By Jack Burns
One of the joys of small town living is being able to socialize with one’s neighbors without harassment. But that simple pleasure of life was made much more difficult when an overzealous officer of the law, North Enid Police Officer John Miller, decided to write a motorist a ticket for stopping to say “hey” to a friend.
While there are signs all along the road for no one to park on the side, one lady decided to stop her Jeep, roll her passenger window down, and say “hello” to a good friend, Physical Therapist Gary Duckworth. Duckworth had been mowing the lawn but killed the motor on his push mower to say hey to his friend, Kali Wood.
Little did she know she’d be targeted for a ticket, for parking, not stopping to spread some community cheer. Officer Miller wasted no time, it seems, in writing Wood a ticket for parking on the road.
Duckworth then attempted to rationalize with the officer, who simply wasn’t standing to reason with the health professional.
“The car’s running, and we’re just talking,” Duckworth said and then he approached the officer again attempting to come to an understanding with him. But Miller simply responded, “Man, I’m not here arguing with you.”
It must be noted that the roads, neighborhood roads, have no double yellow lines, and may not even be within the jurisdiction of the police department as state maintained roads. Nevertheless, the officer followed through with presenting Wood her ticket and telling her the fine was $25.
The heavily redacted video (done so by the police department), doesn’t show the entire interaction, nor the discourse exchanged between the two. But, before leaving, however, Duckworth decided to take the opportunity to lecture Miller on what he could have done.
After reminding Miller he’s a taxpayer, knows everyone in the community, and declaring, “I pay your salary”, he asked, “You can’t even answer my question?”
“Your job is to protect and serve,” the physical therapist said. “You could have at least come by and at least told her, ‘you need to move’.There are signs up, really?” Wood asked.
Miller ignored Duckworth, even after he said, “Excuse me!” Again he said, “Excuse me!” and approached Miller on the side of the road.
“Back up, or you’re going to jail!” the jittery officer said, and then he pulled his taser, pointing it at the yardman. “You better holster that!” Duckworth told him. The officer then replied, “I ain’t holstering nothing.”
“If you think you’re justified to pull a taser on me, just because you don’t want to answer my question, that’s a bunch of (inaudible),” the healthcare worker said. Duckworth told the officer he’d be hearing from his lawyer and promised not to let the issue go away quietly.
To many, who saw the video on Facebook, it seemed like a reasonable request. But to Officer Miller, the law was a little more cut and dry. Stop and get a ticket.
That’s precisely what Wood got. She has a court date, and will surely be accompanied by many of her fellow Enid community members who are a little more than outraged by the trigger-happy ticket pusher and his speech with a long-standing member of the community.
For their part, the North Enid Police Department is standing by their officer, even releasing video footage of the incident and saying an independent committee of community members had reviewed the interaction and concluded, “acted within department policy and his training.” However, after receiving so much backlash, the department pulled the video.