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Driver accused of hitting Clearwater patrol car wins case by default

CLEARWATER — A Largo woman who fought a traffic ticket and accused the Clearwater Police Department of a cover-up won her case Thursday by default.

The traffic ticket was dismissed after officers failed to show up for a hearing.

"For some reason, I'm not satisfied,'' said Carolyn Annand, 47.

Annand had enlisted the help of her sister, Leslie Annand, assistant city attorney for Westminster, Colo., and crash investigator James Church to fight a careless driving ticket she received in June when her car collided with a police cruiser.

Leslie Annand flew in from Denver on Wednesday for the hearing.

The strange case began at 9:34 p.m. June 26 when an alarm sounded at a bank on Drew Street. A Clearwater police officer responded and pulled over a car coming out of the bank's parking area.

About the same time, according to the police report, Annand was driving her 2000 Honda west on Drew Street in the median lane near Old Coachman Road.

A second Clearwater police officer, Amira Eltouny, responded to the scene as backup. She also was traveling west but in the right lane. She pulled well ahead of Annand's vehicle with her emergency lights flashing and moved into the median lane.

Eltouny then slowed to make a U-turn when Annand hit her car, causing significant damage to both vehicles.

The police report said Annand was likely fixated on the traffic stop and failed to react to changes in traffic farther ahead.

Not seriously injured, Annand and Eltouny were taken to Morton Plant Hospital, where they were interviewed by police.

According to the report, Annand was uncooperative, argumentative and expressed a dislike of all law enforcement officers encountered that day.

In her account, she was heading home from her job in a restaurant when she saw a crash and then a police car pass her. In the blink of an eye, the police cruiser did a U-turn so suddenly she could not stop.

"I saw the cruiser sideways in front of me and broad sided it,'' she said in the police report.

When an investigator told Annand she was at fault for the accident, she accused him of "covering up for other cops.''

She was cited for careless driving.

In Eltouny's account, she changed lanes from the westbound curb lane to the median lane two or three car lengths before starting to turn left into the center turn lane to make the U-turn. When she did so, she said there were no cars in the immediate area.

The Annand sisters showed up for the 1:30 p.m. hearing in Clearwater-North County Traffic Court on U.S. 19.

But Eltouny was nowhere to be seen.

All the other cases scheduled went ahead of the Annand case as the court waited for the officers.

As the session ended late in the afternoon, Jon Marcin, Clearwater's risk management specialist, appeared. He told the court the officer's mother is dying and that she faxed a motion for a continuance on Wednesday.

But Judge John Carassas said he couldn't find the fax, so he had no choice but to grant Leslie Annand's motion to dismiss the case.

"Officers responding to emergencies must use due care,'' Leslie Annand told the St. Petersburg Times.

The Annand sisters' parents also were on hand.

"I just cannot understand why someone wouldn't come,'' their mother, Katherine Annand, said. "It's almost like ignoring an invitation to a big event.''

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Driver accused of hitting Clearwater patrol car wins case by default 08/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 28, 2009 1:23pm]
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