A Montreal man was hit with $749 in traffic fines last month after he double parked while dropping off his special needs son at school.
Luca Amico says he takes extra care when driving his son to school lately because the boy has been experiencing brain seizures. Amico’s son, a teenager, also has cerebral palsy.
So when he dropped him off at school in St-Léonard on May 10, Amico pulled up up to the building, turned on his hazard lights and left the car running while he walked his son to the entrance.
“His doctor told me: ‘When you drop him off, watch him, make sure he gets in the school okay,’ ” said Amico, a business owner. “We’ve had to change his medication recently because of the seizures, so I’m just being careful.”
When Amico drove away, he was immediately pulled over.
“I hear the sirens and I was honestly confused,” he said. “I thought: ‘I know I didn’t go over 30 (kilometres an hour). What’s going on?’ ”
The officer told him he was double parked and he’d be getting a $53 fine. In retrospect, Amico said he probably should have just accepted the ticket and moved on. But in the moment, he said it felt like he hadn’t done anything wrong.
“I was worried about my kid and I walked him into the school and I got a ticket for it,” he said. “So I got out of my car and I walked over to the officer and I said: “Madame, is there any way you can tell me what I did wrong? My kid has an illness, I needed to take him into school.’ ”
That’s when he decided to start filming the encounter on his smartphone.
“The minute I did that, the conversation was over. She raised her hand, she took off to her car,” he said. “I think that’s where my troubles really started.”
Amico thought the ordeal would end with a $53 ticket. But two weeks later, he received an additional $107 fine in the mail. That came because his registration wasn’t signed. Another two fines came a few days later — he was slapped with a $107 ticket for having put his hazard lights on and a $482 fine for “obstructing the work of a peace agent.”
In the video Amico shot, the officer warns him that she’ll give him a ticket for “obstruction” if he doesn’t back away from her vehicle.
“It’s because I took out my phone,” he said. “Why did I get all those extra tickets in the mail? If it was so bad, why wait two weeks and then send something in the mail?”
Though he visited the St-Léonard police station where the officer works to complain, Amico said he encountered “a brick wall.” Now, he says he’ll file a complaint with the police ethics commissioner.
Amico will also contest the tickets in municipal court.
It’s protocol for Montreal police not to comment on specific cases before the courts ,but one police source told the Montreal Gazette it was unwise of Amico to get out of his car.
“That just escalates things. That takes an ordinary traffic stop and turns it into something potentially aggressive,” said the source, who is not authorized to talk to the media. “I’m not saying the officer was right to write a ticket, but you don’t argue your case on the street, you win or lose it in court.”
In the end, though, Amico said it would have been nice to be treated with compassion.
“My son, he just wants to be treated like any other kid and this is hard on him,” Amico said. “In the end, I got a ticket for dropping off my son. He has a condition, he could have … I just didn’t want anything to happen to him.”