Last Monday, May 14th John Davis was exiting I-90 at the West 117th ramp when he saw a man in a wheelchair. The man was pale, thin and holding a sign that had a religious sentiment and also a request for help.
John thought to himself, “I think we’re all to help the less fortunate.”
The middle class family man from Elyria works hard for a living and enjoys giving back especially to people who are physically challenged.
“I have a brother that’s paralyzed,” said John, “My brother’s in that same situation and struggles.”
John reached into his wallet and grabbed a couple of bucks to give to the man. As he approached the light at the exit, he rolled the money up vertically and stretched his arm out of his window. He says, the man touched the cash and one of the dollars fell to the ground.
The man then bent over and picked it up.
Moments later as John travelled North on West 117th he says a Cleveland police officer pulled him over.
“He proceeds to tell me he’s pulling me over for littering,” said John.
John and his friends who witnessed the exchange were baffled.
The ticket cited Section No: 613.06 of Cleveland’s Municipal Codes, which is littering from a motor vehicle.
His offense was listed as, “Throw paper out window,” and in parenthesis, “money to panhandler.”
John said he was confused because money is paper but it’s not trash.
Cleveland police can’t comment on the ticket at this time but according to a spokesperson there is another code that may have been violated.
There is a code which states that it is illegal to panhandle or give money to panhandlers near a highway or street including a berm, shoulder, treelawn or sidewalk.
Section No: 471.06 states in part that “No person shall stand on a highway for the purpose of soliciting…contributions…”
It also reads that “No driver” is to “transfer currency….to any person standing on a street or highway.”
But John says that’s not what he was ticketed for. He was cited for littering from a motor vehicle, and the officer advised him to “take it up with the courts.”
John does plan to challenge the ticket in court, mainly because it carries a hefty fine. It could cost him $500 once you add the fine plus court costs.
John says he has always had a deep admiration for Cleveland police, and he isn’t trying to start trouble, but that’s a lot of money for helping out someone less fortunate.
“I don’t mean any disrespect toward the police department at all we need ‘em but I just wish I didn’t have to pay this ticket,” said John Davis.
The experience has left him disheartened, and has already destroyed his joy and willingness to give money to those in need.
“I’d like to do it again but I’m petrified I’m going to get a ticket.”