Thursday, October 3, 2013

Canyon Inn Owner Videotapes Cottonwood Heights Bar Stakeout

Posted By on October 3, 2013, 2:00 PM

The Cottonwood Heights Police Department isn’t the only law-enforcement agency with which Canyon Inn owner Jim Stojack has had run-ins.---

By the end of 2011, he says, one of the few profitable nights for his bar was Tuesdays. But when 2012 began, Stojack says, Utah Highway Patrol, as well as Cottonwood Heights Police, began haunting the corner of 7200 South and Wasatch Boulevard in Cottonwood Heights, where his bar is situated.

At night, Stojack is rarely without his video camera. On Feb. 15, 2012, Stojack was parked on the street outside his bar, watching a UHP car park at the adjacent 7-Eleven. When two cars leave the Canyon Inn parking lot, the UHP car leaves and follows; Stojack then follows the UHP car, which turns onto Wasatch, going northbound, then pulls over to the shoulder, letting Stojack pass. Stojack keeps his speed at 48 miles per hour, staying in the left  lane. The trooper follows him briefly, before pulling him over.

UHP trooper Neil Green tells Stojack that he pulled him over for making an improper lane change, which Stojack says is a lie. Then, Green says Stojack drifted out of his lane, before settling on Stojack committing a left-lane violation because the bar owner was traveling in the fast lane. Stojack angrily points out no one was behind him.

“I was behind you,” Green says, somewhat confusingly, given that had pulled over so that Stojack could pass him.

When Green asks Stojack why he’s trembling, the bar owner replies, “You guys are ripping my business apart.” Green tells Stojack his bar has been “over-serving.”

Stojack was subsequently charged with two traffic violations, both misdemeanors. One was changing lanes without signaling, the other failure to display a license plate, something Green did not mention to Stojack at the time he pulled him over.

UHP Captain Steve Winward sat down with both 7-Eleven franchise owner Lani Roberts and Stojack after they complained to UHP about the sudden attention they were getting from its troopers.

UHP troopers do work overtime on Tuesdays, Winward says, but adds that he does not want his men staking out bars. “That’s not our way of doing business.” Winward promised them there would be no more UHP cars in their vicinity, a promise Stojack says has been kept.

When Stojack’s then-attorney Tyler Ayres got discovery on the case, he found that the dispatch log showed that the trooper was in a different position than the report Green filed on the Stojack stop.

Green’s report identified the location of the stop as being near the gravel pit, just before the turn onto I-215.

Winward says the log that dispatch had for Green showed the prior location Green had been in before stopping Stojack.

Stojack and Ayres argue Green gave dispatch a different address because he should have been in Sandy, rather than staking out Stojack’s bar.

“I don’t believe it was a mistake,” Ayres says. “Office  safety requires that [dispatch] know where officers are at all times.”

After Green failed to show up in Judge Gus Chin’s justice court in Holladay, Chin dismissed the two citations.

Winward says he doesn’t know where Green got the impression that the Canyon Inn had been overserving—from CHPD or UHP’s DUI squad, he speculated—but admitted he didn’t realize that UHP troopers had been at that location “so frequently,” as Stojack’s videos illustrated.

See also:

"Tensions Flare in Cottonwood Heights Again"

"Records Detail Cottonwood Heights Police 'Performance Standard'"

"In Your Face"

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Stephen Dark

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