PETOSKEY (WWJ/AP) – A Michigan man whose efforts to keep an eye on his community while wearing a Batman outfit landed him in court has pleaded not guilty.
Mark Wayne Williams, 33, entered the plea Thursday in District Court in Petoskey. Williams was charged with resisting and obstructing police in an investigation, a two-year felony. Since he is a habitual offender, however, he could serve up to 15 years in prison. He’s due back in court Nov. 21.
State troopers arrested Williams on Sept. 29 because they said he refused to leave them alone while they searched for a driver who fled the scene of an accident. Officers said a canine unit was trying to track the suspect and the costumed Williams “kept screwing up the scent.”
Williams has said he had good intentions with his crime-fighting work.
“I don’t want to be a police officer. I think what police officers do is great, but it’s up to each person to take a stand and do something to make things better,” Williams told the Petoskey News-Review. “A lot of times, what I’ve seen from situations I’ve been in, people see something going on and think the police will handle it, but if nobody calls the police or takes a stand, it’s not going to help.
“Dressing up in my costume, as Batman, is my way of saying that it’s not up to the government to save us.”
Williams said he dresses up as Batman and tries to go out every Friday and Saturday, and sometimes on Thursdays, with a partner who dresses up as Batgirl. They patrol from about 10 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., both on foot and in a vehicle.
It’s not Williams’ first brush with the law as the caped crusader.
In May 2011, police arrested Williams after finding him dressed as Batman on the roof of a local business. Officers say Williams was carrying a baton-type striking weapon, a can of chemical irritant spray and a pair of sand-filled gloves. Although he said he never intended to harm anyone, in September 2011 Williams pleaded guilty to one count of attempted resisting and obstructing a police officer.
In the 2011 incident, Williams was sentenced to six months probation during which he was prohibited from wearing any costumes. At the time, Williams said he was inspired by others who dress as super heroes to prevent crime and reach out to the homeless.
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