Teen mistakenly ticketed by Lafayette police officer admits he should have shown more respect

Officer writes letter of apology to 16-year old

LAFAYETTE, Colo. - A 16-year old Louisville boy, who was mistakenly ticketed for riding his bike in a crosswalk, says he should have shown more respect to the officer.

Vince Marten told 7NEWS that he was on his way to soccer practice last Thursday when he entered the crosswalk at S. Boulder Road and Minotaur Circle in Lafayette.

“I was halfway through when yelled for me to come back,” Marten said. “He told me it was illegal to ride a bike in the crosswalk.”

Lafayette Police Officer Sean Jenneiahn said he had just finished dealing with a bicycle/car collision at the same intersection when he noticed the teen riding down the sidewalk.

“I gave him a warning,” Jenneiahn said. “I was trying to educate him about the danger.”

The officer said the teen “parked his bike and then came back and started verbally abusing me and questioning me.”

He said since the education wasn’t working, he opted to write the teen a ticket.

That’s when Marten whipped out his cell phone and started recording. He then posted part of that recording on Facebook. It went viral.

In the recording, he asks the officer why he’s not ticketing other bicyclists.  The officer replied it was because he was dealing with him.

Marten pointed to another bicyclist and asked incredulously, “Watch this guy.  He just did the same thing.  Are you (f-word) kidding me?”

Jenneiahn recorded the confrontation with his own camera. He told 7NEWS that the young bicyclist berated and cursed at him.

When the teen asked for the officer’s badge number, the officer in turn asked for the teen’s name.  When the teen wouldn’t provide it, the officer handcuffed him and then searched his backpack to make sure there wasn’t a gun inside.

That’s when the officer discovered a phone number.  He says he dialed the number and talked to the teen’s grandfather.

He says the grandfather apologized for the teen’s behavior and asked the officer to send him home.

On Monday, Jenneiahn learned that there is no law prohibiting the riding of bicycles in Lafayette crosswalks.

“I wrote a letter to him (the teen) apologizing for the misunderstanding,” he said.

Police Chief Rick Bashor said steps have been taken to educate all officers “to make sure that everybody understands the law (regarding crosswalks) and how to apply it.”

Bashor said Jenneiahn kept his composure while the bicyclist was berating him.

“I think the young man was very disrespectful,” the chief said. “I think he escalated the situation.”

Marten admits as much.

“I can see now where (the officer) was coming from,” Marten said. “There had just been an incident where a bike hit a car or something.”

“If I could go back, I would have been much calmer and more respectful,” the teen added.

When asked why he reacted the way he did, Marten replied, “I felt it was completely unnecessary for him to yell at me when I’m a kid riding my bike going to soccer practice. That set me off a little.”

Marten said he thought the officer sounded kind of rude so he stood his ground.

“In hindsight, I should have handled the situation better,” he said. “He handled the situation pretty well for how I was acting.”

Bashor said it’s been a lesson for everyone.

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