Friday, March 6, 2015

Traffic stop from hell

Gannett's The Town Talk (Alexandria) published a story on a poor woman's ordeal with a speed trap that doubles as a municipality in Louisiana.  Cop admitted to having no probable cause but wound up throwing her in jail for 25 days even though there were no violations.  The newspaper reported:

The case of a woman stopped by a Woodworth police officer has been sent back to a trial court, but only so it can determine how much in court costs the town must pay for what was deemed an unreasonable traffic stop.

The traffic stop evolved into a nightmare as the woman, who had committed no crimes, spent 25 days in jail and quit her job for fear of traveling through the town.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal decision issued Wednesday centers around a Jan. 4, 2009, traffic stop before 6 a.m. on Methodist Parkway — a private road — by Woodworth Officer David R. Godwin. He stopped Patricia Parker, who was driving to work at the Methodist Conference Center in her live-in boyfriend's pickup truck with two co-workers.

Godwin had started following Parker on Coulee Crossing Road, according to video footage captured on his dash-cam recorder, and to later testimony from Woodworth Mayor David Butler.

"Parker was driving within the posted speed limit," reads the opinion. "When Parker approached Methodist Parkway she engaged her right turn signal light. As she turned onto Methodist Parkway, Godwin immediately engaged the lights on his police unit signaling Parker to pull over. Godwin admitted Parker had not committed any traffic violation but testified he stopped her vehicle solely because 'he wanted to see who she was' and 'where she was going.'"

 When the traffic stop concluded, Godwin had issued four citations to Parker and had the pickup truck towed — all actions that the court called into question in its decision issued on Wednesday... Rest of article.
 Read the opinion below. There is MUCH more to this story. The Judge was also the Mayor.  They threw her in jail after she proved the charges were bogus and they agreed to drop them.  It gets worse. Much worse and yes, the cop still has a job as the Mayor apparently encourages this behavior towards out of town drivers in the town of 300. 


Anonymous said...

I hear that they are also huge users of water.

noel said...

she's lucky she didn't get shanked or suicide'd in jail. There are a number of small towns in that part of LA that are the same way.

Anonymous said...

How can that even happen in America? That guy belongs in prison.

Anonymous said...

Abusive and ignorant police officers, like the one cited in this suit, particularly those supported within the executive branch, are part of civil society’s worst scourges.

Fools with guns often get reported on this cite, and they draw outrage for good reason. A fool with a gun and a badge is exponentially worse. Unfortunately, there is a much higher proportion of fools with badges (on the force) than thugs with guns (in society).

Anonymous said...

Outrageous! This is the kind of cr*p that makes people distrust the police in general. I understand that they are under pressure, but see no relevance of that vis-a-vis. Too many cops here are on a power trip. I travel internationally and do not see this kind of police behavior in other Western countries. I'm a white, conservative professional and I don't trust the police myself.

Anonymous said...

This is yet another reason why I distrust cops.

Anonymous said...

Just like Ferguson Mo.

Corrupt as shit.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there is something to the Ferguson thing. Maybe its not black versus white, maybe its regular folks versus corrupt folks that hide behind badges and official titles (officer, senator, supervisor)

Anonymous said...

More of the same. This cop stuff is starting to sound like the norm, as in this goodie from Ocean Springs...

Anonymous said...

Just one of many cities in Louisiana. have spent over $500 on "speeding tickets" in Waterproof, LA. in a matter of several hundred feet the speed drops from 55 to 45 to 35. A cop sits right at the 35 mph sign and dings you. If you pay the fine of $175 immediately to the magistrate/mayor you can go on. if you cannot pay your fine, then you forfeit your DL until it is paid. There is an ATM onsite with a hefty convenience fee.

Anonymous said...

Waterproof has been operating like that for as long as I can remember....I'm 40 and can remember my parents slamming on the brakes in that speed trap when I was a teen while telling me, "never speed right here, it's a trap"!

Anonymous said...


This is nothing like ferguson missouri. If mike brown wouldn't have assaulted the officer and tried to keep his gun, the thug would still be alive.

Like it or not, stereotypes exist for a reason.

Anonymous said...

We've made police enforcers of church laws and waged systematic war on personal liberty.

What did you think would happen?

The only solution is change the criminal code to only criminalize actual crimes.

Anonymous said...

When I referred to Ferguson MO being corrupt as shit this was the type of stuff I was referring to. Not the shooting of anyone. The judges and law enforcement monetarily raping everyone EXCEPT their friends and relatives in one great big legal circle jerk.

"The judge in Ferguson, Missouri, who is accused of fixing traffic tickets for himself and colleagues while inflicting a punishing regime of fines and fees on the city’s residents, also owes more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes.

Ronald J Brockmeyer, whose court allegedly jailed impoverished defendants unable to pay fines of a few hundred dollars, has a string of outstanding debts to the US government dating back to 2007, according to tax filings obtained by the Guardian from authorities in Missouri.

Brockmeyer, 70, was this week singled out by Department of Justice investigators as being a driving force behind Ferguson’s strategy of using its municipal court to aggressively generate revenues. The policy has been blamed for a breakdown in relations between the city’s overwhelmingly white authorities and residents, two-thirds of whom are African American.

Investigators found Brockmeyer had boasted of creating a range of new court fees, “many of which are widely considered abusive and may be unlawful”. A city councilman opposing the judge’s reappointment was warned “switching judges would/could lead to loss of revenue”.

Brockmeyer, who has been Ferguson’s municipal court judge for 12 years, serves simultaneously as a prosecutor in two nearby cities and as a private attorney. Legal experts said his potentially conflicting interests illustrate a serious problem in the region’s judicial system."

Anonymous said...

5:22 must be a cop from Louisiana, Mississippi or Missouri.

Anonymous said...

Ferriday, LA does the same crap.

Anonymous said...

Municipal law enforcement should be abandoned and increase the Sheriff's budget. I had much rather deal with an elected official than someone insulated in the system. Even in Hinds county. wow. I can't believe I said that. City cops are revenue generators.

Anonymous said...

So...if it's LA with white folks, a culture of corruption can develop in a local police force. But, if it's Ferguson and a black teen who stole cigars is involved, you believe without question the shooting was justified EVEN with all the racist emails uncovered and emails about harassing stops of African Americans by the Justice Dept. Blacks in Ferguson had no cause to doubt the policeman's story of assault.

If you're not racists, you're position should be that especially small town law enforcement can be corrupt and so you'll wait to weigh in until the evidence is gathered.

There is insufficient evidence to prosecute the cop in Ferguson, but hardly enough evidence to prove the cop was assaulted first either.

And, that's why more than a few of you come off as racists.

You " sided up" immediately without one bit of knowledge about the Ferguson police dept even knowing as all of you do that small town police forces aren't always " professional".

Anonymous said...

5:32 "We've made police enforcers of church laws and waged systematic war on personal liberty." - what does this mean?

..."...actual crimes" what does this mean?

Does this mean that laws should be reflective of whatever you personally deem unacceptable? What about what I think? What about poor 5:22, 7:22, 7:52, 8:24 and 8:38? Surely they get to have the laws based on their feelings on matters. Not to mention all of the other posters who only want personal liberty and laws that only reflect what they believe is good or bad.

Explain to me how good or bad exists in a vacuum? You must have some basis because your opinion won't cut it any better than mine will...

Anonymous said...

5:22 pm That is exactly the kind of "point" the Nazis made in 1937.

Stereotypes lead to bigotry.

Here's a news flash you judge humans by their behaviors either individually or when a group acts in concert.

If you haven't figured out that all African Americans don't agree on a behavior , how do you explain Condoleezza Rice or Clarence Thomas?

Kingfish said...

9:42: I don't care who you are, if you beat the shit out of a cop's face while he is in his car and can only use one hand to defend himself, not to mention a huge size advantage, it is not going to end well. Period. White Black Purple Brown Green Copper Silver Peach. It doesn't matter.

Now the pattern of traffic stops is a different story. Karl Denninger had a good post about it on the Market Ticker at the time. That corroborated alot of what was stated in the DOJ report. They would supposedly even start muni court a few minutes early so they could catch people as "failure to appear" and issue warrants. Obviously thats wrong thing to do.

Code Section 179 said...

I was stopped in Woodworth about 20 years ago. Speed limit dropped from 45 to 25 in just a few hundred feet and the Chief of Police stopped me for doing 35 in a 25. I had a nice car and he found out from me that I was a CPA over in Mississippi. He said his wife worked for a firm in Alexandria and that during tax season he cooked, did children's homework, etc. while his wife worked tax season hours. He checked insurance, registration, called my tag in, etc. while writing out that #200 ticket. I was allowed to leave without paying or leaving my DL and I promptly mailed a check on return from Houston. Never went through there again.

Anonymous said...

1989. I lived in California at the time. My dad lived in Tallulah. He was hospitalized. My daughter, 1 1/2 years old at the time, flew to Alexandria, rented a car to drive to Tallulah in an ice storm. I am familiar with hwy165 and with Waterproof. But this particular day i drove much slower than any posted speed limit on Hwy 165. Eased through Waterproof. less than a mile later i look in my rear view and cop is coming up behind me with his flashers on. I stopped at a safe place to pull off the paved road. Cop pulled in behind me. I sat in the car, he walked up to my window which i had already rolled down and mentioned that i was speeding through town (7 mph over posted 45 mph) and asked for my drivers license. I knew i was not speeding but didnt want to challenge him. I gave it to him and he made some comment about my California license and asked where i was headed to. For which i told him. He walked back to his car for a min or two, came back to my car and said i was getting a speeding ticket and he was going to have to keep license. I questioned why and he said "procedure'. I told him i didnt understand why, i had never heard of such with just getting a speeding ticket 7 mph over posted limit, that i had to have them. He told me my options are: i get ticket, he keeps license and when i pay ticket i get license back; or i go to police dept now, make arrangements to have $ wired to me and pay ticket that day and retain license; or go to jail until court date. I told him i will follow him to police dept. That buzzard let me do that not even knowing what my intent was. In the station was another cop, me and my daughter and the cop that pulled me over. After a conversation with both officers where i again reiterated that i didn't understand why they had to keep my license just for that speeding ticket, and mentioning to them i was not speeding, no way with road conditions that bad, or stay in jail until ticket paid or court date which meant both me and my daughter would both be staying. I was handed my license back with the ticket, of course, and we were on our way to Tallulah. (Hmmmm wonder if the traffic stop had anything to do with being in a rental car?! And their bonus -out of state license!)

Anonymous said...

A lot of cops have military backgrounds and have had that military insulation from the real world and then they go into municipal law enforcement and have a layer of insulation with that. They don't have to do a lot of common sense thinking. That's why city cops can get away with being dumb as a bag of hammers. I know this from working with those hammers.

Anonymous said...

My wife was driving in Farmerville, LA when she ran head long into a deer. She lost control of the car and it flipped upside down into a ditch along the side of the road. She wasn't hurt so she got out and called the police. They were there within ten minutes. I was trapped on the passenger side with jagged metal and the smell of GAS threw out the car. The police crawled into this upside down, gas soaked vehicle and cut my seatbelt away. He also dragged me out of the wreck. Within 5 minutes of being rescued the car battery sparked and the vehicle erupted into flames. I own my life to this police officer. So, if all police are not perfect they ARE the ones who put themselves between you and danger. Remember 911. Remember the two Hollywood bank robbers who were fully armored shooting up the streets with no intent of giving up. GOD bless our 1st responders.

Anonymous said...

I once got a ticket in Waterproof, pissed me off.

Anonymous said...

KF, What you are missing is how these confrontations seem to be happening over and over again.

Just as with this post, it starts with the police stop. That is where professionalism and good sense has to begin.

Probable cause matters.

In Ferguson, he stops two kids walking down the street ( no evidence he had any description of the cigar store incident)and allows the kid to come up to his car with the window rolled down. After that's over, rather than wait for back up or follow at a distance, he gets out of the car with gun drawn.

So minor assault and cigar theft warrant a death sentence these days? It's not like he didn't get a good look a teen who lives in a small town and couldn't find him for a less risky arrest later!

With the nine year old in the park, we have a car come up close and a two second reaction when stopping at a distance with cover and talking would have been a good first choice.

We see five policeman that can't take down one unarmed homeless guy or control his hands after he's on the ground and tasered. What happened to holding down the arms first?

We have " private security" following a teen and not following police instruction and then after getting off, the shooter shows he's hardly an outstanding citizen by his later behavior.

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect professionalism from those to whom we give deadly authority!

And, I have more than a little problem with the vigilante mentality that seems to be becoming more pervasive.

But, the main point is that in this LA instance, everyone is well aware that corruption can exist in a small town force. No one would automatically accept police versions. JPD is certainly not given " the benefit of the doubt".

And, THAT'S the problem. The focus for too many is not on the excesses and trying to stop them but on trying to spotlight those where some justification can be found.

The focus is on " culture" in the African American community that leads to crime, but not how " culture" in the white community also leads to crime... whether is spoiling or emotional/physical abuse or teaching them to be racists.

Maybe we should clean up our own act and set an example!

Anonymous said...

We can all tell anecdotal stories of heroic actions and disgusting actions on the part of law enforcement.

That is irrelevant.

The point is that no group is perfect and bad apples are found in every barrel.

The bad shouldn't erase the good but it damn well shouldn't be overlooked either!

Anonymous said...


I think you know exactly what was meant when the poster said "actual crimes". It's not a subjective notion to understand what's right and what's wrong. On the other hand, criminalizing behavior that might be a precursor to another crime because someone has done, bought, or utilized this or that, is wrong.

Behavior is not a crime. The individual acts are. We've grown too accustomed to laws to "protect" instead of laws to punish. Any law meant to "protect" is a law meant to limit behavior that might appear or lead to an act of crime.

Even in this day, and on this very forum, people see everyday law-abiding people as criminals for being black, for having a gun, for purchasing sudafed, etc. The legals system has devolved to point that every man is considered liable to commit a crime (people are inherently bad) vs criminals commit crimes and the average person isn't a criminal (people are inherently good).

Anonymous said...

"Blacks in Ferguson had no cause to doubt the policeman's story of assault."

Unless they ignored that pesky gunpowder residue on Michael Brown's hands (see 8:47's bleeding heart screed as an example oh how to ignore physical evidence).

Forest Hill said...

The Town of Woodworth has a website with a contact form. You can voice your opinions there as well.

Anonymous said...

And they wonder why their little towns are DYING. Thanks for the warnings, folks. I will NEVER, EVER drive through those places in Louisiana again. (It was fun, stopping in Transylvania, and buying teeshirts: but never again...)

Decades back, I was returning from a wedding in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and got stopped in a speed trap there. They couldn't change a hundred, and I didn't have enough in small bills. Luckily, somebody recognized my last name, and had a cousin who'd married a cousin, and they took a check. Otherwise, I would have been in jail.

I will NEVER drive through that hellhole again. EVER. Now, I go all the way to Memphis, and take the Interstate.

And for every person who avoids driving through these places, there is surely a local young person, sick of the atmosphere of FEAR that these corrupt lawmen create, who leave as soon as they can.

Do these fools WANT their towns to literally fall down and disappear from the map? Because that's what happens, when you intimidate.

Arcade said...

I have been through Ferriday, LA hundreds of times over the years. It is not regarded as a speed-trap town that I know of. I have rarely ever seen a traffic stop there.

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