Antique Dealer Runs Over Competitor; Could Face Charges

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A local antique purveyor, who backed his sport utility vehicle over his competitor Feb. 5, could face criminal and civil charges, Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores said.

Nicholas Brotcke, owner of Pioneer Village Trading Post -- the cluster of Old West buildings at the intersection of Rancho Road and Beeline Highway -- struck Breezee's antique shop proprietor Christopher Lander after a verbal scuffle over the merchandise in Lander's parking lot.

The two antique shops are located across the highway from one another. Brotcke became angry as he saw his competitor selling antiques in the parking lot, which is illegal without a permit.

"(Brotcke) came to (Lander's) business location and began taking photographs of the alleged violations," Payson Police Detective Matt Van Camp wrote. In response, Lander came out of his store with a camera and began photographing Brotcke and his vehicle.

Brotcke got into his car and put it in reverse.

To this point, everyone agreed on the observable: Brotcke struck Lander with his silver Honda Passport.

After that, the story forks.

According to the police report, Brotcke said he didn't see Lander; but Lander said the collision was no accident.

"(Lander) got behind the vehicle to take a picture and Mr. Brotcke backed up, striking Mr. Lander," Van Camp noted in his report. "The right rear tire drove over the top of Mr. Lander, knocking him to the ground."

Brotcke told officers he proceeded slowly and then felt a bump.

"I did not see him behind me," Brotcke added.

But witnesses, including Lander's wife and two children disagree: They said Lander was standing, not squatting behind Brotcke's Honda Passport when the accident occurred.

Brotcke told officers he thought Lander had faked his injuries; Payson Police Sgt. Tom Tieman then overheard Brotcke say he snapped pictures of Lander on the ground.

After developing Brotcke's photos, investigators discovered several shots of Lander lying behind the SUV.

A different story

Neither Lander nor Brotcke would comment on the incident, but police reports recorded in the trauma room at Payson Regional Medical Center have Landers telling a different story from Brotcke's version.

Lander told police that Brotcke threatened him before getting in the vehicle by saying, "Move or you'll get hit."

Brotcke reportedly "floored it," colliding with Lander's body and knocking him over.

Evidence photographs show 8-inch acceleration marks underneath Brotcke's right, front tire and fingerprints on the bumper where Lander grabbed to stabilize his body.

Lander's injuries included tire marks across his chest, a burnt left hand from grabbing the bumper and muffler, and an ankle injury reportedly caused by the catching of his foot under the rear axle.

Police Commander Don Engler said Brotcke could face aggravated assault if the county attorney collects enough evidence to bring the case to court. Flores said the charges are still under review.

Still mad

During questioning, Brotcke continued to reproach Lander's zone-violations.

"He started complaining that the owners of Breezee's antique store were stealing his business," officer Billy Hoffman wrote in his report of the incident.

Brotcke filed several complaints with the town about Breezee's selling antiques in the parking lot, but said he had not received any positive response.

To bolster his charges, Brotcke, after being notified of pending action against Lander, drove to Breezee's to photograph the offending baubles.

According to town employee Sheila deSchaaf, on Feb. 13 Lander was issued a notice of zoning code violations.

Lander has 15 days to comply.

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