Cop cites driver for not speaking English

October 23, 2009 12:56:18 PM PDT
Ernestina Mondragon understood she would have to pay a fine when rookie Dallas police officer ticketed her for making an illegal U-turn. But it was a ticket he gave her for being a "non-English speaking driver" that she knew had to be wrong.

"I wanted to tell him," Mondragon told The Associated Press in Spanish on Friday. "I couldn't talk back to him out of respect."

Television station WFAA-TV reported that police officials admit ticket was a mistake since no law prohibits people who don't speak English from driving a private vehicle. Dallas police officials plan to discuss the matter later Friday.

Mondragon had been driving her 11-year-old daughter to school on Oct. 2 when Officer Gary Bromley stopped her. She had forgotten her purse with her license in it while darting out the door that morning after her daughter missed the school bus.

Bromley cited her for making an illegal U-turn, failing to carry her drivers license and being a "non-English speaking driver."

"I felt humiliated. Sad," she said. "I wanted to cry but I couldn't. The anger wouldn't let me."

During the exchange between her and the officer, Mondragon said she used the limited English words and phrases she knows.

"He asked me if I spoke English. I said I speak a little and understand it," she said.

Bromley was just out of the police academy and still under supervised training when he ticketed Mondragon.

When she went court, Mondragon said court staffers seemed puzzled by the charge. The court ultimately dismissed the "non-English" ticket and driver's license citation after Mondragon presented her license.

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