Monday, April 30, 2012

Scott Powell Arrested For Shooting Up Unmanned Speed Enforcement Vehicle In Santa Fe, New Mexico

A man who decided he'd had enough of the proliferation of passive traffic enforcement measures around the country and decided to take direct action in his hometown was booked into the Santa Fe County jail on Friday April 27th, 2012 after a chase around downtown Santa Fe. Scott Powell is accused of having shot up an unmanned speed enforcement vehicle in Santa Fe. He is being charged with felony criminal damage to property and negligent use of a firearm stemming from the speed-camera incident, as well as aggravated fleeing from a peace officer and aggravated assault on a peace officer stemming from a subsequent chase on Friday. The Santa Fe New Mexican has the primary media story.

The 63-year-old Powell is suspected of being the star in the video embedded below, which shows an older man walking up to an unmanned speed enforcement vehicle on April 11th and firing three shots into it. Damage is estimated at $1,000. The video, presented on a report by The Young Turks, has gone viral:

However, a screenshot of one of the frames indicates Powell didn't completely finish the job. While the bullet holes in the windshield are visible, Powell completely missed the camera:

The New Mexican reveals that a snitch is responsible for siccing the cops on Powell. Police then determined that Powell matched the physical appearance of the shooter and owned a car similar to the one visible in the video, a gray 2011 Audi (KASA Channel 2 says it was a red Audi). Powell had agreed to talk to police, but on Friday, while police were at his home trying to serve a warrant, Powell pulled up in a blue Audi, saw the cops, and fled. Powell eventually surrendered to police at a doctor’s office on Calle Medico. Powell has no criminal history except for some speeding tickets.

Unmanned speed enforcement vehicles, like red-light cameras and photo radar cameras, are generally operated by private contractors. They take photos of the vehicles of violators. Using the license plate numbers, most jurisdictions will then send a citation to the registered owner of the vehicle. Most jurisdictions also offer an appeal process by which if the owner was not driving the vehicle at the time, he or she can appeal and get the citation quashed. RedFlex Traffic Systems of Scottsdale, Arizona provides the service in Santa Fe, operating a pair of SUVs with Santa Fe Police Department markings.

The St. Pete Camera website presents common arguments for and arguments against the use of traffic cameras. Proponents like to use economic arguments to support traffic cameras; they claim it can reduce public expenditures and improve genuine crime fighting by diverting cops to higher-priority tasks. However, traffic cameras are incapable of rendering the subjective judgment used by a live cop to determine on the spot if there were any mitigating factors, such as traffic, weather, and illumination. In addition, citations can be missent or even lost in the mail. Sometimes saving money isn't the end-all be-all solution.

Public Reaction: Surprisingly, many of the comments to the New Mexican are supportive of the speed enforcement vehicles. In contrast, comments posted to YouTube are almost universally supportive of Scott Powell, with some characterizing him as a hero. One commenter to the KOB Channel 4 story, Patty M Mabry, says there might be some personal mitigating circumstances; Powell recently lost his wife to Huntington's Disease, and his daughter's just been diagnosed with it.


  1. "Patty M Mabry, says there might be some personal mitigating circumstances; Powell recently lost his wife to Huntington's Disease, and his daughter's just been diagnosed with it. "

    No idea what that has to do with anything. He either shot up the car or he didn't.

    If videotaping/picture taking is ok in public places then it should be ok for everyone and in all public places. So, for instance, we should have hidden cameras in courts, state warehouses, senators offices, etc etc. If the public has a need to snoop on potential speeders on public roads, we have a need to snoop on potential criminal activity everywhere on public property.

    1. Personal mitigating circumstance: The guy is a psycho. The disease in his family has nothing to do with him being a psycho.

      Personal non-mitigating circumstance: His daughter is a psycho too.

  2. "If the public has a need to snoop on potential speeders on public roads,"Sorry, they are not "public"roads.They are private roads.We the people paid, build and maintain all roads.All roads,highways are private.People are not part of the "public=corporations".It is the public=corporation who needs to get approval from the private(people) in order for them to use OUR roads.
    They are flim-flammers."By way of deception)tricks)"
    Wake up people.....

  3. Let the fun begin.