By: Nickie Hayes
Everyone has late nights at work, and by that point during the day, you just want to get home. Imagine driving down a dark road, late at night, and all of the sudden, flashing lights appear in your rear view mirror. You suddenly realize you are getting pulled over, starting to feel alarmed, confused, and nerves creeping up. For Kamryn Sealy, a young black woman, this was her first time experiencing getting pulled over. However, it turned out to be a much worse ordeal than she was expecting.
Q: What was the event that originally occurred and can you give a recap of what happened?
A: I got pulled over, and I’ll admit, I was speeding. I was going down the road, it was probably like midnight, and I was on the way home from work.
I got pulled over, and the police officer came up to my window. He asked whose car it was, for my license and registration, of course, where I am going and where I am coming from, you know, all that stuff. He took all the things to his car, and when he came back, I was crying. The officer said to me it’s too late for that. I was scared, so of course, I was going to cry.
He also said that in any other state, I could arrest you right now. After that, I started sobbing and asked myself, is he really going to arrest me? He continued saying how dangerous it is to speed and that I could hurt someone else or myself, which I understood, but the interaction did not need to be as bad as it was.
He was trying to scare me into not speeding again, which I got, but threatening to arrest me I thought was a little bit too much. He talked to me for a while about how I never need to speed again and gave me a ticket. He told me to get home safe, and I just sobbed for the ride home, basically.
Q: How were you feeling when the police officer actually turned on his lights, and you knew you were getting pulled over?
A: Honestly, at first, because I was driving behind someone, I didn’t know I was getting pulled over. I thought the person in front of me was getting pulled over. So, I didn’t think anything of it.
Q: Were you right behind the person in front of you? Did you think you were going the same speed as the car in front of you?
A: Yeah, I was behind them, and I didn’t really understand why I was the one getting pulled over when we were both moving at the same speed. When I realized that he was pulling me over, I was scared, and at the time, I didn’t realize I was speeding. So, I was also really confused as to why I was getting pulled over. In my head I was saying oh god, what did I do?
When he was talking to me he kept asking what speed I thought I was going. I really did not think I was going that fast.
Q: Did anything happen in the encounter that you weren’t expecting?
A: I mean, I did not expect to get a ticket and I didn’t expect him to threaten I could be arrested for speeding.
Q: What did the ticket end up saying on it?
A: So, I was going 55 in a 45, but the place I got pulled over was after the speed limit changed from 45 to 55, so I probably ended up speeding up a little. The ticket says I was doing 72 in a 55, which I still don’t understand because my car can barely go over 60. It starts shaking when I go over 60, so I was confused and did not even know my car was capable of going 70.
Q: Do you feel the officer wrongly gave you a ticket then?
A: Yes because I was one of two people who the officer could see speeding on that road, and that was the first time I had ever gotten pulled over.
Q: What ended up happening at your hearing?
A: The judge ended up dropping the ticket, and I got a non-moving violation. I went to a class at the local college and I just had to pay a fine for the court. I think I would have gotten a lot of points on my license, so I am thankful for the judge. He said because this was the first ticket I ever had, I am enrolled in school and I still live at home with my parents was the reason he dropped it.
Q: Do you feel the experience would have been different if you weren’t a young black woman?
A: Definitely because I have white friends who have said they have gone over 100 in a 55, and no cop has pulled them over or threatened to arrest them. I feel it would have probably played out differently.
Q: How did your family feel when you told them what happened?
A: Well, when I got home, my mom was asleep, but I was still sobbing, so she woke up. She asked me what’s wrong, and I told her I got pulled over. She laughed at me at first and asked why I was crying so much. I told her what he said to me, and she thought he was wrong for threatening me, acting completely out of line.
When I told my dad, he said he was abusing his power. He was really upset and said he had gone through a similar experience.
Q: I was about to ask, do you know any family or friends that have gone through a similar experience?
A: Yep, I have; actually, my sister and my brother went through something similar to.
Q: At any point during the encounter did you feel like you were in danger?
A: Yeah, I was definitely scared. You know, when cops hold their hand on their hip, when their hand is at their gun, I was thinking about what my dad had told me. He had a talk with me and told me not to make any sudden movements and make sure the officer can see your hands. So, when the officer asked for my license and registration, I made sure to be very careful grabbing them out of the glove compartment. I mean, I was a little scared that he would think I might be reaching for something. He definitely wasn’t very friendly at first to make me less worried, so I did think so at the beginning.
Q: Did the event change your view on police officers?
A: No, it didn’t change my view because I don’t hate police officers. I just think they shouldn’t seem like they have so much power over you. Also, I feel that we need to have a system where there are consequences when they make poor decisions.
Q: Is there anything you can take from this experience, good, bad or inbetween?
A: Actually, not really. Of course, I’ll watch my speed, but I still feel to this day he was wrong in saying what he did to me.