Jul 30, 2014

Speed Camera Vandal Apologizes, Pleads Guilty

Bruce May said what he did was 'very, very stupid."

Speed Camera Vandal Apologizes, Pleads Guilty

The operator who was on duty the day that was just trying to do his job, he said in court Wednesday.

May, of Elicott City, was ordered to pay $458 restitution to the speed camera vendor; to commit to 40 hours of community service, and to one year of probation, which will not appear on his record once served in accordance with the law. 

He apologized directly to the speed camera operator, Pieter Lucas. 

“What I did was very, very stupid,” May said in Wednesday.  “I’m sorry I did it and I’m sorry I put Mr. Lucas in harm’s way.”

Lucas' job has put him in harm's way before.   

In  2005, while working as a volunteer auxiliary officer, Lucas was hit by a Chevy Blazer, which pinned him to his car. Part of his left leg was amputated as a result of the crash. 

Lucas still works as an auxiliary officer and now, as a speed camera operator.

He was sitting in a van on June 26, operating a mobile speed camera near when he heard a thud, according to charging documents.

He said he looked out the window and saw a gray van driving off. When he got out of his vehicle, according to the documents, Lucas saw a quarter-sized dent in the side panel. Then, he saw the same van pass by once going eastbound on Frederick Road, then again, driving westbound.

The third time he saw the van, Lucas said, he saw the driver shoot something at the car with a slingshot. Lucas followed the van, according to the charging documents, and got the driver to stop. He called police and May was arrested. 

“I’m just trying to do my job without being injured,” Lucas said in his statement to the court. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” 

"It’s very frustrating," Judge Mary. C. Reese said, "because Mr. Lucas doesn’t deserve this.”

Attacks on speed camera operators are not unheard of. 

Sean Collins, a spokesman for State and Local Solutions said in his statement to the court that a speed camera operator had been shot and killed in Arizona

“The monetary value is not what’s important here,” he said.  “It’s the safety of the operators.” 

In Maryland, too, speed cameras and their operators have been assaulted. Lucas did not have much to say after court, just that people do harass him “occasionally” as he performs his job. 

His boss, speed camera program administrator Fred Von Briesen, said and that on Route 29, where the Maryland State Highway Authority operates work-zone speed cameras, people have thrown rocks and drinks at a speed camera operator near the Route 40 exit.

According to Howard County Police, someone threw rocks through the window of a State Highway Administration work-zone speed camera van on U.S. 29 near Route 103, hitting the operator and damaging the equipment and vehicle.

The next day, according to police, someone threw something at aspeed camera van on Route 99 near  Waverly Elementary School, breaking the back window.

Von Breisen said that he hoped May’s case would keep other people from harassing speed camera operators.

May pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and malicious damage of property, less than $500. He will not spend any time in jail. 

“I don’t believe that anybody here has asked that he be put in jail,” May’s lawyer, John Moody said.

What it boiled down to, Moody told reporters in the District Court lobby, was that May had a bad day.

“We can all identify,” he said. May is out of work and had been cited by the same camera twice in the two weeks before the incident.

May, who did not speak with reporters, looked decidedly different than in his appearance on WJZ news. Clean shaven, he addressed the judge in a brown suit and wearing glasses.

“I wasn’t thinking,” May told judge Mary C. Reese. “I was just acting.”

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This article has been edited to correct the spelling of Pieter Lucas's name.

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