Kansas City, KS — In a first here at the Free Thought Project, we are bring you a story of police leaving a note and ticketing an innocent woman who was wrongly accused of speeding — while she was asleep. In a strange twist, Nikki Richardson, the innocent victim, happens to be a police accountability activist in the community who is seeking reform.
The incident happened early Monday morning when Richardson received a call from relatives telling her that she had received a speeding ticket for driving over 100 mph as well as a ticket for fleeing the scene — along with a note scolding her for her actions. But Richardson had been in bed when the alleged violations took place.
According to Richardson, she lost her driver’s license before getting a new one and someone had apparently found it and handed it to cops during a traffic stop before speeding off. So, cops went to the address on her old license, which happened to be a relatives house and left her a scolding note, along with two citations for crimes she did not commit.
Amazingly enough, Richardson is not upset and chalked up the mistake and the unprofessional note to a lapse in training.
“There was clearly a training gap there,” Richardson told The Kansas City Star. “But I think it speaks to a bigger problem. A talking-to is going to fix the (ticket) delivery issue — the process, the procedure. But it’s not going to fix the level of arrogance that went along with that decision — to say, ‘Oh, well, you know, this is clearly this person. I’m just going to roll up to her house and write her this note, and tell her shame on you, you should make better decisions.’”
Training was certainly an issue here as police actually had Richardson’s ID and simply needed to look at the photo and then the driver to see that it was not her. What’s more, Richardson didn’t lose her car, so when police pulled up her information, they would have known that it was not Richardson’s vehicle either.
“He either didn’t look at the person, or there was some form of bias that seeped into his decision-making that made him just so sure that that must be the right person.
“If you’re working in a community, you have to be able to know your community. You have to be able to look at an ID and be able to know that that’s not the same person, she said,” adding, “I definitely think it was a ‘we all look alike’ mentality. In a community that you serve that has predominantly Black people in it, you can’t make that mistake.”
After getting the tickets, Richardson went to the police station and told them what happened, and they quickly removed them from her record and admitted their mistake.
“We’ve got to get away from this idea that police are so perfect. They’re human. They’re going to make mistakes just like everybody else. But they chose a profession that deserves a higher level of scrutiny,” she said. We agree, and they most certainly deserve every bit of scrutiny.
Whether or not the officers will receive any discipline for their unprofessional behavior is unclear, but not likely. What’s more, I am sure the residents of the home would much rather receive a note in the mailbox instead of a kicked in door and an AR-15 to the face.
Perhaps this can be a training moment for police across the country. Had the officers actually had the right suspect, the approach of leaving a note and a ticket in the mailbox is far safer than launching into a high speed chase and endangering not only the officers and the suspect but everyone who they pass on the road.