A D.C. Superior Court judge yesterday dismissed three of four traffic tickets issued to a Washington cab driver during a January incident outside the Mayflower Hotel, calling them "petty charges" that amounted to "ganging up on the defendant.
Judge George D. Neilson fined cannie Neal Johnson $5 on the fourth charge, failure to keep his driver's manifest current.
The tickets were issued by officer Walter Gilmore after Johnson double-parked his can on DeSales Street NW and attempted to pick up passengers for Dulles Airport.
Gilmore charged Johnson with loitering, double parking, solicitation of passengers and failure to keep up his manifest.
Johnson in turn said he had been harassed by Gilmore, a foot partolman with the Third District whose beat includes the area around the hotel. It was also disclosed parttime of the hotel, possibly in violation of police regulations.
During a 30-minute nonjury trial yesterday, Gilmore, Johnson and Thomas Earl Smith, a doorman at the Mayflower, told different versions of the incident.
The dispute centered on a traffic regulation that prohibits cab drivers from soliciting customers. According to Gilmore's testimony, cab drivers must either be hailed from the street or they can pick up passengers at a taxi stand at the front entrance to the hotel on Connecticut Avenue NW.
According to Johnson's testimony, he had pulled his taxi up to the hotel's front entrance when a woman approached and asked where she could catch the shuttle service to Dulles Airport.
Johnson testified he told the woman he could "compensate" for the cut rate shuttle fare - $4.25. He said the woman then went to the side entrance of the hotel on DeSales Street to see it she could get additional passengers for the cab ride to Dulles. The shuttle service pick up riders to Dulles at the side entrance, according to testimony yesterday. Johnson said he followed her.STDoorman Smith testified, however, that the woman told Johnson she could not afford a cab and that she then walked to the shuttle area.
Gilmore testified he observed Johnson's cab double-parked on DeSales Street and overheard the cabbie say, "Anyone of people on the sidewalk.
Gilmore said Johnson told him the woman - who by now was in the cab - had asked to be taken to Dulles. But, Gilmore said, the woman told him that Johnson has asked her to ride in his cab. Moreover, Gilmore said, Johnson had not marked on his manifest the fact that he had just dicharged a passenger in front of the hotel. Finally, Gilmore said, Johnson was loitering in a restricted no parking area.
Johnson's attorney, Charles H. Acker III, argued that his client was not loitering, since only since only nine minutes has passed between the time the doorman saw the cab in front of the hotel and the time the tickets were issued. Also, Acker said, Johnson was not blocking traffic and argued that Gilmore could not have known whether the woman had in fact asked Johnson to take her to Dulles.
"He just tried to bury Mr. Johnson with tickets . . . hoping something would stick," Acker told Neilson.
"I know I wasn't ganging up on him," Gilmore said after the trial.
Deputy Chief Charles Rinalti of the Third District said an investigation into Gilmore's employment at the Mayflower is expected to conclude this week.