Four Boonville Boys and the Cop’s Wife (Aug. 15, 2001)

Nobody disagrees on the basic facts. 

There is fundamental disagreement on the particulars.

The facts. 

It was Tuesday, the last day of July, two weeks ago, that four Boonville boys set out for Ukiah a little before four on a typically warm, late summer afternoon. They had flexible plans to see a movie. The boys seemed to have had more specific plans to drive around Ukiah looking at the babes, which is what they wound up doing for four hours once they arrived in the county seat.

Behind the wheel of a distinctive, older model car that transported the quartet over the hill to the inland fleshpots was an honor student at Boonville High School. He'll be a senior this year.  His parents bought him the car to get back and forth to school and his part-time job from his home in the hills above Boonville. With the A-student behind the wheel were three other Boonville honor students, two of them just graduated, the other a senior classmate of the driver. 

All four boys are nice kids, meaning they do well in school and don't annoy adults. None is criminally inclined. None is known or even suspected of sociopathic tendencies. The four are clean cut and polite, the dual visuals most often cited as instant proof that whoever has them walks the true path of righteousness. 

In this case of these four boys the visuals are also the fact. They are genuinely nice kids. 

But, like teenage boys everywhere, these four like to have mischievous fun. Sometimes the fun is misunderstood by people not in on the joke, and sometimes the fun can be dangerous in unforeseen ways.

Two weeks ago on that Tuesday in Ukiah, fun was both misunderstood and dangerous.

The Boonville boys got over to the Ukiah side of the hill a little after four. Just before Stipp Lane not far from where the Boonville Road meets highway 101, they passed a middleaged woman who was jogging. She was headed west, the boys were headed east for whatever excitement Ukiah might offer on a late Tuesday afternoon. 

The boys hooted at the jogger as they passed her. One of them may have shouted, "Run for the Twinkies." 

Anyone who walks or jogs along busy roads is accustomed to random insults from the sedentary, zipping by on their air conditioned pillows. Sometimes the sedentary, secure in the safe anonymity of their vehicles, are much more menacing. The sight of a earnest exerciser can provoke extreme expressions of random hostility, as the daily papers often remind us, and as any veteran walker or jogger can confirm. 

Women are much more likely to suffer insults than men, and of course, a lone woman out for some exercise is much more likely to be harmed by a transient maniac than a male is.

We live in a country teeming with unhappy people.

Two Tuesdays ago, the lady jogging along the Boonville Road on the Ukiah side of the hill ignored whatever it was the boys called out to her as they passed, but she noted the distinctive look of the vehicle they were in.

The jogger's irritation quickly turned to alarm when the car turned around and  then came up rapidly from behind her on the same side of the road she was running on. The car whizzed past, this time coming close to the jogger. As the car sped past her, one or more of the boys shouted something at her.

And this is where the facts begin to be disputed.

The jogger said the car swerved at her as it sped by her from behind on the same of the road. She said one or more boys yelled at her from the car's sun roof.  

The boys say the kid driving the car did not swerve the vehicle at the jogging woman. They do admit that they turned around to drive up behind her, and they admit that they "yelled stuff" at the jogger.

The jogger was Mrs. Phil Pintane, the wife of Lieutenant Phil Pintane of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department. Mrs. Pintane also works for the Sheriff's Department as a dispatcher. The Pintanes make their home not far from where Mrs. Pintane was jogging on the Boonville Road.

Several years ago, the late Dennis Wilhite of Anderson Valley, was arrested for trying to run over Mr. Pintane when he was out for a jog at the Ukiah end of the Boonville Road. 

Wilhite was something of a legend among local law enforcement, racking up a lengthy record of arrests on charges that ran the gamut of the penal code — everything from burglary to assault with a deadly weapon. Wilhite was not what anyone would call a law and order man. When Mr. Pintane saw Wilhite careening at him at a high rate of speed that day, neither he nor Wilhite was confused about Wilhite's intentions. Pintane dove out of the way and Wilhite was arrested soon afterwards. Not long after his attempt to literally knock off Lieutenant Pintane as Pintane got in his daily jog on the Boonville Road,  Wilhite jogged permanently off from a drug overdose in a Willits motel. It is said that there were high fives and cheers at the Sheriff's Department out on Low Gap at the news.

Now, a few years later, here's Mrs. Pintane and the ghost of Wilhite! 

Will Boonville ever allow the Pintanes to jog in peace?

When the Boonville boys passed her from behind, Mrs. Pintane ran home and called 9-1-1. She said a carload of boys had just tried to run over her on the Boonville Road.

A "bolo," cop code for "be on the lookout,"  was immediately transmitted to inland law enforcement. The bolo said a carload of someones had just tried to run over a cop's wife who, as it happened is a kind of a cop herself as a dispatcher.

There usually isn't much to bolo about in Ukiah on a Tuesday afternoon. It's a work day after all and even on the work day Tuesdays the bolo types usually don't get rolling until after dark.

Bolo notwithstanding, the Boonville boys drove around Ukiah for the next four hours before they stopped in at Carl's Jr. on North State Street for some negative  nourishment.

"We were going to eat, and then right after that we were going to see a movie at the Ukiah Theater," one of the boys recalled. "But when we walked out of Carl's a bunch of cops came running up on us with their guns out. Altogether, I think there were about eight of them. Three of them were scruffy-looking. They had on flannel shirts. I guess they're narcs or something. The rest were in their uniforms. I think two of them were CHP. I didn't know who the others were, They were screaming at us to do fucking this and don't do fucking that and to shut the fuck up even though we were too scared to say anything. 'You're all under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon!' the cops said. I didn't understand what it was all about. I didn't make the connection between the lady jogging and what the cops were doing to us at Carl's Jr."

The four boys were held for "about an hour" while the cops "badmouthed us like you see on television" and searched "us and the car." 

The cops found beer and a small amount of marijuana in the car, and small amounts of marijuana in the pockets of two of the boys.

"They called us stoners," one of the boys said. "We're not stoners." 

Two of the Boonville Four were cited for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and told to go home. One of the Boonville Four was simply told to go home. Boonville being a good twenty miles from Ukiah on foot, the three boys called a friend for a ride back over the hill. 

The kid driving the car was put in handcuffs and driven off to Juvenile Hall where he is said to have passed "the worst night of my life." His car was impounded. He was charged with having attempted to commit vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

"I think the cops over-reacted," one of the boys said. "They blew it up so big that they created it. We didn't swerve at that lady. We were right in the middle of the road. She's just making the swerve part of it up."

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