Attacked by a cop on a dark road
If you are in doubt about the vehicle with flashing red and blue emergency lights that is attempting to stop you, there are several things you can do:
If in an isolated area, continue to a public place that is well lighted. While doing this, obey all traffic laws and do not speed up to get there.
If you have a cellular phone, and can use it safely, call the police and let them know that an unmarked vehicle is attempting to stop you.
On Cornville Road, well before the populated area, Sheriff's Sergeant Jeff Newnum apparently tired of waiting for Roberts to reach a settled area. While he was, in fact, a police officer, he now proceeded to justify every fear an American may have about rogue cops. He raced his cruiser in front of Roberts's car, forcing her off the road. He then smashed her driver's-side window with his baton and grabbed a cellphone she was using to check his identity. Accounts vary at this point. While police deny it, the press has reported that Newnum dragged Roberts from her vehicle, threw her to the ground, and handcuffed her while driving his knee into her back.
All of this because she was going 15 miles over the speed limit on a deserted rural road.
Roberts's treatment has been, unsurprisingly, controversial in Arizona's Verde Valley. In a sparsely settled area not known for protests of any kind, 30 supporters showed up at her December 31, 2007 scheduling conference in Judge Janis Sterling's courtroom in Prescott, the county seat. This was the second such hearing, since all charges against Roberts had previously been dropped on November 2, 2007.
Roberts faces two felonies charges: unlawful flight from a law officer and resisting arrest. Resisting arrest? Well, Sergeant Newnum apparently injured himself while breaking into Roberts's car.
But Sergeant Newnum doesn't stand alone. Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh may be many things, but disloyal to his troops isn't one of them. Amidst mounting protests and public outrage, Waugh held a press conference on January 15 to defend his hot-headed officer's abuse of a scared woman on a lonely road. He voiced his full support for Newnum, faulting the sergeant only for cutting off Roberts to force her to the side of the road. Waugh also implied that Roberts was chemically impaired -- the first time such an allegation has surfaced long months after she was taken into custody, and one that has never surfaced in the form of formal charges.
In other words, smashing Roberts's car window and dragging her out of a vehicle because he was impatient is A-OK by the good sheriff.
Dibor Roberts now faces felony convictions and prison time all because she was scared by an unexpected confrontation on a dark and deserted road. As it turned out, she had more reason to be afraid than she knew.
Sergeant Newnum is still roaming the roads of Yavapai County, comfortable in the knowledge that he can abuse innocent people and still enjoy the support of Sheriff Steve Waugh.
And the people of Yavapai County? Well, we're all well-advised to approach any encounter with a Sheriff's deputy with the idea that we'll have to fight in self-defense. Sometimes, vicious thugs don't impersonate police officers -- they are police officers.
Sheriff Steve Waugh can be reached at:
phone: (928) 771-3260