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Michigan cop's mistake leads to $320,000 deal with Japanese man wrongly accused of drunken driving

43 Comments
By ED WHITE

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43 Comments
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If you made a mistake don’t deny it

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Akima, a native of Yonago, Japan, was in the U.S. on a work visa in 2020.

From good ole Tottori to suing the American authorities , making them take responsibility for a miscarriage of justice, and getting a not insubstantial payday.

It seems Ryohei has adapted to life in America well.

20 ( +25 / -5 )

Japan's tax authorities are going to love getting their mitts on that kind of windfall.

2 ( +12 / -10 )

“I have no idea what I’m doing,"

At least she didn't shoot him!

17 ( +26 / -9 )

Fowlerville - an unfortunate town name in this instance.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

A bit of a foul up it seems…

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How much of the settlement money did Ryohei’s American lawyer receive as his legal fee?

7 ( +10 / -3 )

T. Joseph Seward, an attorney who represented Peca, claimed that performance on roadside sobriety tests was enough to make an arrest and avoid civil liability in the lawsuit.

That is a very crooked attorney.

And, how come a police officer that does not know what he is doing is allowed to patrol?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Sadly, cops never wrongfully accused me of drunk driving during my four past pullovers, so no payout for me.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

Meiyouwenti

How much of the settlement money did Ryohei’s American lawyer receive as his legal fee?

The standard is 33%.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

"“I have no idea what I’m doing." -- every cop, actually

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Good result.

It's possible the Japanese man was mistreated due to entrenched racism in the police force over there. I can fully understand why so many are calling for police in the US to be defunded.

-3 ( +13 / -16 )

Sadly, cops never wrongfully accused me of drunk driving during my four past pullovers, so no payout for me.

I guess you were not illegally accused, arrested and thrown in a cell as this poor, innocent Japanese man was. The mental anguish and trauma he must have suffered is impossible to imagine.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

Would never happen in Japan, just a sorry after being held for 21 days in prison.

-5 ( +11 / -16 )

Sue them for wrongful termination! :)

Peca is no longer an officer in Fowlerville.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Fighto!Today 08:20 am JST

Good result.

It's possible the Japanese man was mistreated due to entrenched racism in the police force over there. I can fully understand why so many are calling for police in the US to be defunded.

Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. In any event, we aren't defunding police anymore than we would defund teachers.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

fallaffelToday 08:38 am JST

Sue them for wrongful termination! :)

Peca is no longer an officer in Fowlerville.

She actually probably should: was she trained on the probably cause for drink driving appropriately and how to use the breathalyzer?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Fighto!Today 08:20 am JST

Good result.

> It's possible the Japanese man was mistreated due to entrenched racism in the police force over there. I can fully understand why so many are calling for police in the US to be defunded

It's possible but it's also more likely that nothing at all like that happened because nowhere in the article is that stated or implied. The cops in Japan are way more prejudiced in my opinion, and I have decades of dealing with cops in both countries. One or two incidents that make world headlines should not obscure the fact that police in the U.S. have a really tough job and many lose their lives on the job. I have had one or two negative experiences with cops but I don't think the police are all bad and anyone calling for them to be defunded is severely misguided. What needs to be done in many places is an overhaul of tactics and training, then you try to root out the bad apples and bad procedures. There and tens of thousands more crooked people than crooked cops so who's going to police them? I lived in the worst area of NYC during the worst decades and the people who were terrorizing the neighborhood weren't wearing police uniforms, but gang patches. Police put their lives on the line every day to protect citizens and keep the peace, and, sure there are bad ones but that is the case in every line of work. For every George Floyd incident there are literally thousands of others that go smoothly that you won't hear about at all. Police lives matter, black lives matter, all lives matter.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

T. Joseph Seward, an attorney who represented Peca, claimed that performance on roadside sobriety tests was enough to make an arrest and avoid civil liability in the lawsuit.

Is the roadside sobriety test the one where you have to walk in a straight line, stand on one leg, bark like a dog and so on? If so, there may have been language issues, the motorist's nerves at being pulled over etc that gave the officer the false impression that the driver was under the influence.

However, confusing 0.02 with 0.22, and admitting to having "no idea what I’m doing," points to at least some level of incompetence on behalf of the officer. Termination of employment is harsh. Perhaps more training and corrective measures - she was still a rookie after all - may have been more appropriate. Maybe it was a condition of the ruling or something. It doesn't mean necessarily mean she can't join another police force. Just not in Fowlerville.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Meiyouwenti

The US taxes the entire amount at around 50%. Michigan might have a windfall tax, too; often around 10% of the entire amount.

The $320,000 is reduced by $160,000 (US) which is reduced by $105,400 (lawyer); the entire amount could be previously reduced by $32,000 (Michigan).

Leaving Akima with either $23,400 or, if no Michigan tax, $55,400.

I’m not sure how much of the entire amount Japan will tax Akima.

But I’m no tax accountant so take this with a grain of salt (pre-tax).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So it appears he was detained for only a relatively short amount of time as the blood test would have been promptly carried out, thereby proving his innocence.

$320K, minus tax & fees, is a nice payload for a few hours.

Imagine the same scenario in Japan. An American guy wrongfully tested.

Just squeezing an apology out of the authorities would be tough, let alone money to buy a new house and car and some - lol.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

LOL

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

From an earlier AP article:

"The appeals court, however, said that another officer at the scene testified that the (roadside sobriety) tests were administered incorrectly, which may have affected the results....

"Seward said Peca now works elsewhere for a sheriff’s department. The lawsuit will return to federal court in Detroit for trial or a possible settlement."

https://apnews.com/article/wrong-arrest-drunken-driving-michigan-56b545bdf223a84a3073f1d06ca5fd3f

So it appears he was detained for only a relatively short amount of time as the blood test would have been promptly carried out, thereby proving his innocence.

$320K, minus tax & fees, is a nice payload for a few hours.

Sure, but that wasn't the point. The officer did not have probable cause to detain him for any length of time beyond the administration of the tests, and the driver's constitutional rights (to which he was entitled as a visa holder) were violated. I think.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

And, how come a police officer that does not know what he is doing is allowed to patrol?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Caitlyn Peca, who was a rookie officer, told a colleague over the radio, “I have no idea what I’m doing," according to a summary of the case.

Pretty consistent with American policing in general lol

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Caitlyn Peca, who was a rookie officer

A woman's name?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How lucky he is. In Japan he wouldn’t get anything and probably would harassed and investigate until they found something else to get a confession from.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Akima, 37, filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that Peca's actions violated the U.S. Constitution.

I understand the rookie cop made a big blunder and Akima should be compensated but what part of the Constitution did she violate?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Paul Today  10:23 am JST

And, how come a police officer that does not know what he is doing is allowed to patrol?

This cop was a woman.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A rookie cop, armed to the teeth is allowed to patrol on the streets, and she is probably working in the next town over by now.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I understand the rookie cop made a big blunder and Akima should be compensated but what part of the Constitution did she violate?

She didn't have probable cause. That violates the 4th Amendment.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The US taxes the entire amount at around 50%. Michigan might have a windfall tax, too; often around 10% of the entire amount.

No. The Federal income tax is progressive and the highest marginal tax rate is 37%. That doesn't mean all of your income is taxed at 37%, only that part that falls above the cut off for the top bracket. You have to understand how a progressive tax structure works. In this case the 35% tax bracket applies to incomes between $243,725 and $609,350 so the amount won doesn't push him into the top tax bracket. I ran $320,000 through an income tax calculator. The US Federal tax liability on $320,000 filing single with one exemption and no dependents, debts, loan interest, debts, etc. is $94,075

https://smartasset.com/taxes/current-federal-income-tax-brackets

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It shows that unlike other countries where the police racially profile the visible minorities and the issue is never adressed in the U.S. even with all it's problems and imperfection have democracy and rights still working.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

DesertTortoise

Thanks for the information. My knowledge of US taxes is, obviously, out of date. As I said, take my calculations with a pre-tax grain of salt.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That's about 48 million yen at today's exchange rate. Wonder if he is still working in the U.S.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Desert Tortoise

The US Federal tax liability on $320,000 filing single with one exemption and no dependents, debts, loan interest, debts, etc. is $94,075

Plus, he wouldn't be taxed for the full amount, as his lawyer would probably be taking 1/3 plus expenses, based on current standards.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

after a police officer badly misread a breath test

sounds like the cop would fit right in with the Japanese keystone cops.

Maybe they can recruit her after this is all done.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

It's possible but it's also more likely that nothing at all like that happened because nowhere in the article is that stated or implied. The cops in Japan are way more prejudiced in my opinion, and I have decades of dealing with cops in both countries. One or two incidents that make world headlines should not obscure the fact that police in the U.S. have a really tough job and many lose their lives on the job. I have had one or two negative experiences with cops but I don't think the police are all bad and anyone calling for them to be defunded is severely misguided. What needs to be done in many places is an overhaul of tactics and training, then you try to root out the bad apples and bad procedures. There and tens of thousands more crooked people than crooked cops so who's going to police them? I lived in the worst area of NYC during the worst decades and the people who were terrorizing the neighborhood weren't wearing police uniforms, but gang patches. Police put their lives on the line every day to protect citizens and keep the peace, and, sure there are bad ones but that is the case in every line of work. For every George Floyd incident there are literally thousands of others that go smoothly that you won't hear about at all. Police lives matter, black lives matter, all lives matter.

New York never truly slept. Even in the hush before dawn, the city thrummed with a restless energy - distant shouts, the rumble of a garbage truck, the sharp toot of a taxi seeking an elusive fare. Officer Malone leaned against his cruiser, the radio crackling with static and half-heard dispatches. He sighed, the weight of his badge heavy on his chest.

A battered sedan rattled past, music blaring, and Malone winced. Another noise complaint, he guessed. Another night mediating the symphony of the city. A symphony where, more often than not, the right tune could make any problem disappear. He glanced at the sleek skyscraper across the road, its windows gleaming coldly.

The wail of a siren pierced the air, a crescendo in the urban chorus. Malone squinted, trying to trace its path. An ambulance, maybe. Or perhaps just another reminder - those with the loudest claxons, the most insistent wail, often called the shots in this city. His city, with its own peculiar brand of justice.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

America is a great place to live. There are some serious, serious problems no doubt. But people who think that overrides the high quality and standard of life that America allows its citizens - higher than most places on the planet - are as blinded by stupidity as Trump, who claims the country is a dump.

I wouldn't live there, because the gun thing is a personal dealbreaker. But if it weren't for guns, I would probably want to live in many places in America.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

opheliajadefeldtMar. 1 12:45 pm JST

A rookie cop, armed to the teeth is allowed to patrol on the streets, and she is probably working in the next town over by now.

I realize a pistol is "armed to the teeth" to you but that is a pretty hilarious statement from a US perspective.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If he leaves the currency in US Dollars, he will have a nice return on the funds for Japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If he leaves the currency in US Dollars, he will have a nice return on the funds for Japan

How would you see a return without converting it to yen??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A rookie cop, armed to the teeth is allowed to patrol on the streets, and she is probably working in the next town over by now.

Everyone is new to their job at some point in their career(s). However I am under the impression that most police agencies send their new officers out with an experienced officer to train them until they have been on patrol six months or a year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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