BY TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA
Detroit Free Press
WOODHAVEN, Mich. -- A 9-year-old girl sitting on a booster seat behind the wheel of a large van with her apparently intoxicated father in the passenger seat didn't understand why the police were pulling her over in the early hours of Oct. 8.
After all, she had been driving well as the van left a gas station. She even used her turn signal. Twice.
"She was doing fine," Brownstown Township Police Detective Lt. Robert Grant said. "And, in fact, as heinous as this is, the little girl looks at the police officer and says, 'What did you stop me for? I was driving good.' Incredible. Obviously, the officer told her she was too young to drive."
Police learned about the 9-year-old from a caller who watched the girl get behind the wheel and her father get in the passenger seat.
"She's like 7 years old, driving," the caller told the 911 dispatcher. "She's got her turn signal on and she's turning right on Beech Daly."
The girl's father, Shawn Weimer, 39, of Brownstown Township now faces charges of felony child abuse and being a habitual offender. A preliminary examination is scheduled Tuesday in 33rd District Court .
The Free Press could not reach Weimer or his attorney Monday.
On store surveillance video, Weimer brags to a clerk at Citgo about his daughter.
"I got a designated driver," he said. "Nine years old. Nine. Dad, drinking. Listen, we're leaving, and she's driving."
At one point, the girl said, "And I parked," as Weimer told the clerk the girl drove all the way to the store.
The 62-year-old 911 caller, who asked that his name not be used because he fears repercussions, said he noticed Weimer talking loudly to the clerk at the gas station, calling his daughter his "little angel."
The man said he and the clerk remarked that the man seemed drunk.
"I said, 'That's nice -- he's got his little angel and he's going to drive drunk.' And (the clerk) said, 'No, he's not driving -- she's driving.' "
The New Boston man followed the van and called 911.
"She's driving pretty good, I'm telling ya -- I can't believe it," the man told the dispatcher.
Officers caught up with the girl and pulled the van over the pair , Grant said Monday.
Weimer told officers he was teaching his daughter to drive, Grant said.
"He was argumentative with us, that it was his right to teach his daughter how to drive," Grant said.
The girl told officers her father had been drinking whiskey all night, took her out to drive, and then decided to stop at the station, Grant said.
At the police station, Weimer refused to take a breath test, Grant said.
He was charged with second-degree child abuse, a four-year felony, and fourth-degree child abuse, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. He also was charged with being a habitual offender and could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The habitual offender charge stems from Weimer's convictions on four felonies: receiving and concealing stolen property, unarmed robbery, felon in possession of a firearm and felony firearm, Grant said.
Wayne County Child Protective Services also is investigating the case, Grant said.
Detroit Free Press