Earlier this month, a neighbor reported a mother in Texas, Tammy Cooper, for abandoning her children. The mom’s crime was to allow her children to play outside. The children were riding their scooters around in a cul-de-sac. She said she was watching them from her front yard.
A police officer arrived and, according to Mrs. Cooper, when she asked why he was here, he said, ‘Ma’am, we’re here for you.’ I said, ‘Oh really? Why?’ He proceeded to tell me he had received a call from one of my neighbours that my kids were riding their scooters unsupervised,” Cooper told KRPC.
He questioned her children, ages 6 and 9.
“My daughter had him [the police officer] around the leg saying, “Please, please don’t take my mom to jail. Please, she didn’t do anything wrong’.”
The officer then questioned the neighbor who reported the incident, Ms. Fuller, said for the first time that she hit one of the children with her car.
After another brief discussion and a call to the DA, the police officer arrested the mom on felony charges of child endangerment and child abandonment.
She spent the night in jail. Her husband is away on military duty.
“Never at any point were any of Cooper’s children hit by a car as they played in the street. Moreover, Cooper was observing her children the entire time they were outside on the date of her arrest and thus could not plausibly have abandoned them.”
“Despite the fact that Fuller alleged she had hit one of the children with her vehicle, no medical response was called for or needed as it was obvious that neither child had been hit by a car or was hurt in any way.”
“Interestingly, Fuller was never confronted about her lie regarding striking the child with the car. Instead, Cooper, the victim of an angry neighbor, was arrested and charged with a crime in a public and embarrassing manner.”
In a statement, the police department said it was “confident of the known actions of the officers on the scene that evening.” The neighbor had no comment.
Courthouse news also reported:
Cooper says her children witnessed her arrest and pleaded with the officer not to take her to jail, an experience made worse by the fact that their father was away in Austin on military duty.
Cooper agreed to cooperate with Unknown Officer and asked Unknown Officer if he could cuff her hands in the front, as she has a history of neck, back, and shoulder problems and her arms cannot be place behind her back without extreme pain,” Cooper says in the complaint. “Unknown Officer ignored her request, and handcuffed her hands incredibly tightly behind her back, so tight in fact that the handcuffs cut into the skin on her wrists.”
Cooper says the arrest re-aggravated her health problems, and she might need back surgery.
Cooper spent 18 hours in custody. Cooper spent over $7,000 in court and legal fees before the unsubstantiated felony charges against her were dismissed,” the complaint states. “The incident also led to an investigation by Child Protective Services, requiring Cooper to take her children to the CPS office in Houston.
Her children were separated from her and interrogated by child abuse investigators. CPS found no cause for concern regarding the well being of Cooper’s children and dropped the investigation.
Mrs. Cooper is now suing the La Porte Police Department, the neighbor, Shelley Fuller, and the arresting officer in Federal Court for false arrest and defamation of character.
In her complaint, Cooper says she lives on a “quiet, suburban cul de sac” and frequently allows her children to ride their scooters in the street. While they’re playing she either sits outside and watches or she watches through the large windows on the front of her house.
Read the story at the Houston News