Tammy Cooper, moving forward on lawsuit after being arrested for ‘letting kids play outside’
Police falsely arrested a mother for “child endangerment” after a neighbor reported that she had abandoned her children by letting them ride scooters in the street, the mom claims in court.
In her complaint, Cooper says she lives on a “quiet, suburban cul de sac” and “often allows her 6- and 9-year-old children to ride their scooters on the street while she watches from a chair in the driveway or through the large windows on the front of her house.”
“On the day of her arrest, Cooper’s children were playing on their scooters in the cul de sac when her neighbor, defendant Shelley Fuller, called the City of La Porte Police Department to report that Cooper had ‘abandoned’ her children,” the complaint states.
The Courthouse News details more of the incident:
“Unknown Officer went across the street to talk with defendant Fuller. It was at this point that Fuller reported, for the first time, that she had struck one of Cooper’s children with her vehicle as they played in the street,” the complaint states. “Unknown Officer returned to Cooper’s home, and after another conversation with Unknown Officer, Cooper was placed under arrest for the felony offenses of child endangerment and child abandonment.
“Never at any point were any of Cooper’s children hit by a car as they played in the street. Moreover, Cooper was observing her children the entire time they were outside on the date of her arrest and thus could not plausibly have abandoned them. Despite the fact that Fuller alleged she had hit one of the children with her vehicle, no medical response was called for or needed as it was obvious that neither child had been hit by a car or was hurt in any way. Interestingly, Fuller was never confronted about her lie regarding striking the child with the car. Instead, Cooper, the victim of an angry neighbor, was arrested and charged with a crime in a public and embarrassing manner.”
Cooper was arrested in front of her children, who pleaded with the officer not to take her to jail. The situation was worsened by the fact that the children’s father was away on military duty in Austin.
“Cooper spent 18 hours in custody. Cooper spent over $7,000 in court and legal fees before the unsubstantiated felony charges against her were dismissed,” the complaint states. “The incident also led to an investigation by Child Protective Services, requiring Cooper to take her children to the CPS office in Houston.
“Her children were separated from her and interrogated by child abuse investigators. CPS found no cause for concern regarding the well being of Cooper’s children and dropped the investigation.”
Cooper seeks damages from La Porte Police Department and its officer for false arrest, and from Fuller for defamation.