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Man leaves his car running in a gas station parking lot — and ends up in jail

A man was arrested after breaking a little-known law against leaving his vehicle idling at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Sacramento, California. The man wound up being arrested for resisting arrest. (Image source: KOVR-TV video screenshot)

A California man left his vehicle running while stopping at a 7-Eleven on Friday, and after a heated exchange with a police officer trying to cite him, he ended up spending the rest of the day in jail, KOVR-TV reported.

The man was apparently in violation of a little-known law that prohibits people from leaving cars idling while unattended, and wound up being arrested for resisting arrest.

What happened?

Craig Williams was at a Sacramento 7-Eleven convenience store Friday. Cellphone video taken by his girlfriend, Erin Ortiz, shows Williams being confronted by a Sacramento police officer.

The encounter escalates, and the officer tries to restrain Williams, who appears to resist. The officer eventually gets Williams on the ground and puts him in handcuffs.

According to the Sacramento Police Department, the officer engaged with Williams regarding "multiple law violations," and Williams was arrested not just because of the idling vehicle but because he was not cooperative.

What is the law?

Attorney Mike Wise told KOVR that there is indeed a law against leaving an idling vehicle unattended without a brake set, but that it only applies to "public areas that are publicly maintained."

Wise said, and a 7-Eleven employee confirmed, that the parking lot where this occurred was private property.

"This appears to be a private parking lot where the vehicle code technically would not even apply," Wise told KOVR.

Wise also said the arrest may have been an overreaction.

"They are not allowed to take you into custody for that offense unless you refuse to sign the ticket," Wise said.

What now?

Believing he was mistreated, Williams and Ortiz are reportedly planning to meet with the NAACP to determine what their legal options are, while the Sacramento Police Department continues to investigate the incident.

One last thing…
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