SAN ANTONIO — A woman pulled over for allegedly driving over the fog line is raising questions about the traffic stop. She says the officer asked her to sit in his patrol unit. She says he asked her if she was carrying illegal drugs and if his K9 could search her car.
The Latina woman in her 30’s recalled her experience with a Seguin police officer who pulled her over on the 6500 block of I-10 West late Thursday afternoon.
“I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. It was just unbelievable,” the woman said. “I did have my phone on me but I was just so terrified and trying to think of the right thing to say just to survive.”
The woman says she pulled over on the side of I-10 West and the officer told her she was driving on the fog line, which is the line to your right that marks the edge of the legally driveable part of the road. She says he identified himself as a narcotics officer and told her he had a K9 in his patrol vehicle. He asked her for proof of insurance and to step out of the car. She says she followed his directions.
“I didn’t want to upset him or make him angry. Then, when he asked me to go into his car, same thing. I just didn’t want to make him angry,” she said.
She was asked to sit in the front passenger seat of his patrol unit but because she says she felt uncomfortable, she left her door open. As the officer looked up her information, she says he began questioning her.
“Why do I look so nervous? And am I cold? He asked me that a few times. Do you have heroin? Do you have cocaine? Do you have meth? It went from, I pulled you over because you crossed the fog line, to now I’m going to search your car,” she said. “It was just unbelievable. I’m a single woman, by myself with a cop who has a gun with a K9 unit. It was terrifying.”
The woman says the officer did not search her car and ended up letting her go with a warning. KENS 5 spoke with Seguin police chief Terry Nichols about the traffic stop and the officer’s actions. He said for this particular officer, he was following standard procedures. He said I-10 is a busy stretch of highway that is used for human smuggling and to move narcotics.
“This officer has unique responsibilities. He is a criminal interdiction officer. So part of his job is to look for human trafficking, to look for illegal narcotics trafficking and when he stops, he treats everyone the same. Everyone is asked to sit in the front seat of his patrol car,” said Nichols. “He’s also determining baseline behavior, if they are a human smuggler or trafficking people.”
The chief said another reason why the officer asked the woman to sit in his patrol unit was for safety reasons. If another car happened to hit their vehicles, Nichols said they would be safer inside the officer unit with air bags. The police chief says if drivers feel unsafe, they should turn on their hazard lights and drive to a well lit area with more people. He encouraged drivers to use their cellphones to record a traffic stop and said anyone can contact him personally about an interaction with one of his officers.
KENS 5 reached out to Alamo Area Council of Governments to get clarification on what officers are allowed to do during traffic stops. AACOG’s law enforcement academy offers training to licensed officers. A spokesperson said it is up to each law enforcement agency to determine its standard operating procedures. The woman who was pulled over said Seguin police needs to change their protocol.
“That shouldn’t be happening to people. Why are you doing this? And it’s an inefficient way to find the bad guy. How many are you pulling over? How many people have anything in their car?” she asked. “I’m not smuggler, I’m just a girl who was going to go visit her parents.”
The woman added that her experience with Seguin police has now changed her view of officers.
“When I see a cop now, my viewpoint is going to be tainted because of this particular situation and that’s extremely unfortunate. If he’s doing this to every single person that he pulls over, he is actively changing the public perception of police officers from good guy to bad guy,” she said.