An Indiana police department defended the actions of officers who handcuffed a pregnant woman after receiving an anonymous tip.
The incident occurred on the evening of Monday, July 27, in the parking lot of a G.D. Ritzy’s location in Evansville, reported Courier & Press. La’Tasha Tyler was sitting in her car eating ice cream because indoor dining was closed. The Evansville Police Department was called to the scene after an anonymous caller told the dispatcher a woman pointed a gun at another woman. EPD released 911 audio and body camera footage of the officers’ interaction with Tyler on Tuesday.
When the police arrived, Tyler was the only woman there. She was ordered out of her car and made to walk backward toward several Evansville Police officers. The cops had their handguns pointed toward Tyler as she approached them slowly. When Tyler appeared in front of the officer wearing the body camera, she was made to kneel and he cuffed her.
“I’m seven months pregnant!” Tyler told him. “What am I doing wrong?”
The officers asked Tyler if she was involved in any altercations and she denied anything happened. The officer wearing the camera explained why she was forced out of her vehicle.
“Here’s the reason you got taken out of the car like you did,” the officer said. “We just got called and your car and license plate was given as the description of people that just pulled a gun on somebody at Ritzy’s.”
“I don’t have a gun, you can check my car,” Tyler responded. As the officer walked over to Tyler’s car, he told a colleague he doubted the caller’s story.
“I think this is going to be complete bulls–t,” he said. Another officer suggested someone might be “pissed off” at Tyler. As the two officers searched her car, the cam officer agreed with his coworker’s initial statement.
“I’m gonna say that you’re probably right,” he said. “I’m [going to say] someone is pissed off at this little girl.” Tyler was uncuffed shortly after the search concluded and the officers told her they believed her story.
“That’s the reason these came off as quick as they went on, and I’m about to send you on your way because I believe you,” one officer told her.
“We know it’s embarrassing to you, and we’re sorry,” said another cop. “I want you to understand that. I truly do … but we’ve got to approach our job as we do.”
During the 911 call, the unidentified caller told the dispatcher two Black women were fighting with each other and one pulled a gun on the other. A detective later determined the caller had a history of mental illness.
Tyler complained about the stop in a Facebook post, according to a screenshot posted by the EPD Facebook page. She accused the cops of endangering her and her unborn child’s lives.
“Apparently this lady called and told them I had a gun and was shooting at her so they treated me like dirt and made me get on my knees in a puddle to handcuff me for NO REASON!” she wrote. “Every time I tried to talk, they acted like they were going to shoot me!”
Evansville Police spokesman Sgt. Nick Winsett denied Tyler’s assessment and labeled the officers’ actions as “textbook” police work.
“Any time it’s high risk, we don’t have certain traffic stops for different races, it’s all high risk or it’s not. In this case, it was considered a high-risk traffic stop,” he told Courier & Press.
David Mour, Tyler’s lawyer, believes the situation would have went differently with a white woman.
“I get the police have to be safe, etc., but I submit to you that if this were a Caucasian lady that was seven months pregnant, I doubt this would have been handled in the same manner,” Mour told WEHT. Mour told the station he wanted to examine police documents and policy before he considers a lawsuit.