East CLE traffic cam issues ticket to grandmother while her van was being towed

EAST CLEVELAND — Joann Gibson of Cleveland said she was stunned when she was mailed a $105 speeding ticket from the City of East Cleveland, even though the ticket’s picture clearly showed her van being towed when the alleged violation took place.

Gibson told News 5 that her van broke down on Dec. 20, and she was visiting her daycare center when her car was towed to a repair shop. Gibson said she couldn’t understand why she was sent two violations when the pictures on the traffic camera ticket clearly showed her van being towed.

“What are they doing? I’m at the center getting this ticket and my car is on a flat bed, I’m not driving that truck,” Gibson said. “I shouldn’t be getting nothing like this, they should be giving the tow truck driver a ticket or the person who owns the towing company.”

Gibson said he went to the East Cleveland police department to try and explain the ticket was a mistake but said officers instructed him to call the out-of-town third party vendor who was operating and issuing the traffic camera tickets. Gibson is now concerned that erroneous tickets could have an impact on his driving record and insurance rates.

“Went into the police station, pushing buttons, ringing the bell to find some help,” Gibson said. “I don’t want anything on my drivers license, so far I have a good record, and I’m going to try and keep it that way.”

East Cleveland Council President Twon Billings told News 5 he’s now trying to help Gibson get the speeding tickets expunged and is calling for the traffic camera on Euclid Avenue to be removed because he believes it’s an unfair burden on low-income drivers.

“The vehicle was on a tow truck, how many people didn’t see that before they sent it to her address, and I feel like it’s more of a money grab than it is a deterrent,” Billings said. “I would like to see it was removed, I mean the law was already passed, that council voted for this camera to be removed.”

But Billings told News 5 the council vote was not recognized by East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King who continues to support the use of the camera as a safety and enforcement tool.

East Cleveland Clerk of City Council Eric Brewer told News 5 he believes the Euclid Avenue traffic camera is operating outside State of Ohio guidelines. These guidelines state that the cameras must be utilized while a police officer is present and on the scene, which Brewer said is not happening.

“There’s supposed to be a police officer at the red-light camera, they’re supposed to authenticate the tickets on the spot,” Brewer said. “They bypass the court, they’re issuing the citations, there’s no due process in this procedure to say that this is a debt and they’re just adding $50 collection fees to individuals who are already poor.”

News 5 reached out to both East Cleveland Mayor Brandon King and East Cleveland Law Director Willa Hemmons for this story, but we’re still waiting for a response.

Brewer told News 5 that the validity of the East Cleveland traffic camera will be discussed during the March 29 council budget meeting. News 5 will follow up on this developing story.

Meanwhile, Gibson is urging other drivers to look for discrepancies and fight the traffic camera tickets if they have a valid case.

“I’m kind of angry about it, when I get kind of angry I want to find out what’s really going on, and I think other people should come forward and don’t pay them,” Gibson said. “That’s not right, they’re going to try and charge me some money, well then what are you going to do with that money when you look at the ticket and see it’s not right.”

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