A Los Angeles family is calling for a public apology from the California Highway Patrol after a loved one’s funeral procession was stopped on a California freeway Friday. Family members also want the cop involved to be reprimanded.
KTLA News reports the funeral procession for Sandra Louise Behn-Capel was traveling on Interstate 10 Friday when a CHP officer stopped the lead motorcycle of the motorcade.
Cellphone video of the incident (shown below) captured what happened next as the entire procession — about 100 cars — stopped on the freeway, waiting to proceed to the cemetery.
The woman recording the video can be heard commenting on the traffic stop while a visibly frustrated female family member argues with the Highway Patrol officer.
“These people just lost their mom,” the unidentified woman can be heard saying. “She just lost her daughter. And you are stopping a whole funeral?”
As the arguing in the video subsides and people begin returning to their cars, one man approaches the camera and gives his version of events.
“This a**hole police officer is giving the lead traffic officer a ticket for holding up traffic for a funeral procession,” he says. “I just had to let him know how big of an a**hole he really is. Because he created a bigger problem — got 200 cars lined up on the freeway so he can make a point.”
That man was later identified by KCAL News as Ricky Powers, a nephew of the deceased.
In an interview Powers said he thought the officer used poor judgement.
“I asked him, I said, ‘You really think this is the time and place for that? I mean, we’re grieving right now,’” Powers said, recounting his roadside discussion with the officer.
“It was just unnecessary,” he added. “Someone took their job too serious, on a power trip, needs to be reprimanded, needs to give the family a public apology.”
But CHP officer Chris Baldonado told KCAL the officer had plenty of reason to make the stop.
“It is a sad situation,” he said. “I think [the officer] acted within his powers, and his best discretion.”
Baldonado went on to explain that the officer only stopped the driver of the lead motorcycle of the procession for attempting to halt traffic in the far right lane — something, Baldonado said, the motorcycle driver didn’t have the authority to do. The rest of the procession was free to continue to the cemetery, he said.
But they didn’t. And Behn-Capel’s daughter, Rachel Behn-Humphrey, said some of them never made it.
“We sat on the side of the freeway so long, they had to go on. I saw some of them drive past,” she told KTLA.
Behn-Humphrey is calling for a public apology from the CHP and has retained the services of attorney Edward Ramsey.
Ramsey admits the officer had reason to stop the motorcycle driver but thinks the overall situation was handled poorly.
“It exceeds the bounds of all human decency,” he said. “An officer has the discretion to stop or not stop a funeral procession. If it was me, I would have probably escorted this procession to the burial.”
According to a CHP representative who spoke with KTLA, the motorcycle driver was cited for illegal lighting and had his vehicle impounded because his driver’s license was not current.
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Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube