WINNIPEG - No one supports Manitoba’s law banning cell phone use by drivers more than Cheryl Derry. Her husband Mark was killed last fall in a crash with another driver suspected of texting behind the wheel.
But she’s upset at news officers ticketed an elderly man who doesn’t even own a cell phone and insists he wasn’t using one when police stopped him last Friday.
“To me it’s like the law is a joke, that nobody including the police, are taking it seriously. And to me, to my family, it’s really serious,” Cheryl Derry told Global News on Tuesday. “I mean, what it, a money grab?” she asks.
Winnipeg police refused again Tuesday to discuss the case of Laszlo Piszker who says officers stopped him on Portage Avenue Friday and refused to take him up on his offer to search his car for the cell phone they claimed they saw him talking on while driving.
“I said that’s impossible, I haven’t got a phone,” Piszker said in an interview Monday.
He was with his wife, Margaret who says officers yelled at her and threatened to arrest her when she tried to argue.
“It upset me, it really upset,” she said tearfully in an interview Monday. The couple is in their 70s.
A spokesperson for Manitoba’s Transportation Minister said Tuesday that Steve Ashton would also not discuss the issue – even background questions about how the province intended the law be enforced when it was passed in 2009. The province referred all questions to Winnipeg police.
The Piszkers have vowed to fight the $199 ticket in court when their case comes up in May. They’ll be assisted by former police officer Len Eastoe, who says the case has made the couple lose faith in police – and hasn’t done much to back up Chief Keith McCaskill’s efforts to build bridges between police and the public.
“He’s tried to make communities better and feelings better between the community and the police service. This just tears that apart in my opinion,” says Eastoe.