Calling all cars

Excited cops bust a stuffed Santa for ogling a mannequin

Police spokesman Chris Gilliam explains that three squads responded to the call because they believed there was a real live naked person on the loose, and they wanted to take extra precautions for the person's safety.

"The officers are driving to that location thinking we do have an actual individual, so we want a supervisor on the sight as well," Gilliam says.

A copy of the police "call sheet" shows that the dispatcher did indeed ask officers to respond to a call about a naked woman, but it is not clear why the dispatcher did so: A copy of the incident report clearly shows that the caller was complaining about "an obscene display," not a naked woman.

"The display was a female mannequin, naked from the waist down. There was another mannequin dressed as Santa Claus, bending over with his face in the female mannequin's crotch, simulating a sex act," the report states. "This was on the sidewalk in open view of any children going past."

Gilliam says he can't comment on the allegations that the officers called Bahr names because he wasn't there, but the report indicates that there was at least some tension inside the store.

An officer "pointed out to [Bahr] that what he might consider 'cute' or 'art' might be considered obscene by a passing parent with children," stated the report, which described Bahr as "defensive" and "not cooperative." The report also shows that the incident wasn't "cleared" until 3:26 p.m.--nearly two hours after the police initially arrived.

Dallas police officer Robert Holt, who is listed on the report as the reporting officer, did not return a call from the Dallas Observer.

A week after the incident, Bahr and Michelini were wondering if, perhaps, the prospect of apprehending a naked woman caused the officers to come to the scene with so much excitement. They also wonder what the police's priorities are. After all, there are real crime problems in the neighborhood, and local store owners say the police have been noticeably absent.

A case in point: the old Stop 'N Go at 1406 Greenville Avenue was broken into three days after the mannequin incident. In that case, a man smashed the store's door at 3 a.m. on December 30 and stole two 12-packs of Miller Lite beer. A squad was dispatched to the scene at 4:12 a.m, but the officer did not arrive at the store until 5:15 a.m.--more than an hour later.

What's more, when the officer got there, he observed a man wandering about the lot, but did not stop and question him. After 45 minutes, a store employee arrived and played the store's security video tape for the officer. The tape showed Melvin Roy Hunter--the same man who had been wandering about the lot 45 minutes earlier--smashing the store door and stealing the beer, according to a copy of the police report.

Hunter, who had apparently consumed the stolen beer and was very drunk, had since wandered away from the scene. Unfortunately for him, he stumbled back to the store just as the officer was leaving. Hunter, 44, was arrested and charged with public intoxication and burglary.

While it only took police 11 minutes to respond to the call about the mannequins, an employee of the Antique Warehouse says she waited a half hour for police to arrive on December 21. That evening, she and her fiance were jumped in the store's parking lot, which is located across the street from the Antique Bahr. The woman says her fiance lay bleeding until a pedestrian finally flagged down a passing police officer, who then called an ambulance.

"This area, they're not controlling the crime," says the woman, who asked not to be identified for fear that the muggers--or the police--might return to harass her. On this Friday morning, the woman is busy packing the store's merchandise: she and her fiance are relocating the store to a safer neighborhood later this month.

The woman says the police presence on Greenville Avenue has declined ever since patrol officer Daniel Gomez was fired in October. Gomez, whom several area store owners praised for his dedication to the neighborhood, was fired in part for violating the department's off-duty regulations and submitting false documents.

"We would never think of having a gun, but we almost feel like we need one down here," says Bahr, who still has Gomez's police business card tacked to his wall.

Since he and Michelini moved out of the old Whiskey Bar and into their current location a year ago, Bahr says he closes up shop by sundown. He is also increasingly afraid to cross the street because of the traffic.

"I can't even get the cops to set up a radar to slow people down, and I've worked on that for two years," Bahr says, pointing his finger to punctuate each word. "I've talked myself blue in the face."

In the past year, Bahr says three pedestrians have been run over on his corner, and still the city ignores his requests that they put in a stop light.

All of which only compounds the confusion police created two days after Christmas, when Bahr and Michelini's mannequin became the target of a police action.

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