Kootenai County, ID — Newly-released dashcam video shows a frightening scene unfold for a Washington woman as she’s pulled over on a dark highway in the middle of the night.
Kay Pruczinski, 53, was on her way home from work on April 30, 2010 when an Idaho State Trooper began to follow her. Trooper Allen Ashby followed Pruczinski all the way across the state line, into Washington state, before he decided to pull her over.
After being stopped, Pruczinski became afraid of Ashby and requested that a female officer come to the scene. However, this would not happen.
Ashby noticed that Pruczinski was wearing sunglasses at night and instead of asking her why, he began to escalate the situation. Instead of trying to understand why this 53-year-old woman was fearful of him, he responded with more yelling and force.
According to Pruczinski, she was stopped by a cop the day before and was harassed and mistreated. Getting pulled over the very next day made her apprehensive. Also, the reason she was wearing sunglasses is because she has lupus. Approximately 60 percent of all people with lupus suffer from photosensitivity. The result of light exposure is an instant increase in the effects of lupus symptoms.
According to Web MD, light exposure can cause a lupus flare up, resulting in fever, joint pain, or even organ inflammation.
Pruczinski was in a lot of pain due to the officer’s light in her eyes. She became flustered and attempted to call for help.
At this point, Trooper Ashby feared for his life, according to the police report. He then smashed the scared and suffering woman’s window and dragged her out of the car.
Pruczinski pleaded with Ashby to give her back her sunglasses as all the lights were causing her lupus symptoms to flare up, and she was in agonizing pain. But this would not happen. Instead, Ashby asks her in some Orwellian fashion, “Have I been mean to you”?
While he didn’t immediately tell Pruczinski why he pulled her over, according to the police report, she was clocked doing 9 miles over the speed limit and she had crossed the painted lines. Ashby incorrectly suspected her of a DUI.
However, after dragging this woman from her car, handcuffing her and taking her to jail, officers would later determine that she was indeed sober. But this wouldn’t stop trooper Ashby from getting an arrest. Pruczinski was booked into the Kootenai County jail for the crime of resisting and obstructing a peace officer.
According to Pruczinski, she was thrown in a dirty and cold cell with no toilet paper, no blanket, and no water.
Soon after the incident, Pruczinski filed a lawsuit against Trooper Ashby which included causes of action for injury to property, intentional and negligent infliction of emotion distress, assault, battery, unlawful imprisonment, and civil rights violations under chapter 49.60 RCW.
However, because Ashby is an employee of the state of Idaho, and the lawsuit is filed in Washington because he crossed the state line to make the arrest, the court dismissed the case saying that they had no jurisdiction over Ashby. It has taken five years for the appeals court to finally send her case back to trial.
Trooper Ashby was never disciplined as the department said he acted according to procedure.
If the “procedure” is to smash windows and yank sick old ladies out of their cars in the middle of the night, perhaps it’s time to revisit that procedure.