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Parking-Lot Rage: City Cop vs. Parking Attendant

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An allegedly tipsy off-duty police officer, a parking attendant and a dispute over parking validation. These led to a precarious situation in which Richmond Sgt. Anthony Papaleo finds himself.

Wayne Spencer, a 55-year-old downtown parking attendant, accuses Papaleo of assault and using a racial slur against him during an argument at a downtown parking garage. Papaleo counters that Spencer is the one who attacked him. Since the Feb. 19 incident, both men have filed arrest warrants against each other for assault with the Richmond magistrates' office.

According to court documents the dispute began after Papaleo pulled his SUV into the exit lane of a parking garage near the BlackFinn Restaurant & Saloon, in the Riverside on the James office building on the Canal Walk. Papaleo, the police officer, had lost his validation ticket, according to court documents. And that's where Spencer and Papaleo's accounts of the incident diverge.

In a warrant filed Feb. 21, Spencer says Papaleo got angry after being informed that without the ticket he'd have to pony up the full $12 parking fee. According to court documents, Papaleo allegedly began yelling threats and obscenities. Among them, a racial slur: "Nā€”-er, I will shoot you."

Papaleo allegedly exited the vehicle and grabbed the parking attendant by the chest, while a passenger inside the car exited and started flashing a police badge. In his statement to the magistrate, Spencer says that Papaleo smelled of alcohol and that his eyes were "bloodshot."

Papaleo's version of the story plays out somewhat differently. In his statement to the magistrate, filed Feb. 28, he says that Spencer began yelling at the officer's wife after she stepped out of the car to assist another passenger who had become "sick." Because his wife ā€” who had the validation ticket ā€” was helping their ailing friend, Papaleo allegedly told Spencer that he'd pay the full fee.

But according to Papaleo's warrant, the parking attendant refused to accept the cash without the original validation ticket and wouldn't open the gate. "Spencer told me I wasn't going anywhere," Papaleo says in the statement.

It was when Papaleo exited the vehicle to retrieve the ticket from his wife that Spencer began pushing him, Papaleo says. Another security guard showed up, allowing Papaleo, his wife and the sick friend to exit the parking lot, according to the documents.

Both men stand accused of misdemeanor assault and battery. Papaleo has been placed on nonwork status, according to Richmond police, pending an internal investigation. The case is set for an arraignment hearing Thursday.

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