Westport man found not guilty in hashbrown dispute
WESTPORT — A Westport man who spent months arguing Westport police mistook a hashbrown for a cellphone in charging him with a distracted driving ticket was found not guilty.
“Not guilty! Justice prevails,” Westport resident Jason Stiber said in an email to the Westport News on April 26, shortly after Judge Maureen Dennis of the state Superior Court in Norwalk released her decision.
The hashbrown incident occurred April 11 around 6 a.m., when Stiber bought a hash brown at the McDonald’s on the Norwalk border and was then pulled over by Westport Police Cpl. Wong Won near the Westport Whole Foods on Post Road West.
“I was eating a hash brown and he thought he saw a cellphone near my mouth,” Stiber said in November. He was issued a $300 ticket for distracted driving.
Stiber said he had no reason to put his phone up to his ear because he has bluetooth, and provided phone records showing he did not make any calls in the hour he received the ticket.
“He was pulled over for talking on his cellphone and given an infraction. I’m sure his claim is different,” Lt. Jillian Cabana said in November.
A Westport resident since 2007, Stiber first went to trial to fight the ticket in August before a magistrate judge, who found him guilty despite the presentation of the phone activity records. Stiber then requested a retrial, which ocured Feb. 22.
“I just think this is a classic example of the truism that cops make mistakes. They’re human beings like everyone else and sometimes they get things wrong,” Stiber’s attorney John Thygerson said.
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