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Investigation into illegal use of ATVs on public streets in Hampton Roads

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Posted at 2:38 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 17:15:36-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Police say illegal ATVs are an issue that puts the public in danger. A recent case out of Norfolk highlights issues with people driving illegal vehicles on roadways.

Ramel London was there at the Norfolk Courthouse as he went in front of a judge Monday morning. He was arrested on April 23, and video obtained by News 3 shows a struggle between 23-year-old London and officers.

They claimed London was illegally riding an ATV-like vehicle and was uncooperative with police when they stopped him. The video shows that a struggle ensued, and London was charged with two counts of assaulting an officer.

Granby St Arrest Video

Monday, the News 3 Investigative team was in court as he told the judge who he hired to represent him in court for the charges. He also corrected his age, which was wrong in court paperwork.

He previously told News 3 that while being stopped, he put the clutch in, and the vehicle jumped. He claimed that’s when police pulled his shirt over his head, pepper-sprayed him, and took him to the ground.

He said they didn’t need to do all that.

Monday, News 3 asked him if he knew he wasn’t supposed to be riding that kind of vehicle on the street, and he said, “Kind of; not really.”

Illegal vehicles on roadways have been a problem in Hampton Roads and in other states.

“Under all circumstances, those vehicles are illegal to drive down the public street, and not only are they dangerous... and the times I’ve seen them traveling in groups and doing wheelies and driving recklessly down the street,” said Richard James, a crime analyst and former Norfolk detective.

News 3 obtained another video that shows a group of riders, one of whom is on an ATV. You can see them not obeying traffic laws and doing wheelies.

We reached out to area police departments.

Hampton Police said they’ve seen illegal use of dirt bikes and ATVs in Hampton for years, but haven’t noticed a recent uptick.

They say these violators are a very small group of people who pose a significant safety risk to themselves and other motorists.

Suffolk Police said the illegal operation of ATVs and other off-road vehicles on the public roadways is one of the many traffic-related challenges throughout the city that the department tackles on a regular basis.

They said in 2021, the department issued 18 summonses to violators. Currently, in 2022, there have been two summonses issued.

They said the operation of these illegally operated off-road vehicles on the public roadways creates an undue risk to the safety of the operator and the motoring public at large. The police department consistently enforces traffic laws across the city, and the illegal operation of these vehicles is no different.

“It’s awfully dangerous,” said James. “Those vehicles are not made for the public street.”

He said those vehicles pose a threat to pedestrians, people on scooters and other drivers.

As for the Granby Street arrest video, it only shows one angle and not what led up to the arrest.

The I-Team has learned there is police-worn body camera video of the incident, but police say it is not being released to the public because it’s part of the investigation.

“It’ll be very interesting to see what the camera shows,” said James.

London is expected back in court in July.

Click here for more News 3 Investigations.