"I shouldn't have parked there, sir."
That's what Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan told retired Norwalk Municipal Court Judge John Ridge during Monday's brief hearing.
Duncan entered a “no contest” plea to parking in a handicap space and Ridge found him guilty of the misdemeanor charge.
A “no contest” plea means the defendant denies guilt, but admits to the facts on which the charge is based. The plea cannot be used as an admission of guilt in subsequent civil lawsuits.
Duncan has 60 days from Monday to pay a $250 fine and court costs.
Immediately after Monday's hearing, the mayor went to the clerk's office. After a few minutes, he exited and told the Reflector he had to retrieve his proof of insurance. Clerks closed the doors less than 10 minutes later -- at the close of the business day, but allowed Duncan inside; the mayor had the requested document in his hand.
One of the clerks was asked if Duncan had paid his fine shortly after the hearing.
"Not today," she said.
The Reflector asked Duncan what he wanted to tell the Norwalk community.
"Sorry. I shouldn't have parked there," he said.
The mayor then was asked what, if any, lessons did he learn.
"I won't talk about those here," said Duncan, who originally declined to comment when the Reflector broke the story May 6.
The handicap parking violation happened about 9:45 p.m. April 29.
As Norwalk Police Capt. Eric Hipp arrived for his shift, he said he noticed a red 2003 Ford Explorer parked in the "easternmost handicap space in front of the police station." Hipp also noted the truck didn't display a handicap placard or license plates and the space "was clearly marked with a pavement marking and a sign."
After Duncan, 50, of 19 S. Garden St., entered the vehicle and started it, Hipp knocked on the driver's window and asked the mayor for his license and proof of insurance. The officer then notified Duncan, who didn't have his proof of financial responsibility with him, of the parking violation.
"Mr. Duncan acknowledged the violation and indicated the reason he parked there was because of the storm and heavy rain we were experiencing when he arrived. I advised him I was aware he had been warned about one month ago about parking in the handicap space. He said he has not done so since that time and only did it tonight due to the storm," Hipp wrote in his report.