Crime

A fake cop dragged her from a car during a ‘traffic stop,’ officials say. But she fought back.

A lawsuit filed against Hancock County says Stephanie Martinez and her three children, all from South Carolina, were illegally detained in a locked room at the Hancock County Public Safety Complex on U.S. 90, while her husband sat behind a locked gate and deputies searched the family van. The vacationing family was released after four hours, having broken no laws, the lawsuit says.
A lawsuit filed against Hancock County says Stephanie Martinez and her three children, all from South Carolina, were illegally detained in a locked room at the Hancock County Public Safety Complex on U.S. 90, while her husband sat behind a locked gate and deputies searched the family van. The vacationing family was released after four hours, having broken no laws, the lawsuit says. Sun Herald file

A woman on her way home from work on a dark, rural road stopped for blue lights, only to be dragged from her vehicle by a male she thought was an officer.

The driver of a white pickup truck pulled her over near a school, but she fought back and he got in the truck with another male and they drove off.

The woman reported it to Hancock County deputies about 7:20 p.m. Sunday, saying the driver of an extended-cab pickup truck had a blue light on his dashboard. She said it’s an older-model truck.

The woman said she he pulled her over on Leetown Road and the adjacent road that leads to West Hancock Elementary School, Bass said.

She said a male got out of the truck, tried to pull her out through her window but she wouldn’t budge, so he opened the car door and dragged her out, Chief Deputy Don Bass said.

“She fought back and got some minor injuries but she was more upset than she was hurt,” Bass said.

The woman told deputies another male got out of the truck and was looking in her car while she tussled with the other male. Then the males suddenly got in the truck and left.

“We don't have any reason to not believe her story,” Bass said.

“We need the public's help to identify the person with a white truck that has a blue light. It could be your neighbor, a friend, a family member or someone else you know.”

“It’s not our policy to use an unmarked vehicle for a traffic stop. I'm not saying we wouldn't do it but it would have to be special circumstances,” Bass said.

Drivers who fear for their safety when blue lights indicate they should pull over can call a police dispatch center or their nearest law enforcement office to report a vehicle is trying to pull them over, Bass said.

Drivers could also continue to drive at the posted speed limit until you reach a safe place, especially a well-lit place if it’s at night. You can use your blinker or tap your brakes to acknowledge you see the blue light.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hancock County Sheriff's Office at 228-466-6900.

The sheriff's department has not received any similar reports, Bass said. But if it’s happened to anyone else, investigators want to know.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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