Carrboro alderman accused of assault

Staff WriterSeptember 7, 2007 

A Carrboro alderman faces assault charges after a high school cross-country meet volunteer accused him of hitting her with his car during a traffic disagreement.

Amanda Joyce Kotecki, 33, of Durham was not injured, but she told police and a magistrate that Alderman Dan Coleman drove his car into her in the parking lot of Hank Anderson Park on N.C. 54 about 5:25 p.m. Wednesday.

Coleman was dropping off his son at baseball practice when the incident occurred.

The magistrate found probable cause to charge Coleman with assault with a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor.

Coleman turned himself in to police Thursday morning and was released on a written promise to appear in court, Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison said. His court date is in October.

In February 2006, Coleman was appointed to replace Mark Chilton, who was elected mayor. He is up for election in November.

Coleman's and Kotecki's versions of what happened differ.

In a written statement, Coleman, 55, said he was dropping off his 6-year-old at a scheduled baseball practice at the park, but traffic through the park had temporarily stopped because of a cross-country meet.

After a few minutes, though, Coleman said, "Even when there were long gaps between runners, traffic was not being allowed to pass."

Coleman said he asked those blocking traffic whether police or the town had given them authority to stop traffic, and they told him no. He told them that others were using the park and to allow vehicles to pass.

Coleman said he told Kotecki he needed to pass, then proceeded when he thought there weren't any runners. "Rather than move out of the way, ... she climbed part way on to the hood of my car," Coleman wrote.

Kotecki denies she got on top of Coleman's car.

The software engineer was volunteering at the high school meet, and said 60 to 80 runners had to pass through the section, which would have taken five to eight minutes. She said about six cars were waiting to cross.

But Kotecki said in her judgment there wasn't enough room to pass before runners would come through.

Coleman drove from several cars back in line and tried to cross, driving up to her hand before stopping. Kotecki backed away and asked him to park and walk the rest of the way, which was less than a half-mile, she said.

He started up again, so close that her hand was on the hood of his car, Kotecki said, then crossed through the meet's path.

"I'm not injured in any way, but did I feel like there was potential that he wasn't going to stop? Yes, I did," Kotecki said.

Staff writer Jessica Rocha can be reached at 932-2008 or jessica.rocha@newsobserver.com.

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