WILLIAMS, ARIZ. (12 News NBC) – What was supposed to be a relaxing trip to the Grand Canyon for a father and daughter turned into a traumatizing situation when a Department of Public Safety trooper held them at gunpoint.
According to DPS, the front license of the rental car had been reported stolen and the rental car company, Fox Rent A Car, neglected to change the back license plate, which was still registered as stolen. The company disputes this claim.
“I was just terrified that this is not a real police officer — something crazy is going on,” Ken Walton, who was driving, told 12 News. “I had no idea because we didn’t do anything wrong at all.”
In a viral Facebook post, Walton recounts his version of what happened after he was pulled over Thursday night near Williams and Interstate 40. He claims a trooper approached his vehicle and banged on the window with the barrel of his service weapon, scaring his daughter, who was sitting in the backseat, and was screaming for the passenger side window to be rolled down.
In his post he writes:
“My daughter rolled down her window and I explained that we were in a rental car, that we had no weapons, and I was having trouble figuring out how to roll down the front passenger window from my driver’s side door. The officer didn’t listen, and kept yelling louder and more insistently, ordering me to comply with his request as he leered at me down the barrel of his pistol. My daughter panicked and tried to get out of her booster seat to reach forward to roll down the front window, and the officer screamed her at her not to move as he pointed his pistol at her.”
The post goes on to detail that Walton was told to get out of the car and complied, keeping his hands in the air the entire time, but was still threatened by the officer.
“Then, as I had my hands in the air, he yelled, at the top of his lungs, in a voice I will never forget, as my daughter looked on in terror, “Get your hands away from your waist or I’ll blow two holes through your back right now!” My hands were high in the air as he said this, and I was not in any way reaching for my waist. I was utterly terrified.”
DPS is standing by the officer’s actions and said because the plate registered as stolen, the officer executed a high-risk traffic stop. The patrol vehicle didn’t have a dash cam and there is no body camera video of the incident.
“(Walton’s) anger is directed at the wrong people. We were not the ones that reported the plates stolen and we were not the ones that did not switch out those,” Capt. Damon Cecil with the Department of Public Safety. “The rental car company was.”
The trooper also maintains Walton disobeyed his commands and moved his hands toward his waist, which prompted him to threaten to shoot.
Walton was detained for a short period of time and released once it was determined the car wasn’t stolen.
DPS said they’ve looked into Walton’s allegations and said a dispatch recording of the officer before and after the incident tells a different story.
“We listened to that,” Cecil said. “We didn’t hear a trooper that was out of control.”
12 News reached out to Fox Rent A Car and they sent this statement:
“We have completed our internal investigation of Mr. Walton’s unfortunate August 11th traffic stop by an Arizona State Trooper. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s August 13th press release, “the rental company had not replaced the vehicle plates when the front plate was stolen…” however, their assertion is completely mistaken because the state of Arizona does not even issue front license plates.The vehicle in question was registered in Arizona, and, along with the one and only rear plate (as issued/required by the state of Arizona) was reported stolen in California with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department on 11/12/15. The vehicle, with the one and only corresponding rear Arizona plate, was recovered by the Oakland Police Department on 11/17/15 and the vehicle was cleared by the Oakland Police Department on that same day to return to the rental fleet. Oakland’s Police Department must have been unaware that Arizona does not issue front license plates when they issued their “stolen plate” report. However, we are surprised that the Arizona Department of Public Safety would suggest that Fox is somehow responsible for replacing a front Arizona plate the never existed.”
Walton said he doesn’t plan to file a formal complaint with the department about the issue and DPS disagrees with the man’s decision to post online about the incident.
“We get that Mr. Walton is angry and upset, scared and that his daughter was scared, but that does not give you the right to act irresponsibly,” Cecil said.Warning: file_get_contents(): https:// wrapper is disabled in the server configuration by allow_url_fopen=0 in /hermes/bosweb26a/b360/ipg.sbnotebookcom/wp-content/themes/goodnews5/framework/functions/posts_share.php on line 151 Warning: file_get_contents(https://plusone.google.com/_/+1/fastbutton?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cjnotebook.com%2Ftraffic-stop-ends-family-fun-in-arizona%2F): failed to open stream: no suitable wrapper could be found in /hermes/bosweb26a/b360/ipg.sbnotebookcom/wp-content/themes/goodnews5/framework/functions/posts_share.php on line 151