Gun Pulled on Mom with Children in Summer Camp Car Line

BlogHer Original Post

When my children were younger and needed to be picked up after school or from summer camp, parents got maps with directional arrows and written instructions. The unspoken message was clear: Don't start no mess in car line, won't be no mess in car line. That's not what happened earlier this week in New Orleans, La., at the Treme Community Center. Parents in car line and the children waiting for them witnessed an off-duty New Orleans police officer gone mad.

NOLA officer Ashley Terry has been suspended without pay indefinitely for allegedly drawing her gun on an unarmed mother. The mother, Kiyana Howell, came to pick up her children from a summer program at the community center. Terry was there to pick up her nephew. Kiyana's misfortune -- pulling in front of Terry and blocking the officer's exit.

Terry, according to reports, has only been on the force 15 months. NOPD Chief Warren Riley said in a press conference that Terry has a previous complaint against her, and witnesses of the Treme incident complained that another officer came to the scene after someone reported Terry's rampage but did not investigate. They say he took Terry's word for what transpired and supported her off-duty gun-waving rantings. (That officer, David Ellis, has been suspended as well.)

Any accusations of cops protecting cops must be addressed by NOPD because, well, it's the right thing to do, but also because the department has a history of corruption dating to decades past. The NOPD has been working to overcome that legacy.

News sources said that Terry started honking at Howell to move her car. Howell didn't immediately do so, and so, all hell broke loose.

When the subject of her anger responded, annoyed, the officer then screamed at the woman, "B----, you don't know who you're f---ing with," among other coarse threats, witnesses said. At some point she identified herself as a police officer, and brandished a gun in full view of many witnesses, including children. (Times Picayune story)

WWL and other local TV stations have video of Chief Riley's press conference about this incident.

I've been annoyed in traffic before, grumbled about drivers who seem to exist just to torment me, but I've never been enraged in a children's pick-up car line. I can see how someone who's late for an appointment could become extremely irritated, but not to the point of drawing a weapon. Still, women have been known to go nuts while waiting out traffic sometimes.

Yet, there's no acceptable excuse for what Officer Terry did, possibly a reason such as a mental disorder of some type, but no excuse. When children are present, I think most parents try to be on their best behavior. You'd think a police officer would try for that as well, especially around children, but considering that the Police Chief said Terry had another complaint against her, it may be that Officer Terry needs anger management sessions. Long, long sessions. She has issues that I don't think having a car line map would help.

Endulging herself, abusing her position as a police officer, not to mention abusing any legitimate reason to carry a gun, she terrorized children and families in a community already stressed by the violence of ordinary criminals. New Orleans is not an affluent community where police stop to give tickets for car line violations, but neither is it normally a place where off-duty officers attack moms in car line. Fortunately, counseling services have been offered to the children who witnessed the incident.

Hearing about the Treme Community Center commotion, I tried to imagine how I would have handled the situation if in the mother's position. In an interview, Howell, said she wasn't aware of Officer Terry's presence or that she'd offended anyone. She was focused on picking up her children. When she saw Terry waving the gun, the safety of her children became her first concern. I appreciate Howell's focus on her children, but perhaps a car line map or paying closer attention to other drivers would have helped her avoid an Ashley Terry. We do, after all, live in an age of road rage.

I suspect that unless we have pressing appointments or worries that threaten life as we know it, most parents spend car line time thinking about the children they await, getting them home, feeding them, keeping them safe. We sit and hope all is well with our children and the world. Blogger SouthernBelle, for instance, has prayed for her child before in car line.

The most danger we anticipate in car line is that of small ones darting into the path of distracted moms or dads in big SUVs. We don't think gun.

Nordette Adams is a Contributing Editor for Blogher.com whose personal blog is at this link. This post was adapted for BlogHer from another post at her personal blog.

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