Police Detain Whitehouse Woman - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Police Detain Whitehouse Woman

A Whitehouse woman claims she was unfairly detained for failing to stop for a police officer. She says the cop was acting suspicious and she felt threatened, but police officials say she handled it the wrong way.

Melissa Bonnette says she was on her usual morning walk around 9:45 a.m. Friday when a man in uniform on a motorcycle pulled up next to her, asking if she lived in the area and if he could speak to her.

"I thought that maybe he was flirting," she said. "I just thought it was odd, I thought it was odd. I wasn't really sure but I felt uncomfortable because there wasn't anyone around."

She says she was worried he might not even a real cop, so she refused to stop and began jogging away from him.

"He just crept along beside me on his motorcycle and he started saying, 'Hey ma'am! I want to talk to you. Hey stop, ma'am! I want to talk to you.' Then my anxiety rose even higher," she said. 

"The motorcycle has a patch on both sides of the gas tank. It's black and white and says 'Whitehouse Police,' and has red and blue lights on it," Whitehouse Police Chief Craig Shelton said. "So you have to take it for what it is. Do you think he's a Whitehouse police officer? Why would you think he's someone impersonating a police officer?"

That's when Bonnette says he got off his bike, chased her down, tackled her and threw her in handcuffs.

"I just was crying and I was saying 'Please sir, please sir. Why are you doing this?' It was like I was in a nightmare. I hadn't done anything wrong," she said. 

"Normally if a police officer pulls up, in my opinion, it's awful odd for somebody just to take off and not want to speak to the police officer," Shelton said. "And he had a lawful reason to be there and to stop her."

That reason, Shelton says, is that Bonnette was walking on the wrong side of the road.

"By law, you have to be to the far left facing oncoming traffic," he said. 

So why was Bonnette handcuffed and put under arrest? Shelton says she was evading police.

"He told her I believe twice to quit resisting and she wouldn't -- she continued to resist," he said. "So, he put her on the ground."

But Bonnette argues she was unfairly treated like a criminal, and wants the officer in question --Shawn Johnson -- to be fired.

"I really don't want to live in a town where something like this could happen to a law-abiding citizen," she said. "I'm not going to be able to walk anymore, and that's sad because I enjoy walking every day. But I'm terrified. It was just so traumatic."

Shelton says by law you're not required to stop and talk to an officer if there's not a lawful reason for them to be stopping you. But in this case, he says the fact that Bonnette was walking on the wrong side of the road was reason enough for Johnson to stop her. 

Bonnette hasn't been charged with anything, but the entire incident was caught on dashcam video and Shelton says it will be investigated further. He also says Johnson acted appropriately and won't be reprimanded. 

 

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