Julio Barral was confused when he saw a Gwinnett County police officer drive up onto his lawn with blue lights blazing last week. When he saw the officer prying his “no trespassing” signs off trees in his yard, he got angry.
“That’s stealing my property,” the Lawrenceville resident told Channel 2 Action News on Monday. “If that was me, I would have been arrested.”
Barral walked out of his house and asked the officer what he was doing, but the officer did not respond and continued using his baton to pry a sign off a tree. Barral kept asking what was going on, but once the officer got two signs off the trees, he took them to his car and left, Barral told Channel 2.
Barral called 911 and reported the incident. Hours later, a police supervisor came to Barral’s home and returned the signs, saying he would talk to the officer who removed them, Barral said.
The officer was not authorized to remove the signs from the resident’s property, according to Cpl. Michele Pihera, a department spokeswoman. Signs that obstruct a right of way are illegal in Gwinnett County, and the officer may have believed they were doing so, Pihera said.
The officer is being “counseled,” Pihera said. Barral wants more than that, he told Channel 2.
“I want them to replace my signs and come back with an apology,” he said.
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