Utah Park Ranger Pulls Woman Over for Driving Slow, Arrests Her for Trying to Film the Stop


Utah Park Ranger Steven Powers marked the 4th of July by pulling a woman over for driving too slowly, then yanking her out of her car and slapping on cuffs when the woman insisted on filming the stop with her phone. Unfortunately for Powers, that woman happened to be Celia Sullivan, "a longtime Photography is Not a Crime reader," according to the site's proprietor, Carlos Miller. Sullivan is also 50 years old, a mother of two, and about as non-threatening a person as any cop could hope to interact with while miles away from backup. While Powers apparently thought Sullivan was driving under the influence, she was actually driving so slowly because she had lost her camera tripod on the side of the road. 

Courtesy of Miller, here's the gist of the incident as Sullivan described it on her Facebook page: 

I told PRSP (Park Ranger Steven Powers) that I was going to record him and said just a minute, let me grab my phone. PRSP decided that he didn't have to be patient with me (like a good cop would), which is when he opened the door to my vehicle without my permission. I remember telling him just a second, I'm grabbing the documents and I grabbed my wallet too. I WAS NOT SCARED AT ALL. I was irritated but had no problem getting out of the vehicle but I was going to protect myself just in case. I had nothing to fear if he was good cop, and the video WOULD protect me if he was a bad cop.

And I remember telling him the video was for MY PROTECTION. I didn't know what kind of person PRSP was, and he had a taser AND a gun.

I was all alone. Don't forget that.

PRSP didn't like the fact I was getting ready to record things because he grabbed my left wrist in an attempt to get me to drop the phone. I then said I can get out the car by myself, and turned and placed my feet on the ground and stood. This is where I complied with BOTH of his direct orders: I was out of the car, and I had my papers with me.

But he didn't give me a chance to do anything else since he still had a hold of my wrist. With one motion, he twisted my left arm around to my back, and then at the same time saying you are under arrest for disobeying a direct order. I sank to my knees, dropped my papers phone and wallet and said over and over again you've got to be kidding, you've got to be kidding, are you kidding me.

Miller says that Sullivan was charged with "disobeying a lawful order" and "resisting arrest," and was kept in handcuffs for 90 minutes before being released. To paraphrase Radley Balko, (not) another isolated incident.   

And from Reason.tv, "The Government's War on Cameras."