Cop to road-rage victim: Scram

Posted: April 28, 2013

ATTENTION, MOTORISTS: Be on the lookout for a hotheaded driver on Roosevelt Boulevard who'll knock your teeth out if you diss him.

I share this warning because the guy is a menace, even if a certain cop in the 8th Police District doesn't think so. And I want to spread the word before someone gets beaten up, the way William Velasquez did.

Last Saturday afternoon, Velasquez, 40, was cruising north on Roosevelt near Welsh Road, headed for Walmart. With him was his wife, Katia Williamson, 35. In front of them was a two-door gold Pontiac whose exhaust system was so loud Velasquez and Williamson could hardly hear one another inside their Dodge Journey.

"We wanted to get away from the Pontiac, so we tried to pass him but there was too much traffic," says Williamson, who runs a cleaning business with her husband. "We must've pissed him off because the guy screams at us, 'Learn how to drive!' "

If only he'd left it at that.

At the light, she says, the driver leaped out of the Pontiac and started kicking Velasquez' door.

When Velasquez tried to exit the car, the man slammed the door on his legs, punched his face and kicked him in the groin, knocking him to the street, where he hit his head. When Williams ran to her husband's aid, the driver's female passenger hit Williams in the face. The perps jumped back into the Pontiac as the light turned green and sped off.

Velasquez, bleeding heavily from his mouth, followed as Williams wrote down the Pontiac's license-plate number. She then dialed 9-1-1 and was instructed to pull over and wait for police.

When no help arrived within 20 minutes, Velasquez and Williams drove to the 8th Police District at Academy and Red Lion roads to file a complaint.

But the officer manning the desk wouldn't take their report, says Williamson.

"He said there was nothing they could do, since we didn't have the name and address of the guy who hit my husband," says Williamson. "I said, 'We have the license number! Can't you do something with that?' He said there was no point finding out who owned the car because what if it wasn't the owner who was driving the car? What if it was someone who borrowed it?"

Well, you'd ask the owner who he lent the car, right?

Apparently not.

"He wouldn't do anything," says Williamson. "So we left."

The couple drove to Jeanes Hospital, where an emergency-room doctor was so rattled by their tale of police indifference that he contacted me on their behalf.

"The husband was limping. His lip was busted, his tooth was loose and his face was swollen. It was clear he'd been hurt," says Dr. Rick Martin, who ordered an MRI on Velasquez to rule out a head injury (there was none, but Velasquez lost the tooth). "I think people have the right to expect support from the police when something like this happens to them."

Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Officer Jillian Russell thought so, too, when I contacted her about this story. She put Velasquez and Williamson in touch with a commander, who then referred the case to Northeast Detectives for investigation.

As for the desk cop who refused service to the couple, Police Lt. John Sanford said the 8th District captain would investigate whether the incident reflects a need for training or for discipline.

If you ask me, there's a caring gap. I think this guy cares so little about the folks he's supposed to help, he can actually look a bleeding man in the eye and say, basically, "Get lost."

Or maybe there's an imagination gap. Otherwise, it would've occurred to the officer that the maniac Pontiac driver needs to be yanked off the road before he kills someone.

I mean, just last week, police on Long Island made an arrest in a case where a teenage bicyclist was mowed down by a driver intent on teaching another driver a lesson. And last month a Northampton County man was charged with shooting at a woman who dared to honk at him on I-78.

It can be hard enough for cops to catch these lunatics when the victims are too shaken to look for a license-plate number. Here, Velasquez and Williamson presented one like a wrapped gift. All the cop had to do was take it.

Lt. Stanford would like those who read this tale to know they can always ask for a supervisor if they feel "uncomfortable" with the service they're getting - or not getting - from the officer in front of them. Problem is, it puts the burden on the public to know when they're being shafted and then to act on it.

Hard to do while your holding a T-shirt to your bloody mouth, the way Velasquez was.

If it weren't for his ER doctor telling him he'd been shafted, Velasquez wouldn't now be getting the attention he should've gotten in the first place.

That's a bloody shame.


Email:polaner@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-2217

On Twitter: @RonniePhilly

Blog: ph.ly/RonnieBlog

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