Deputy tells woman to get out of car and walk
December 6, 2011
Steve Hamilton, manager of The Market at Park City’s pharmacy, said he was appalled when his longtime tech assistant, Marti Marie Parker, was told by a Summit County Sheriff’s Department deputy to get her things out of her car and walk to work or find a bus stop — in a snowstorm, along a busy highway.
On Sunday morning, Parker called her employer from the side of the road near Bear Hollow on S.R. 224 where she had been pulled over by Summit County Deputy Andy Crnich for driving with expired registration tags. It was the second time she had been stopped for the violation and Crnich was adamant about impounding her car on the spot. Parker called Hamilton to let him know she would be late because they were taking her car and she was going to walk into town.
Hamilton grabbed his car keys, pulled the pharmacy windows shut and dashed out the door to pick her up. When he arrived, Parker, who is five months pregnant, was standing outside holding her belongings and a car seat, he said.
"That shouldn’t happen here. This is a small town," said Hamilton, adding, "We need to take care of each other."
When he arrived on the scene and expressed his concerns to the officer, Hamilton said, "The body language was definitely intimidating. I tried to explain that she was trying to take care of it. She had a plan
"It was heavy handed. Who’s going to leave a 5-foot, 1-inch woman on the side of the road in a snowstorm? He is five times her size, with a badge and a gun, and he didn’t even offer to let her sit in his car."
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Parker admits that she was in the wrong. "I was an idiot. I should have taken care of it. I needed to buy two tires and that took all my money. And then my transmission went out." After she was stopped by a Park City Police office last week, Parker says she made plans to get the car registered on Monday. She explained the situation to the deputy but said his response was, "Yeah, well it looks like the other officer was being nice and I am not going to be that nice. I am going to impound your car."
According to Parker, " He said I had to get out of the car and start walking . That scared me."
After returning to the pharmacy, Hamilton said he intended to file an complaint with the Sheriff’s Department. He called several people including Sheriff Dave Edmunds, who returned his call later with an apology. Although still upset, Hamilton said he no longer plans to file an official complaint but hopes the sheriff will reprimand the deputy.
When contacted on Monday, Edmunds defended the deputy’s actions but also said he wishes it had been handled differently. According to Edmunds, the officer’s actions were lawful and the impound was warranted. "It was five months overdue. According to the state legislature, if it is more than three months overdue we are supposed to impound the car." According to Edmunds, the state is taking a hard line on citizens who evade paying taxes by not renewing their registration.
Edmunds added that he had not had the chance, yet, to review the videotape of the traffic stop but planned to do so on Tuesday. "My main concern is how long the woman was out of the car. I don’t think it was more than 10 minutes."
Edmunds also said, "It could have been done better. I have talked to my command center about it. We should have treated this lady like a lady. We could have offered a ride. We could have been more customer-service oriented. We are committed to doing better."
In the meantime, Parker’s car is now registered. On Monday, with help from her mom, she paid $189 in registration fees, $195 in towing and impound costs and $126 for the emissions test and other fees required by Salt Lake City.