Police charge ATV rider, camera operator who taunted police in Prince George's County
DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. - Police have charged an ATV rider and a camera operator who they say video recorded themselves taunting a police cruiser along a busy highway in Prince George's County.
Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski joined FOX 5 live Thursday morning to announce that charges had been filed against the two men. Stawinski identified the man seen driving the ATV as 26-year-old Piera Sterling Barbour of Fort Washington.
Video posted online over the weekend showed Barbour positioning his ATV dangerously close to a Prince George's County police cruiser along Pennsylvania Avenue in District Heights, Md. He then can be seen performing stunts, including riding with no hands, while speeding ahead of the officer's vehicle.
Stawinski also identified the camera operator who filmed Barbour as 25-year-old Michael Wayne Roane of Washington D.C.
Both Barbour and Roane face a number of charges, including reckless driving and negligent driving. Stawinski also said officers served an open warrant on Barbour at the same time these charges were filed. Neither of the men have been taken into custody at this time.
In a search on Maryland's sex offender registry, we found Barbour was convicted in 2007 on a charge of second-degree rape.
Stawinski said the police officer in the cruiser acted with restraint and professionalism during the incident.
"This individual is engaged in reckless, rude, disrespectful behavior," he said. "The appropriate thing for us is not to get emotional and to chase this person, creating more havoc or danger to the public."
Stawinski said Prince George's County "no-chase" policy mirrors that of national practices in policing. He said that by giving chase, police could inadvertently create hazards to the public.
"That's why we don't chase -- because we're not going to engage in reckless behavior in response to reckless behavior," the police chief said.
Stawinski also added that there is a wide gulf between people who engage in legal ATV and dirt bike activities and those who choose to ride illegally.
"If you engage in this behavior, we're not going to chase you, we're not going to endanger the public, but subsequent to that, we will be coming and we will be coming to hold you accountable for it," he said.
Stawinski also said a third person was charged with related offenses. But details regarding that separate case were not immediately known.
Back in April, D.C. police announced a major crackdown on illegal ATV and dirt bike riders. Police released pictures of 245 riders that police wanted to identify.
On Wednesday, FOX 5 asked D.C. police and Prince George's County police exactly how many arrests have been made and how many bikes have been taken off the street since that crackdown.
According to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, 62 people have been identified from those pictures and 25 arrest warrants have been issued. Police have also made 26 additional arrests since April with their illegal vehicles taken. She said more arrest warrants are expected to come. Some of the confiscated dirt bikes and ATVs have been destroyed at the compound yard.
Chief Lanier said that since her press conference in April, the number of reports of these illegal bikes has dropped significantly. Lanier is crediting the public with identifying these illegal riders and new tips are coming in everyday. She also said she believes some riders may have seen themselves in the media and decided to stop.