Dateline: Louisiana—Wildlife officials in New Orleans have confiscated four monkeys dressed as pirates from an autistic woman who was visiting the city for Carnival. Floridian Joan Newberger, 64, and her caretaker, James Poole, told WWL-TV reporters they and the four monkeys were wearing pirate costumes on Bourbon Street when police and wildlife agents approached them and seized the primates. Newberger said the seizure was illegal because the monkeys are registered as her “service monkeys” since they provide “emotional support.” Asked about her disability, Newberger said, “I can’t vacuum. I can’t be in water. I don't, none of that. My feet are real itchy now. My, everything bothering me.” According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the monkeys in question do not meet the Americans With Disabilities Act’s definition of service animals. Also, possession of non-human primates has been illegal in Louisiana since 2006. No word on why Newberger needs four helper animals. Or what medical purpose the pirate costumes served. Maria Davidson, large carnivore program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, told reporters that Newberger and Poole were acting as “street performers” and were charging tourists to take pictures with the nautical-themed monkeys. Newberger is scheduled to appear in the Orleans Parish municipal court in July to petition for the return of her monkeys.
Dateline: California—A “distraught” female student called 911 on her cell phone after a teacher allegedly rattled a desk to get students’ attention in math class. Atherton police Sgt. Tim Lynch told the Palo Alto Daily News that officers responded to Selby Lane School on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 1, on reports that a teacher was causing a disturbance. What they found was teacher John Haynes calmly instructing an eighth-grade math class. According to police, the student who called 911 was “scared” by the teacher’s desk-rattling. Other students, however, did not appear to be bothered by the teacher’s actions. Nonetheless, Redwood City School District Deputy Superintendent John Baker said the teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave because of the police response.
Dateline: California—A woman, attempting to stop her husband from driving while high on methamphetamines, climbed onto the hood of his minivan as he exited the driveway. That didn’t exactly dissuade him. According to police in Manteca, 36-year-old Christopher Carroll sped off with his wife still clinging to the hood. The woman, who was not identified by name since she is a victim of domestic violence, stayed on the hood even as the vehicle reached speeds of 100 mph. She eventually rolled off the hood when Carroll slowed down in the town of Pleasanton—more than 50 miles from the couple’s home. Carroll was arrested back at his home in Manteca. He has been charged with attempted murder and domestic violence.
Dateline: Texas—An off-duty police officer has been relieved of duty after reportedly tossing a tear gas canister into an opponent’s booth at the Houston Rodeo’s annual barbecue cook-off, sickening several people. Senior police officer Mike Hamby, 51, is under investigation now for “criminal allegations.” The day after the allegations surfaced, Hamby resigned as a member of the Houston Police Officers’ Union’s board of directors. Rodeo officials said they were “astounded” by the incident that resulted in the tear gas grenade being set off inside the booth of a team competing in the popular barbecue competition. Several guests had to be evacuated from a nearby USO tent. “We became the unwelcome recipients of the gas as well,” Susie Barlow, director of the USO center in Houston, told the Houston Chronicle. “We were devastated by it. We have elderly people, and I have two folks that night who were a double and triple amputee in wheelchairs.” Houston Police could not comment on the incident, which is being investigated by internal affairs, but an HPD investigator familiar with the incident said that Hamby was off-duty and was participating in the cook-off when he allegedly threw the canister. “He was not in uniform, and he was not serving in any police capacity when he did this,” confirmed Leroy Shafer, chief operating officer of the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show. About 330 teams competed in this year’s barbecue cook-off. According to the Houston Chronicle, Hamby—who joined HPD in 1980—has had seven previous complaints sustained against him, including misconduct, improper police procedure and two accidents.