sit on a seat dirtied by someone's feet."

Flowers said he was waiting in the park for neighbors so they could clean up a building. He said that's when Megibow pulled up in a patrol car and demanded, "Get your [expletive] off the back of the bench because people don't want to put their ... where your feet are."

The officer, who has been on the force for 27 years, reported that Flowers smiled at him, didn't move his feet and twice refused to leave the park.

Flowers said he briefly sat in stunned silence but that he agreed to leave the park.

They both agree what happened next - Flowers, who lives across the street from the park, wound up in handcuffs and charged with failure to obey.

Flowers has no arrest record in Maryland, according to court documents. He said he has been arrested once before with the charges dropped - in Washington in the 1990s for participating in a peaceful political protest without a permit.

Opal Baker, a neighbor who saw Friday's arrest, said eight or nine officers arrived at the park before Flowers was taken away. "It was pretty ridiculous," she said.

After his arrest, Flowers' neighbors called his wife, and she called Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark, Flowers said. He said the commissioner apologized to his wife but not to him.

Prosecutors dismissed the case Friday because the charges were legally insufficient.

Flowers said he spent from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Central Booking and Intake Center.

"It was," he said, "the worst experience of my life."

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