DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Police arrested a DeKalb man and put him in jail for plugging his electric car into an outlet at a Chamblee Middle School.
Kaveh Kamooneh says he usually charges his electric Nissan LEAF at home. But a few weeks ago he plugged his car into an outlet outside the school while his son watched a tennis match.
Kamooneh said he'd been parked and plugged at Chamblee Middle School only about 30 minutes when he spotted a Chamblee officer. Kamooneh says the officer said he was going to arrest him for stealing electricity, but then said he was free to go.
Kamooneh says about 10 days later a DeKalb County sheriff's deputy arrested him for misdemeanor theft by taking.
Kamooneh says he quickly paid the $1,500 bail but he wasn't released for another 15 hours.
No one from the Chamblee police would talk to Channel 2's Diana Davis on camera. She finally reached the chief by phone.
He claims Kamooneh was difficult and uncooperative with the officer and that the school had asked Kamooneh to leave the property. Kamooneh says that never happened.
Davis asked the chief why Kahmooneh was charged with theft by taking - and not trespassing - if Kahmooneh's presence on school property was the problem.
"Maybe the charge should have been different," said Chamblee Police Chief Marc Johnson.
Kamooneh claims he was not difficult and says plugging in around town for a quick charge has never been a problem before.
"I remember in particular at a doctor's office (I asked) the security guard and he found it strange I was even asking. I plugged in and that was that."
About 3,000 Georgians now drive electric cars, according to Davis' research. She found hundreds of public plug-ins across metro Atlanta.
Chris Campbell of the Electric Vehicle Club said as far as he knows, Kamooneh's experience with police is unprecedented.
"It's stunning that somebody would get arrested for five cents of eletricity," Campbell said.
Kamooneh says he'll face a judge about this case in February.