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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of September 11 - 17, 2002


Hailey man faces charges in road-rage cases

Express Staff Writer

A Hailey man described by the Blaine County prosecutor as a "poster boy for road rage" was released from jail last week on a $1,600 bond after being accused of slugging a 16-year-old girl whose driving style offended him.

Patrick Shane McCusker, 39, was arrested Sept. 3 on misdemeanor charges of battery, assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting and obstructing a police officer.

McCusker also faces a misdemeanor battery charge filed in July for another road-rage incident during which he allegedly stopped his blue Dodge pickup on Main Street in Hailey, walked up to the offending vehicle and slammed the door on the driverís leg. In January 2000, McCusker pleaded guilty to a charge of disturbing the peace for threatening a teen-age driver in the parking lot of Kingís in Hailey. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss a related battery charge for allegedly choking the driver by wrapping his shoulder harness around his neck.

Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas said a battery charge stemming from a fourth incident was dropped when the victim declined to testify out of fear of retribution.

The recent charges stem from an altercation that occurred on Tuesday of last week after McCusker and the victim exchanged profanities about her driving while the victim was on her way to pick up a friend for school about 8:30 a.m. She told police that she and her friend then encountered McCusker driving at them in their lane on Elm Street, forcing them to stop.

McCusker allegedly walked up to the girlsí car and punched the victim in the face. A Hailey police officer reported that her face was red and swollen when she was interviewed shortly after.

Hailey officers arrested McCusker at his wood-working business at 10:53 a.m. When they began to search him before placing him in a patrol car, he allegedly tried to push and head butt Chief Brian McNary. When McNary pushed him into the car, he allegedly kicked the police chief four times in the neck, chest and leg.

"McCusker was yelling and screaming profanities during our conversation and during the transport," Officer Scott Whitehead stated in his report.

Whitehead reported that McCusker banged his head against the carís window 15 to 20 times, spat on the window and Plexiglas divider and threatened to kill him and hurt the victim the next time he sees her.

McCusker was released from Blaine County Jail on Wednesday after posting the $1,600 minimum bond required by state law. However, a hearing was held in magistrate court later that day on a motion by the prosecutor to re-arrest him and raise his bail to $200,000.

Magistrate Judge Robert Elgee denied the prosecutorís motion to raise bail after McCuskerís attorney said his client had obtained counseling for his anger problem. Elgee set bond conditions that require McCusker to avoid contact with the victim and refrain from violating any laws.

In an interview, Thomas said he had wanted to keep McCusker in jail until he is tried on the pending charges.

"I think there were serious enough threats that it caused us concern," he said. "I think heís likely to commit other offenses."

Thomas said road-rage incidents have become more prevalent as traffic has become more congested.

"Itís something we need to take seriously," he said. "Iím afraid that violence is going to escalate to the point that someone is going to be seriously injured or killed."



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