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An Idle Threat? Man Arrested For Leaving Car Running In Sacramento Parking Lot

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento man spent a day in jail after leaving his car idling outside of a South Sacramento 7-Eleven.

Craig Williams was arrested Friday morning for resisting arrest after a struggle with a Sacramento Police officer. Cellphone video captured the interaction outside of the convenience store on 43rd Avenue.

In the video, Williams is heard repeatedly saying to the officer, "Come on, man."

arrested after idling erin darby ortiz

Erin Ortiz posted the video on Facebook and wrote that her boyfriend was arrested for breaking a law she'd never heard of: leaving your car idling while unattended.

"Technically, it's illegal to leave your vehicle idling and without a brake set on a highway," said attorney Michael Wise.

Wise said the law dates back to the 1920s and broadly defines a "highway" to include both a freeway and surface streets.

"But it's limited to public areas that are publically maintained," he explained. "This appears to be a private parking lot where the vehicle code technically would not even apply."

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A 7-Eleven employee confirmed it is a private lot. But Wise said even when the idling law is broken, the consequence should be a citation.

"They are not allowed to take you into custody for that offense unless you refuse to sign the ticket," Wise said.

"I think it could have been resolved by a simple conversation," said Christian Dapaah, a local driver.

But the Sacramento Police Department says the officer tried to make contact with Williams due to multiple law violations, and that Williams was detained after he was uncooperative, refused to talk with the officer and then struggled with the officer. Friday's police log says Williams was arrested for resisting arrest.

Customer Joseph Romeo told CBS13 he would never leave his car idling outside. But he's not sure Williams' punishment was appropriate.

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"Arrested?" he said. "Probably not! But probably cited or ticketed."

As an African-American man, Dapaah said he's not happy about how the situation escalated.

"We've been the victims of overreactions of these officers too many times so when you see this, it's a little bit disheartening!"

Williams and his girlfriend are meeting with the NAACP to figure out where they stand legally.

Meanwhile, Sacramento police say this case is still under investigation.

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