Traffic Stop Confusion Leaves Oklahoma 17 Year Old In Tears, Handcuffs

Tuesday, December 23rd 2014, 8:12 pm
By: News On 6

What do you do when you're being pulled over on a dark stretch of Highway?

One girl thought she had the right answer, but ended up in tears and handcuffs.

For years, at the advice of law enforcement, it's been said, if you get stopped by an officer in a dark, abandoned area, you should turn on your inside light, wave and acknowledge the officer and continue very slowly to the nearest well lit area, then, pull over.

One 17 year old got nervous when she saw police lights behind her around 11:00 last Friday night and took that advice, but things did not go as planned.

Mary Bozarth said had it been daylight or a busy area she would've pulled over immediately, but in the dark and in the country, she turned on her dome light, waved, called her mom, and went below the speed limit to the first well lit place, a bank about a mile away.

Once stopped, the deputy told her to get out of her car.

"I get out, I'm crying hysterically. I've never been pulled over and he has his gun drawn and says ‘step over to me,'" said Bozarth.

He handcuffed her, for his safety, until he sorted things out then released her.

Her parents arrived and explained she did exactly as they'd taught her for her own safety.

"He continued to tell me, ‘if she weren't 17,' and, ‘if we wouldn't have been involved, he'd be taking her to jail,' and I was like, ‘what do I tell my child to do because I would tell her to do the same thing and I would do the same thing as a grown woman,'" Bozarth's mother, Katrina Sutterfield said.

Undersheriff Tim Albin said he thought she did the right things, but to also call 911. He said they can confirm whether it's a real officer and, if so, let the officer know your intent.

"The officer is not going to know why you're doing that. He's not going to make the assumption it's a scared girl who's afraid and he's going to approach the vehicle the way we taught him and have them get out and secure them until he figures out what's going on," Albin said.

Now, Bozarth said she's terrified of being pulled over again.

"I don't know who's behind me and I don't care if it's a real cop or not because more cops are getting charged with rape and assault, stuff they've done on duty," she said.

The undersheriff said he understands that fear and wants all women to be safe.

The Tulsa County Sheriff's office takes the situation seriously and said, going forward, in every squad meeting they'll be talking about it, in hopes of preventing a misunderstanding like in the future.