Most of the time, an arrest is a serious matter. A crime has been committed, a perp has been apprehended, and charges will likely be laid, the whole ordeal to be sorted out in court as soon as possible. Thing is, sometimes the law, in its seriousness, gets downright silly. This is when we see some of the weird arrests made, the ones that serve the letter of the law, and not the intent – or else are the result of police gone mad with power.
That’s not to say this is a list devoted to shaming the men and women in blue. Most cops are probably good cops, and there are a few entries on this list that feature police doing their job admirably. To fairly represent the craziness that occasionally seeps into the justice system, we’ve compiled a combination of seriously weird criminals, silly laws, and occasional overreaches by law enforcement officials. Could these be the twenty downright nuttiest arrests of all time?
20. Tom Waits Was Arrested For Stopping Cops From Bullying Civilians
Tom Waits is an odd guy. How odd? Odd enough that Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was based on him. Back in 1977, his weirdness worked against him when he was arrested by plainclothes police officers who alleged he was disturbing the peace.
Turns out it was the other way around, at least according to the court proceedings. Waits claimed he was trying to intervene in a confrontation between the officers and a group of customers, and was arrested by the officers after they identified who they were. Waits beat the charges, then sued the officers and won a settlement of $7500.
19. James Scott Broke A Dam So He Could Sleep Around
Monogamy isn’t for everybody. Neither, it would seem, is life as a free person. Take the case of James Scott as an example. This is a man twice arrested for arson, a man who, in 1996, took to destroying a dam after being released from the clink. Why? He wanted to booze it up, have some fun, and sleep around on his wife while she was stuck on the other side of the river.
The trouble was, witnesses claimed he had been bragging about busting a levee, and he was spotted near the levee when it failed. He was sentenced to 10 to life for causing a disaster, and will only be eligible for parole in 2023.
18. An American Was Arrested For Trying to Swim to North Korea.
Unless you’re Dennis Rodman, you’re probably not going to get in and out of North Korea with any amount of ease. Trying to swim there from South Korea is just extra foolishness. Of course, that’s exactly what happened back in September. An unnamed Texan was found on a riverbank by guards in South Korea, and subsequently arrested. Turns out you can’t just enter restricted military zones and get away with it.
This gentleman is just the latest in a long line of people caught trying to enter the land of the Kims. He should be thankful he didn’t suffer the fate of some who made it in: several Americans have been arrested in North Korea and held in prison camps after being “tried” for espionage.
17. Earl Sampson Was Arrested For Going To Work
Add “getting arrested for having a job” to the laundry list of things black people have to worry about. That, at least, in Miami Gardens, where a man named Earl Sampson, by 2013, had been confronted by police more than 500 times, and jailed 56. This while he was at work at his convenience store job.
Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled about it. Neither was his boss – it turns out productivity goes down when your employees are carted off to jail.
16. Edwin Tobergta Was Arrested For Getting It On With A Raft
Mental illness isn’t something to laugh at, but it’s hard not to chuckle a bit at the story of Edwin Tobergta. Earlier this year, he was arrested for having sex with an inflatable raft in a public location. He’d also been arrested for that same crime in 2013. And In 2011. And in 2002, but that time with an inflatable pumpkin.
It’s a strange compulsion, and frankly one that sounds painful, so it’s a little distressing that Tobergta doesn’t seem to be getting the help that he needs. At the very least, he needs to understand that a man and his raft should keep their bedroom activities in the bedroom.
15. Alexa Gonzalez Was Handcuffed For Writing On A Desk
When you see someone getting taken away in handcuffs, you figure something pretty serious is going down. Maybe an assault, or some sort of drug offense. Or drawing on desks, apparently. That’s what happened to Alexa Gonzalez, who in 2010 was taken away from her Queens jr. high school for writing “I love my friends Abby and Faith,” and “Lex was here. 2/1/10.” She also drew a smiley face. She was also 12 at the time.
To add to the bizarreness, there had apparently been several incidents of that sort in and around New York City – including one where a kindergartner had been taken to a psych ward after throwing a tantrum.
14. Pedophile Captured After Evidence Accidentally Stolen By Thief
Most of the time, thievery just leads to a headache and bad feelings. Sometimes, though, there’s good that comes of the whole thing. Take the 2013 case of a thief who took tapes during a robbery in Spain. The tapes contained footage of criminal sexual abuse involving children, and also allowed the police to identify a person for arrest. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the man had also reported a break in at his home the week prior.
13. Nancy Lack Was Arrested For Taking Down Posters Of Obama With A Hitler Stache
So many people are compared to Hitler these days that it’s possible there’s some genuine confusion. Only Hitler was Hitler, and he’s no longer Hitler, as he’s dead.
While that’s hopefully something most people have had sorted for a while, in 2012 the political campaign of independent presidential candidate Lyndon Larouche didn’t care, and had posters of Obama with a Hitler moustache put up in public spaces.
Nancy Lack, 80, was alive during WWII, and remembered that Obama is not Hitler, and that it was quite an offensive thing to say that he was. She took down the posters and was arrested for larceny and breach of peace. Thankfully, charges were not laid against her.
12. Siblings Were Arrested For Having Sex In A Church Parking Lot
With the exception of the book of Genesis, Christianity is not big on incest. In fact, it actively discourages it. The point is, Christopher Buckner (left) and Timothy Savoy (right) might have found a better place in which to engage in incestuous relations than the parking lot of a church back in August of this year.
To be fair to the two, they had just finished watching The Notebook prior to engaging in their activities. The two were arrested and charged with incest, aggravated sodomy, and prowling, and serve as a fine example of why you should always practice private The Notebook watching.
11. A Sober Man Was Arrested For Drunk Driving
The neat thing about getting arrested for drunk driving is that in most cases, it’s a thing that’s easy to test for. You blow into a breathalyser, you’re told what your blood alcohol level is, and you’re dealt with according to the laws of the place you are in. That, unless you’re Larry Davis.
In 2013, Davis was arrested in Austin, Texas for driving under the influence. When the police brought him in to the station, he was given the breathalyser test, and then he blew a 0.00… and spent the night in jail.
10. An Innocent Man Arrested For Explosives Belonging To Slovak Police
Police often carry out training exercises to help prepare for future criminal activity. That shouldn’t be a new concept. What’s a little distressing, though, is the manner in which some of these activities are carried out. For instance, back in 2010 a Slovak police operation involved placing explosives in civilians’ bags, meant to help test the protocols in place to detect explosives.
Distressing enough, the idea that regular peoples’ baggage was being used instead of dummy luggage. Worse was that the police lost track of one of the bags. The man carrying them was arrested when he arrived home, then released when it became clear that he had no idea what was going on.
9. An Anti-Gay Rights Senator Arrested For Driving Drunk From A Gay Bar
It’s not the first time that anti-gay figures have been found in compromising (read: gay) environs or situations, but Roy Ashburn’s story is special in that it is one of redemption.
In 2010, then-senator Roy Ashburn was arrested on a Wednesday morning for driving drunk. From a gay club. With a man in the car with him. None of this would be especially noteworthy if Ashburn hadn’t consistently opposed legislation meant to improve the lot of the LGBTQ community.
8. Francis de Groot Was Arrested For Cutting A Ribbon
In 1932 Australia, it started as typical political photo-op nonsense, a ribbon cutting ceremony to open a bridge for the public. And then suddenly it became way more badass.
March 19, 1932, with Premier of New South Wales Jack Lang about to cut the ribbon, a man named Francis de Groot rode up on his horse, and slashed through the ribbon with a sword. According to Australian Geographic, “de Groot declared the bridge open in the name of ‘the decent and respectable people of New South Wales’.”
7. Richard Handl Was Arrested For Asking About Atomic Fission
There are safer hobbies than playing with radiation – that’s part of why it’s a criminal offense to try to build your own reactor, or to otherwise play around with nuclear material. Of course, not everyone knows this, and so before setting out on his experiment to split atoms, Richard Handl of Sweden sent a message to the Swedish Radiation Authority to ask if it was okay for him to do so.
In short, it wasn’t. He was arrested, though he’d not yet had a chance to build his reactor, and the guardian humorously reported that he has been banned from pursuing his nuclear interests by both the radiation authority and his landlord.
6. A Substitute Teacher Was Brought In For Posting “Creepshots” Of High Schoolers
In some bizarre and sad corners of the internet, photos taken of unsuspecting women are celebrated. The more revealing the shot, the better. Needless to say, the subjects of the photos aren’t fans. It also goes without saying that when a high school student discovers themselves on a creepshot page – and that the photographer was a substitute teacher – things are not going to end well for the accused.
5. Roger Gorley Was Arrested For Visiting His Husband At The Hospital
Chalk this one up to silly hospital policies and bad tempers clashing in an unfortunate way. When Allen, Gorley’s partner, was in hospital, Gorley was asked by Allen’s family and the hospital, both, to leave. This, despite being in a civil union with Allen. He demanded that the hospital look into their legal status, and when neither party refused to budge from their position, he was escorted from the premises and arrested.
4. A Chinese Police Officer Was Arrested For Throwing A Child
Drunken shenanigans are all good fun… provided they don’t lead you to grab a baby and throw it to the ground. That’s the unfortunate outcome of a night of rowdiness back in August, 2013. An off-duty police officer in his 50s reportedly thought an infant girl was a doll, and grabbed her from her father and threw her.
To make matters worse, the incident was then covered up by police for about a month. In the end, the culprit was arrested, and though the girl suffered a skull fracture, she wound up being okay. The family also received financial compensation from the police department.
3. Tremaine McMillian Was Arrested For Playing With A Puppy
Ideally, children live happy lives full of play. Sometimes, though, those lives take dangerous turns, and police have to get involved. This was not one of those times – but that didn’t stop the police.
Tremaine McMillian was arrested in 2013, at the age of 14, for playing with his puppy. According to the Miami New Times, and in defence of the police, they alleged that he had been engaged in rough play with another boy, and then shot “dehumanizing stares” at them.
The boy was placed in a choke hold by police, and the puppy’s left paw was injured in the scuffle.
2. Roxanne Rubin Arrested For Voter Fraud
Voter fraud is indeed a real crime, and should be punished. What makes Roxanne Rubin’s case special is that she attempted voter fraud in an attempt to prove that voter fraud is easy, and a real threat to democracy.
It turns out it’s a hard thing to fool voting officials, and so Rubin was arrested for voter fraud in the 2012 American election. According to The Huffington Post, she was sentenced to paying a nearly $2,500 fine, completing community service, and taking an “impulse control course.”
1. Terry Allen Lester Was Arrested For Building An Exploding Vibrator
Here’s the thing about getting revenge after a breakup: it’s stupid. Take the case of Terry Lester for an example. According to The Smoking Gun, as a “gift” to one of his exes, he planned on giving a vibrator filled with gunpower and buckshot, and “’when the device was inserted into the female he would pull the trigger and it would blow them up.’”
Luckily, Lester at the time lived with a woman who discovered the device, and she took it to police, who promptly arrested the man. He was charged with a variety of crimes, with a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.