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Minor fender-bender causes controversy

Friday, September 3, 2010

A fender-bender causing minimal damage and no injuries created controversy on the Marshall Democrat-News forum after it was discovered that one of the drivers was an off-duty Missouri Highway Patrolman.

The accident occurred at 5:23 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the corner of Salt Pond Avenue and East Vest Street. According to the police report the damage consisted of only paint transfer on the front left corner of the trooper's car and paint transfer on the left rear corner of the other person's vehicle.

According to report information, the trooper admitted the accident was his fault and stated that he failed to stop at the intersection.

The controversy that is driving the story in the forum revolves around whether or not the trooper received a ticket and if that choice was due to favoritism or professional courtesy.

Marshall Police Chief Mike Donnell said the decision on whether or not to issue a ticket is at the officer's discretion.

"We don't have a policy of writing or not writing tickets at the scene of an accident," Donnell said.

A mandatory ticket policy would lead to a number of bad tickets, he said. "Sometimes an accident is just an accident."

The police officer's first responsibility is handling the scene of the accident -- making sure the people needing medical attention get treated and clearing the flow of traffic, Donnell said.

"Quite frequently, we don't write tickets at accident scenes," he said. "When a properly licensed and insured driver admits the accident was his fault and knows what he did wrong, it may not make sense to pile on something else at that moment."

Contact Pat Nolan at


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I have had two accidents in Marshall that I have also not received a ticket for. One caused significant damage when I came around a turn and was blinded momentarily by the sun. The car in front of me had stopped for a turn and when I got my visor down to block the sun it was to late to stop and I hit the car. I admited fualt, stated my case and the officer took pity on me and said he too had noticed the sun at times at that turn. NO TICKET, I have also slipped on ice and spun off the road, only my vehicle was involved. Knowing it was a black ice situation around a turn and it was out of my control I again did not get a ticket. And I am not a cop, or for that matter I don't know the name of any cop in town. So yes tickets are given out at a descretion, just because the other guy happen to be a cop doesn't mean that was the sole reason or that the other person would have for sure got one because he/she wasn't a cop.

Sounds like minimul damage, no injuries, the cop admited fault and had insurance to cover everything, sounds like it would have been pretty tacky of the cop to give a ticket in that situation whether it's a cop or not if you ask me.

-- Posted by oldschool17 on Fri, Sep 3, 2010, at 3:14 PM

"sometimes an accident is just an accident" -

It is obvious to me this officer made a call based on favoritism! If this driver was supposed to stop, he should have stopped. The sign or signal said "Stop"! That is the law! Any other "Joe Blow" driver would have been given a ticket and ordered to pay expensive court cost. And if they would have attempted to state their case to the officer, he might have offered to take them to jail. There have been an aweful lot of bad tickets written in the past to private citizens involved in accidents (even when it was clearly the other person's fault). Many of us have been more deserving of an empathetic break rather than recieving tickets for something that we did not really do. Did we get any breaks, absolutely not! After all - an accident is just an accident! Why should an off duty officer be treated any different?

-- Posted by farmer'sgranddaughter on Fri, Sep 3, 2010, at 3:10 PM

If it had been the other drivers fault, I bet they would have gotten a ticket or worse:

-- Posted by UpRcrustPeopleGodisWatchn U on Fri, Sep 3, 2010, at 3:03 PM