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Home » Criminal Law » N. Carolina Man Arrested for Not Returning VHS from 2002

N. Carolina Man Arrested for Not Returning VHS from 2002

A hand holds a VHS tape of "Freddy Got Fingered" in front of flashing police lightsIf you’ve ever rented the classic family film “Freddy Got Fingered,” watch out. There might be a warrant out for your arrest.

Okay that’s not entirely true. But it’s not entirely false, either! Just look at what happened to this guy in Concord, North Carolina on Tuesday: James Meyers was driving his daughter to school that morning when an officer pulled him over and informed him that there was a warrant out for his arrest. The crime? Renting a VHS copy of “Freddy Got Fingered” in 2002… and never returning it.

Video Rental Stores Are Apparently Relentless

Or rather, video rental stores were apparently relentless. Because those places are pretty much obsolete across the board.

But do you really think video rental stores were so weak that something like “going out of business” could stop them from enacting retribution on thieves? If James Meyers ever thought that, he probably doesn’t think it anymore. That’s right, Meyers — somehow, some way, justice will be served.

All joking aside, I’m probably making this situation sound more ridiculous than it actually is. Meyers wasn’t pulled over because police officers were scouring the state looking for VHS thieves. One of his tail-lights was out!

It was while the officer was checking Meyer’s license that warrant popped up. And it doesn’t seem like the cop’s reaction was terribly unreasonable, like he got all fired up and said, “HOO boy, someone call the chief, we finally got him.” No, Meyers and his daughter sat in their car for approximately 25 minutes before the officer returned with his license and politely asked him to step out of the car.

“I don’t know how to tell you this,” the officer said, “but there’s a warrant out for your arrest from 2002. Apparently you rented the movie “Freddy Got Fingered” and never returned it.”

That’s a pretty fair way to break this kind of news, so props to the cop on this one. And they even let Meyers go ahead and drop his daughter off at school as long as he promised to meet back at the police station later.

Law Enforcement: Just Doing Its “Job”

So, here’s where we are so far: James Meyers was driving his kid to school, got pulled over for a broken tail-light, an unreturned VHS tape showed up on his criminal record, and he was told to come to the station later to get things sorted out.

At that point, from Meyers’s perspective, the situation was weird but proceeding reasonably. He figured he’d show up at the police station, talk to some officers, do some paperwork, and it’d all be over.

Instead, he got handcuffed and was escorted into the magistrate’s office. It was the first time he’d ever been handcuffed. He was then informed that the warrant is indeed still open, he’s liable for a fine of up to $200, and his court date is scheduled for April 27.

Many people are hearing this story and remarking that the whole fiasco seems to be a waste of time and resources for police. That’s how Meyers feels too, and he expressed this sentiment to reporters:

“They’re not focusing on the crimes I think they should be focusing on. That hour the cops sat out there with me, the hour and a half I was down in the magistrate’s offices, could have been spent somewhere else.”

Meyers also posted a Youtube video recounting his experience, in which he states:

“That’s what my local law enforcement officers are up to. They’re not out here catching heroin dealers.”

Incidents like this do absolutely nothing to improve public opinions of law enforcement, especially in today’s society, when activists regularly march in the street protesting police corruption and countless criticisms are voiced every day on the internet.

But who’s to blame for unjust police behavior? Not only for low-stakes cases like this — but, most importantly, for tragedies like Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice? Should individual officers be the only ones held accountable when injustices occur, or is it the system as a whole that needs to be reevaluated?

After all, one has to consider the fact that, in many cases, police officers are just doing what they’ve been told is their job. As one former district attorney puts it, “Officers can’t not arrest them and that’s the issue.”

“The Principle of the Thing”

While this mostly harmless incident is appropriately overshadowed by cases of police corruption that demand immediately recognition, Meyers’s situation has also garnered a bit of attention online — most notably from Tom Green, who wrote, directed, and starred in “Freddy Got Fingered.”

Green reached out to Meyers and expressed his support, later mentioning in an Australian interview:

“I think it’s sort of an example of how bureaucracy can get out of control.”

Green has also said that he’s more than willing to do whatever he can to help, whether that means providing a statement backing Meyers in court or giving financial assistance to pay his fines. “If it’s 200 bucks of course I’ll pay it for him,” Green said, “just for the principle of the thing.”

While that’s nice for James Meyers, Tom Green can’t help out everybody who gets screwed over by corrupt law enforcement policies. More and more, it seems like the criminal justice system has secretly made the definition of “misdemeanor” interchangeable with that of “free money for us.” As long as American law enforcement remains a business, none of us should much progress in terms of the J in criminal Justice.

That’s where we come in. At Turner Law Offices, P.C., our team of attorneys have years of experience working with clients across a wide range of cases involving criminal misdemeanors — including those in which law enforcement is at fault. The most effective defense strategies are those crafted as soon as possible, so don’t wait to call our offices or go online to set up your free initial consultation. A skilled lawyer is ready and waiting to guide you toward the justice you deserve.

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