By Doug Richards, December 4, 2013
CHAMBLEE, Ga. -- One Saturday in November, Kaveh Kamooneh drove his
Nissan Leaf to Chamblee Middle School, where his 11-year-old son was
Kamooneh had taken the liberty of charging the electric car with an
exterior outlet at the school. Within minutes of plugging in the car, he
says a Chamblee police officer appeared.
"He said that he was going to charge me with theft by taking because I
was taking power, electricity from the school," Kamooneh said.
Kamooneh says he had charged his car for 20 minutes, drawing about a
nickel's worth of juice. Don Francis of Clean Cities Atlanta, an
electric vehicle advocacy group, says the estimate of 5 cents is
"I'm not sure how much electricity he stole," said Chamblee police
Sergeant Ernesto Ford, but he added: It doesn't matter. "He broke the
law. He stole something that wasn't his."
Sgt. Ford says the officer should have arrested Kamooneh on the spot.
But he didn't. Instead, the officer filed a police report. Then 11 days
passed, and two deputies showed up at his house in Decatur.
"They arrested me here at about eight o'clock at night," Kamooneh said.
Ford said he sought the arrest warrant after determining that school
officials hadn't given Kamooneh permission to plug in his car. Ford said
Chamblee Police did so without asking school officials if they wanted
to prosecute the alleged theft of electricity. A DeKalb Schools
spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Records show Kamooneh spent more than 15 hours in the DeKalb County Jail for plugging his car into a school's electrical outlet.
Kamooneh acknowledges he hadn't asked permission first. "When I got
there, there was nobody there. It was a Saturday morning," he said.
"A theft is a theft," Sgt. Ford said. When asked if he'd make the arrest again, he answered: "Absolutely."
Wednesday afternoon, DeKalb County School District spokesman Quinn
Hudson released a statement saying the school system "has cooperated in
the investigation and will continue to do so."
Wednesday evening, Chamblee City Manager and Police Chief Marc Johnson issued the following statement:
We received a 911 call advising that someone was plugged into the
power outlet behind the middle school. The responding officer located
the vehicle in the rear of the building at the kitchen loading dock up
against the wall with a cord run to an outlet. The officer spent some
time trying to determine whose vehicle it was. It was unlocked and he
eventually began looking through the interior after verifying it did not
belong to the school system.
The officer, his marked patrol vehicle and the electric vehicle were all
in clear view of the tennis courts. Eventually, a man on the courts
told the officer that the man playing tennis with him owned the vehicle.
The officer went to the courts and interviewed the vehicle owner. The
officer's initial incident report gives a good indication of how
difficult and argumentative the individual was to deal with. He made no
attempt to apologize or simply say oops and he wouldn't do it again.
Instead he continued being argumentative, acknowledged he did not have
permission and then accused the officer of having damaged his car door.
The officer told him that was not true and that the vehicle and existing
damage was already on his vehicles video camera from when he drove up.
Given the uncooperative attitude and accusations of damage to his
vehicle, the officer chose to document the incident on an incident
report. The report was listed as misdemeanor theft by taking. The
officer had no way of knowing how much power had been consumed, how much
it cost nor how long it had been charging.
The report made its way to Sgt Ford's desk for a follow up
investigation. He contacted the middle school and inquired of several
administrative personnel whether the individual had permission to use
power. He was advised no. Sgt. Ford showed a photo to the school
resource officer who recognized Mr. Kamooneh. Sgt Ford was further
advised that Mr. Kamooneh had previously been advised he was not allowed
on the school tennis courts without permission from the school . This
was apparently due to his interfering with the use of the tennis courts
previously during school hours.
Based upon the totality of these circumstances and without any expert
advice on the amount of electricity that may have been used, Sgt Ford
signed a theft warrant. The warrant was turned over to the DeKalb
Sheriffs Dept for service because the individual lived in Decatur, not
Chamblee. This is why he was arrested at a later time.
I am sure that Sgt. Ford was feeling defensive when he said a theft is a
theft and he would do it again. Ultimately, Sgt. Ford did make the
decision to pursue the theft charges, but the decision was based on Mr.
Kamooneh having been advised that he was not allowed on the property
without permission. Had he complied with that notice none of this would
have occurred. Mr. Kamooneh's son is not a student at the middle school
and he was not the one playing tennis. Mr. Kamooneh was taking lessons