Kristy Hernandez was issued four tickets and charged with one felony after she criticized a school police officer for holding up traffic at an elementary school in Hialeah, Florida (video below).
"The students are late, and this police officer, I’m sure he’s not oblivious to everyone beeping and saying something," Hernandez said of the June 2016 incident, which she recorded on her car's dashcam.
Hernandez told WSVN she was stuck for 20 minutes because the officer was ticketing another driver at Ben Sheppard Elementary School, which slowed down other parents.
Hernandez was recorded on her dashcam video telling the officer: "The students are late to school because of you. I’m going to be sending this to your supervisor, by the way, sir."
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Moments later, Officer Ismael Castilla pulled Hernandez over on school property.
Castilla ticketed her because the car she was driving, which belonged to her father, did not clearly show "MyFlorida.com" at the top of the license plate.
"I’ve never been on the wrong side of the law, so it’s scary for me," Hernandez recalled.
Castilla also ticketed Hernandez for not showing him the car's insurance and registration, which she said were in the car. Castilla also ticketed the mom for her dashcam.
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"It’s a small dashcam," Hernandez said. "He said it was obstructing my view."
Hernandez was also charged with a felony by Castilla because she says she pulled up a few feet to give Castilla room to park behind her.
"He said I fled and eluded the police officer," Hernandez stated.
Another school officer walked up to Hernandez, and told her to calm down because she was crying.
"I need a favor from you," the second officer told Hernandez. "I need you to please calm down."
Hernandez told WSVN: "I felt violated. I felt victimized. It’s clear to see that he did it in retaliation."
Howard Finkelstein, a legal expert for WSVN, viewed the video and gave his opinion:
No. This is an abuse of power. Legally, Kristy can say she does not like the way the officer is doing his job, but he cannot retaliate and charge her with a felony.
And by the way, he wrote the felony charge incorrectly, and it’s not valid at all. As for the other four citations, a judge will see what happened here and throw them all out.
"If she believes she is innocent of the citations, she has the right to address her concerns during the judicial process," Miami-Dade Schools Police told the news station.
"What you’re doing is really not protecting and serving," Hernandez countered. "You are just protecting and serving yourself because someone caught you doing something wrong."
Hernandez said the school principal was upset because she told her story to the news station, and she is worried the principal may retaliate against her.
Hernandez's next stop is court for the citations and felony charge.
The website of Hussein & Webber, a criminal defense law firm in Florida, notes that the state law defines "fleeing and eluding" -- Hernandez's felony charge -- as having three primary factors:
The defendant was operating a vehicle upon a street or highway in Florida; A duly authorized law enforcement officer ordered the defendant to stop or remain stopped; and The defendant, knowing that he or she had been directed to stop by the police officer, (a) willfully refused or failed to stop the vehicle in compliance with the order, or (b) having stopped the vehicle, willfully fled in vehicle in an attempt to elude the officer.