ST. ALBANS — Police video and documents provided to the St. Albans Messenger show how an ordinary traffic stop last week degenerated into a physical altercation, which further disintegrated into the use of ethnic and homophobic slurs.
Local attorney Peter J.R. Martin, 74, was stopped by Officer Mike Malinowski of the St. Albans Police Dept. (SAPD) Thursday, June 12, at 5:30 p.m. for having tinted windows, which are not legal in Vermont. The incident occurred on Lake Road near Cherry Street at St. Albans Bay. Martin was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He has pleaded not guilty.
A nine-minute police video taken by a camera on Malinowski’s cruiser shows an ordinary police stop.
Malinowski explains why he has stopped Martin, asks for his license, registration and insurance.
They have a brief conversation in which Martin objects to the law, pointing out he could purchase a new car with tinted windows included. During this conversation, Martin says to Malinowski, “You’re just doing your job.”
Martin also says, “I have eye conditions, not that you care.”
Malinowski answers, “Unfortunately, Vermont doesn’t recognize that.”
They discuss Martin’s military service, and Malinowksi asks if Martin is still on active duty. He is not.
Malinowski returns to his cruiser and spends several minutes verifying Martin’s license and registration.
He then returns to the car and presents Martin with the ticket, explaining he offers everyone receiving such a ticket the opportunity to remove the tinting. “If you do take it off and you come back to the office and show me you don’t have it on, I’ll void the ticket,” Malinowski says.
“It’s not your fault; you didn’t write the law,” Martin tells him.
Martin asks after Malinowski’s ethnicity and the officer replies his name is Polish.
“All right sir, hope you have a better day, okay,” Malinowski says, and Martin replies, “Adios.”
Malinowski starts back toward his car, and Martin attempts to drive off, but ends up farther off the side of the road. “It doesn’t look like it,” Martin says, apparently in reply to Malinowski having wished him a better day.
Malinowksi offers to call a wrecker.
A second video picks up after the wrecker has arrived. Martin is standing outside his vehicle. The tow truck operator, identified in court documents as Todd St. Pierre, is preparing to tow the vehicle.
Malinowski is on the radio, describing the situation to someone. Martin, he reports, is unwilling to have St. Pierre tow the car because he’s going to have to pay for it himself.
“He’s saying he’s going to sue them,” Malinowski reports, as he walks toward where Martin is attempting to stop St. Pierre from attaching chains to his car.
According to a statement provided by St. Pierre, Martin began to protest when St. Pierre said they could not bill Martin’s insurance directly and he would have to ask the insurer to reimburse him.
As Martin continues to object to having the car towed, the officer says, “I said I’m going to get a wrecker and you said, ‘Thank you very much.”
At this point, St. Pierre is attaching chains to the car. Martin says, “I don’t want him towing it. Take if off of there.”
Malinowski asks Martin to step away from St. Pierre and Martin replies, “No … arrest me.”
Martin evidently touches St. Pierre, because Malinowski says, “Don’t touch him,” to which Martin replies, “I’m not going to touch him. Arrest me.”
When Malinowski asks why, Martin says, “Because I’m going to take it off of there and if he gets in my way I’m going to push him out of the way.”
St. Pierre returns to his truck at this time, and Martin puts his hands behind his back, encouraging Malinowski to cuff him.
“Why are you being difficult?” Malinowski asks. “All you have to do is pay the gentleman.”
“I’m sick of you people,” Martin says, leading to the following exchange with Malinowski.
“Doing what? Doing our jobs?”
“That’s what you might think. I don’t think so. My German-American uncle died fighting Nazis in World War II. I will not tolerate you people.”
St. Pierre approaches the driver’s side of the car.
Malinowski advises Martin to back away from the car, saying, “I don’t want you getting hurt.”
Martin reiterates his demand to be arrested, referring to the chains, “Take this (expletive deleted) thing off my car.”
St. Pierre opens the door to the car, and Martin says, “Get out of my car.” He attempts to grab St. Pierre.
Malinowski intervenes and a short scuffle ensues in which Martin fell to the ground, hitting his head.
Malinowski draws his Taser and points it at Martin, who is prone on the ground, saying, “Do you want to get tased?”
He then notices Martin’s Smith and Wesson .38 Special on the ground next to Martin. Saying repeatedly, “Step away from the gun,” Malinowksi uses his foot to push Martin onto his back in the opposite direction of the gun.
“I’m not stepping anywhere. I’m on my back,” Martin says.
After moving the gun out of reach, Malinowski orders Martin onto his stomach. Martin instead tries to rise and Malinowski pushes him onto his stomach and cuffs him. Once Martin is secure, Malinowski empties the bullets from Martin’s weapon.
The officer asks whether Martin has anything else which can hurt him and Martin replies “Only the truth.”
Martin says he has a heart condition, and Malinowski calls for an ambulance before assisting Martin to his feet. As he searches Martin, Martin says, “You’re a disgrace as an American.” He also tells the officer, “We’re going to have fun now.”
As Malinowski is searching him, the two men have the following exchange:
“How did you cut your face? Did that happen when you rolled over?” Malinowksi asks.
“You threw me on the ground.”
“Yeah, because you resisted.”
“That’s right,” Martin says.
Sgt. Frank McCarty arrived just as Malinowski was leading a bloodied Martin back to his car. “Well, well, well you missed all the fun,” Martin tells McCarty.
McCarty instructed Malinowski to take Martin to St. Albans Town Hall where he could be seen by ambulance personnel. He then gathered up the gun and bullets and a knife Malinowski found while searching Martin, and secures them in his vehicle.
McCarty caught up with Martin at Northwestern Medical Center. According to his affidavit, Martin looked at McCarty’s nametag and said, “McCarty, you’re Irish like me, but you’re a disgraceful Irishman.”
He also overheard Martin tell his wife, “I got thrown to the ground by that little polack.” According to McCarty, Martin kept up his derogatory comments, calling the officers, “Nazi (expletive deleted) cops and nervous little faggots.”
The previous stop
This is not the first public altercation between Martin and St. Albans police. Martin also used homophobic slurs and sexist language during a March 2011 traffic stop.
Martin and his wife were departing a restaurant when a female officer stopped them for a burned out taillight. The stop became public knowledge when Martin wrote a letter to the editor of the Messenger about it.
The officer, Marie Beland, reported she had smelled alcohol and asked Martin if he had been drinking. He said he had not, but refused to step from the car for a roadside sobriety test, according to SAPD Chief Gary Taylor, who responded to Martin’s letter with his own accounting of events.
Ultimately, Martin was physically removed from the car and arrested by SAPD officers. During the arrest, Taylor reported Martin called a male officer “homo” and asked him “if he was some sort of faggot.” Taylor did not report the specific slurs directed at Officer Beland.
According to police, Martin also said, “We need to stop having little ladies running around on the police force.”
Martin had not been drinking and no charges were filed in the case.