LO AEWe Michigan Daiy - uesday, Mawh_26, 200L-5
*_aw forces drivers to move oeror p"oliecr
LANSING (AP) - DeWitt Township Officer
"Gary Priess was writing a speeding ticket next
to his patrol car on U.S. 127 last year when a
tractor-trailer hit the cruiser, bounced off and
a A new state law that goes into effect tomor-
-row will try to prevent officers' deaths by forc-
* ing drivers to either change lanes or slow down
when passing emergency vehicles on the side of
the road. It is one of 60 new laws taking effect
State Rep. Valde Garcia (R-St. Johns) said he
introduced the bill after the January 2000 death of
Priess, who was an officer in his district. He mod-
eled the law after one in Indiana.
Since 1985, at least four other officers have
!been killed and dozens have been injured in
similar accidents, the Michigan State Police
said. While Garcia was writing the law, a state
trooper from Paw Paw was struck and killed
during a traffic stop. Garcia said when he
learned to drive, he was taught to leave plenty
of room for emergency vehicles.
But not all drivers are getting that message, he
"I've noticed that people don't move over,
even when there's plenty of room" Garcia said.
"We hope that this will change traffic habits."
The emergency vehicle law will require drivers
to place at least one lane between them and an
emergency vehicle with its lights flashing. If the
road is too narrow or clogged, drivers must slow
down as they pass the emergency vehicle.
Lt. Ray Hall, a spokesman for the Lansing
police, said he doesn't expect the law to have
much effect because most motorists already are
doing what the new law requires.
"Most people get over when they see an
emergency vehicle. It's just what people do,"
Hall said. "This law is designed for the select
few drivers that choose not to move over. It's
going to have minimum impact on motorists."
Hall added that he isn't sure motorists are
aware of the new law. The only major effort to
advertise it has been in the Detroit area, which is
posting information about the law on electronic
One of the commuters who has seen those
signs is Carmine Palombo, director of transporta-
tion for the Southeast Michigan Council of Gov-
ernments. He worries the new law will encourage
drivers to change lanes without looking.
But Palombo - who spends up to50 minutes
on Detroit's clogged freeways each day - says he
isn't concerned about the traffic tie-ups that could
occur as drivers squeeze into fewer lanes to make
room for emergency vehicles.
"You're always going to have gawkers when-
ever you have some light flashing. But I think
this is a really important safety feature," he said.
"Even if it slows you down a little bit, I think
it's worth it."
Drivers who don't change lanes or slow down
can be charged with a misdemeanor and face a
$500 fine or up to 90 days in jail if convicted.
The law carries are more serious penalties if
a driver doesn't leave room for an emergency
vehicle and subsequently causes a death or
injury. In that case, the driver could face up to
15 years in prison and a $7,500 fine.
Other new laws going into effect this week will
ban anyone under 18 from riding in the open bed
of a pickup truck and require insurance compa-
nies to cover diabetic supplies.
They are among the 50 new laws taking effect
March 28, which marks 90 days after the end of
the 1999-2000 legislative session. Ten laws take
effect April 1, including one allowing govern-
ments to recoup the costs of dealing with false
bomb threats from those who make them.
Lawmakers can choose a date for a law to
take effect or vote for a law to take immediate
effect. But laws without those designations
automatically go into effect three months after
the previous year's legislative session ends.
Portrait of an artist
Sharpton holds rally in
Pontiac; calls for charges
in death of shoplifter
PONTIAC (AP) - The Rev. A' Sharpton led protest-
ers yesterday at the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office
as they called on authorities to file charges in the~death
of a shoplifting suspect who was subdued by guards at a
The Oakland County Sheriff's Department last week
said it is not seeking criminal charges in the death of
Travis Shelton of Detroit.
Sheriff Michael Bouchard said that after investigators
interviewed 24 witnesses and reviewed police reports,
tapes and the autopsy, it did not appear the guards used
"It sends a signal to us that they take seriously some
crimes and less seriously other crimes," said Sharpton,
of the National Action Network.
About 45 people joined Sharpton, some carrying
signs. including ones that read, "Prosecute Now."
Shelton was trying to steal meat from a Kroger store
in Royal Oak Township on Feb. 8 when guards caught
and tackled him, authorities said. Police arrived and
handcuffed Shelton, then discovered he was not breath-
The decision to prosecute now rests with Prosecutor
David Gorcyca's office.
The Rev. Horace Sheffield, who organized a Feb. 1 S
demonstration outside the store, said he and Sharpton
hope to meet with Gorcyca to make the case for prose-
"Our purpose here is to put some public, visible pres-
sure on the prosecutor," Sheffield said.
Gorcyca said he will not meet with the Sharpton,
Shelton's family or others about the case before making
"I have to strip myself of all emotion when it comes
to this. I have to look at the facts and look at the law,"
Gorcyca said. "That's my moral and ethical responsibil-
He said lie expects to announce his decision by the
end of this week.
"I certainly respect their right to protest, but their
actions are charged by highly emotional responses,"
He said, however, that he would meet with Shelton's
family if charges are not filed.
"If a charge wasn't issued, I think they'd be entitled to
an explanation, but I don't want it to end up in an emo-
tional debate," Gorcyca said.
County Medical Examiner L.J. Dragovic said Shelton
suffocated from compression caused by someone sitting
on him, and he classified the death as a homicide.
Homicide can be criminal or justifiable, depending on
William Davis & Associates Security, which
employed the two guards who stopped Shelton, has said
the men acted properly.
"If you don't have time, Mr. Prosecutor, we have the
time to put your case in front of the nation," Sharpton
said. "This might be out past Southfield, but this is not
"It's important for me to be here to see that justice be
served," said protester Michael Fletcher of Detroit. "I
think that sometimes people have a tendency to let
things slide under the rug and be forgotten. It's impor-
tant that we not let that happen here.
"A life has been lost here. A mother h-as lost her
Fletcher arrived by bus at the Oakland County gov-
ernmental center with other protesters, including Keith
Glover of Detroit.
"The lawmakers have said that if there is a possible
murder, there will be an investigation, and we will bring
a trial and let a jury decide. But all this time has passed
in this case, and it's not even come to court," Glover
This case came after a highly publicized shoplifting
death in the Detroit area.
JESSICA JOHNSON/ Daly
Tiffany Wilson, a fifth year Art and Design student, works on her self portrait yesterday, an assignment for her Aqueous
Media class in the School of Art and Design.
U.S. attorney plans
to step down after
7 years in Detroit
Clinton appointee was
, responsible for Ed Martin
DETROIT (AP) - Saul Green -
the man who was responsible for the
investigation of former Michigan bas-
ketball booster Ed Martin - will
resign his post as U.S. attorney for the
Eastern District of Michigan, Green
9 Green, who was appointed by Presi-
dent Clinton in 1994, was expected to
step down after President Bush took
officethis year. The 93 U.S. attorneys
nationwide are appointed by the presi-
dent with approval by the Senate.
In Detroit, Green's office has been
responsible for investigating high-pro-
file cases including that of Martin, who
was accused of running an illegal gam-
bling operation and providing cash and
gifts to current and former basketball
players for years.
"Being U.S. attorney has been the
most fulfilling experience of my
career," said Green, whose resignation
is effective May 1. "I have been given
the opportunity to serve the public and
have a positive impact on communities
while enhancing public safety.
"Much has been accomplished, but
there is still much to do."
Green is the first black U.S. attorney
to serve in Michigan. He also served
on the 18-member advisory committee
to former Attorney General Janet Reno
and was the chairman of the attorney
general's subcommittee on organized
crime, violent crime and violence
Green's office also is central in a Jus-
tice Department investigation of the
Detroit Police Department that was
launched'in December. It is focusing
on police shootings and deaths of pris-
oners in police lockups.
Reports have said people being inter-
viewed to replace Green include
Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Jef-
frey G. Collins, Assistant U.S. Attorney
Stephen Murphy and Bingham Farms
lawyer Alan Harnisch.
Second escape foiled
for Jackson inmate
JACKSON (AP) - An inmate con-
sidered an "escape risk" by corrections
officials eluded prison guards yesterday
and got 10 blocks away before being
It was the second escape in less than
the van's door, corrections spokesman
Matt Davis said.
A Jackson police officer captured
Selby, of Norvell Township, without a
struggle, police Lt. Matthew Heins said.
The prison system operates a med-