A young mother in Salem, Oregon says police left her to walk home alone in the rain at night after they arrested her fiance for drunk driving and impounded their car.
Jessica Ojeda, 23, and William Helle were reportedly driving home from a bar at 1:30 a.m. on February 16 when cops pulled them over a few miles away from their home for speeding with broken tail lights, reports the Statesman Journal. The cop says the driver did not immediately pull over and he had to call for backup. When they were able to approach the driver, police say they smelled an “overwhelming odor of an alcoholic beverage mixed with the smell of burnt marijuana” and discovered the man’s driver’s license had been suspended. For these reasons, cops say they had the right to impound the vehicle.
Ojeda says her cell phone was dead and that she did not have money to pay for a taxi home. She says she asked police to arrest her too because she didn’t have any place to go.
“I said, ‘I don’t have any way to get home, can you book me?’” Ojeda said. “I let him know that as calmly as possible. The Salem police officer looked at him and asked him, ‘Is there a way we can work around this? And [Deputy Watkin] immediately told him, ‘We’re not taking her home. It’s not our obligation. It’s not our job.’”
But police say Ojeda, who showed them a current medical marijuana card and told them she had smoked pot earlier that day, was “irritated” and “argumentative.” They claim she demanded to be arrested after she learned they wouldn’t allow her to drive the vehicle home because she was under the influence of marijuana.
“Despite Ms. Ojeda cursing at Deputy Watkin and demanding he take her to jail, Deputy Watkin attempted to make arrangements for a cab to come and pick Ms. Ojeda up from the traffic stop,” Sgt. Chris Baldridge said.
Ojeda says this is not true and that police forced her to walk in the rain in 40-degree temperatures to a hotel where she called a friend to pick her up.
Police are not obligated to provide transportation for people in these situations, and some agencies discourage officers from doing so – for their own protection.
“If no safe location nearby is available for the passenger to walk to, we may offer a ride to a nearby location or help get a ride arranged,” Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings said. “If a location is nearby and the passenger can walk there safely, that may be an option to consider. There is no directive to do that in every case but we will try if able.”
Source: Statesman Journal