Houston woman says she was profiled and arrested due to non-profit work
When Carolyn “CJ” Heinemann left her house in Katy, TX on Thursday, she never expected to have trouble with the law. However, the 40-year-old Houston native says that very afternoon, she believes she was profiled and arrested by Harris County Sheriff’s deputies.
Just down the road from her home, she was traveling in her car and had moved into a turn-only lane. As she approached a red light at Barker and 529, she came to a stop, then entered the intersection to make a turn but had to stop again when another vehicle made a u-turn. She says this caused her to be stopped on a cross walk.
Heinemann says that’s when a deputy pulled up behind her.
She made the right turn and traveled briefly down the street before being pulled over into an old HEB parking lot. The officer then walked up to her vehicle as other officers began to pull up to the scene. Heinemann claims the deputy told her that she was being pulled over for failure to use a turn signal and stopping on a cross walk, what he said next led her to believe she was being profiled the entire time.
Heinemann has been working with a non-profit group in the area called Houston NORML for the past three years. The group, which works to reform marijuana laws in the state, has been active in the area for about 24 years. Heinemann, who is the group’s volunteer coordinator, had marijuana-related bumper stickers on her car, one of them saying “marijuana safer than alcohol,” along with Houston NORML stickers and a door magnet. She was also carrying t-shirts and other merchandise for the group, as well as wearing a Houston NORML t-shirt because she was headed to a meeting later that evening after shopping for her nephew’s school clothes.
The deputy ordered Heinemann out of the vehicle, claiming that he could strongly smell the odor of marijuana. By this time, Heinemann claims that several large male officers were circling her vehicle and that she did not feel safe exiting her vehicle. She requested the presence of a female officer or a supervisor before agreeing to leave her car, and said that during this time the deputy reached inside her vehicle and unlocked her door.
“I was afraid to get out of my car, the officers were all bigger than me and were working to intimidate me,” she says.
They waited for a supervisor to arrive, and once he was on scene Heinemann agreed to exit her car. It was then that she claims that they grabbed her hand as she got out and arrested her for resisting arrest. Deputies also claimed that she had a suspended license, but declined to go into further detail and did not cite or charge her for it. Heinenmann states that she’s not aware of her license being suspended and has not found anything proving otherwise.
A K9 unit was brought out and alerted on her vehicle, which she claims officers then taunted her, telling her she was busted.
Deputies then searched her vehicle where they found a chef’s knife that she had recently used at a BBQ, which they claim was a concealed weapon. They also found a wooden cigarette dugout which she had previously picked up at a recent event and was trying to find the owner for it. Officers claimed that it was drug paraphernalia. No marijuana was found.
She was then transported to be booked, a ride which she says made her feel very unsafe. Heinemann stated that the arresting deputy was traveling between about 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on Interstate 10 while typing on his laptop. All the while, Heinemann was handcuffed in the back of his cruiser with no seat-belt on.
Upon arrival she learned that she was officially being charged with interfering with an officer’s duties. Heinemann was then subjected to a physical, a full body scan, and bio-metric finger printing, which she felt was an infringement of her privacy.
While waiting to be examined, she met with three girls who were being attended to by a nurse, one who claimed to have been beaten by an officer. Heinemann observed bruises on the girl and missing patches of hair.
Originally detained at about 3:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, she wasn’t released until 9:00 a.m. the following morning on a personal recognizance bond.
She also found out that when a person gets arrested in Harris County, any cash they’re carrying is not returned to them. Instead, they are given a debit card, which she said has usage fees, essentially amounting to theft of her personal property.
“I don’t understand how they can take my personal property and then not give it back to me the way they confiscated it” Heinenmann stated. That wasn’t the only thing she lost either. Also missing was her chef knife, the dugout, and her insurance card, which she fears is being kept by the arresting deputy.
Afterwards, she also had to pay a $260 impound fee to retrieve her vehicle, which was just up the road from her home.
“I’ve been doing activism work for my community for three years now, and not once have I ever been harassed for it” Heinenmann told Texas Cannabis Report.
By: Stephen Carter