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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
Mike can be contacted via e-mail at




 Fragrant Foul Lands Perpetrator in Jail

Well, shoot. I, for one, was disappointed when the authorities dropped charges against Jose A. Cruz of Clarksburg, W.Va. I really wanted to see how that one was going to play out in the courts.

Mr. Cruz, 34, is the man who was charged with battery on a South Charleston police officer for passing gas and then fanning it in the officer’s direction.

The Rolling Thunder Assault Case. That would have been a new one in the annals - I said ANNALS of American law.

The police report, for example. In my reporter days, I spent a lot of time in cop shops, and learned to translate a language used but two places: In police reports and in courtrooms when officers are required to testify. It’s a weird sort of legalese-influnced dialect, intended to communicate and obfuscate at the same time. And I can just imagine how it was used in the Cruz case:

"At approximately 11 p.m. on the night of 24 September 2008 Sheriff Taylor and the undersigned Officer Fife were interrogating an individual in reference to erratic driving received a call of erratic driving on the road out to Rafe Hollisters (see attached). Upon incarceration the subject, Jose A. Cruz, 34, Clarksburg, did knowingly and with malice aforethought attack the investigating officers by means of floating an air biscuit in their general direction, producing a foul odor and burning in the eyeball region of the aforementioned officers’ faces. Subject further exacerbated the situation by using his hands to fan the aforementioned sulfurous cloud of noxious gas, believed to be composed of Nitrogen, Hydrogen, Carbon Dioxide, Oxygen and Methane gases, along with low molecular weight fatty acids such as butyric acid and reduced sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and carbonyl sulfide (still awaiting lab results) which stunk to high heaven. Suspect was charged with battery on a police officer in addition to original charges of driving under the influence, driving without headlights and mopery with intent to gawk."

Then of course, would come the trial. Imagine the headlines:

"Gas Passer Wears Windbreaker To Arraignment."

"Cops, Accused Disagree On Purpose Of One-Cheek Sneak."

"Visiting Seventh-Graders Collapse With Laughter During Barking Spider Trial."

"Walter The Farting Dog Called As Character Witness."

Wow. Talk about your missed opportunities. For American journalism, it could have been a blast.

Oh, well. Back to the case. The fact is Mr. Cruz did cut the cheese in the police station. Whether he meant it as an editorial comment on his incarceration could never really be determined. And whether the odiferous assault constituted actually battery was left undecided.

(My opinion: If nobody faints, it’s assault. It’s only battery if people drop to the floor, or the arresting officer’s badge tarnishes.)

So the charge was dropped. And rightly so, I think. The cops had Cruz dead to rights on the real charges, the serious ones, the offenses that threatened real danger to the public at large. Those are the charges to concentrate on.

However, that does not mean you can just fire off the ol’ cannon at the police station. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Are you listening, unnamed friend of mine who likes to go cropdusting down the automotive aisle at Target?

So, in the words of the aforementioned undersigned officer, nip it. Or at least hold it until you get outside. Or make bail.




© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.