There’s a lawsuit out firing up free-range parents and causing plenty of debate about police intervention in parenting. It comes from Houston, Texas and it centers around mom-of-two, Tammy Cooper. After a phone call of complaint by a nosy neighbor about Cooper’s kids playing in the street unattended, police arrested Tammy Cooper for child endangerment, though the charges were later dropped and Cooper was released. Now she’s suing the neighbor for defamation and the police officer for false arrest. While I feel bad for this mother in this circumstance, I have to admit that I also can relate to the woman who peeked through her windows, saw two young kids playing in the street by themselves and decided to call the police.
The particulars of this story seem a little fuzzy. Apparently the neighbor, Shelley Fuller, called the police with Cooper’s 6- and 9-year-old children were riding scooters in the street. Fuller says they were unattended. Cooper says that she was on a lawn chair on the porch the whole time, though she admits that she sometimes watched her little ones from inside the house through her front picture windows while they play in the cul-de-sac. The police officer who responded wasn’t going to pursue the issue further until Fuller said that she had “struck one of Cooper’s children with her vehicle as they played in the street.”
At that point, even though the story about the vehicle incident ended up being completely false, Cooper was arrested on felony charges of child endangerment and child abandonment. The officer also refused to cuff Cooper with her hands in front of her, even though she told him that she had neck and back issues which make it painful for her to have her hands behind her back. After the children were found to have absolutely zero bumps or bruises from an accident that the mother supposedly didn’t respond to or notice, Tammy Cooper was released. CPS did a follow-up investigation, found no problems and the case was closed.
In this particular case, I feel bad for Tammy Cooper. I think it’s horrible that Fuller would lie about a car accident to make it look like the children were in more danger than they were realistically. I am completely confused as to how a woman can say she personally hit a child with her car and not be questioned or prosecuted in any way. And of course, I don’t understand why the officer couldn’t have, at the very least, handcuffed Cooper in the front of her body to save her from pain. In this instance, I believe that Cooper was treated unfairly.
All of that being said, I can still sympathize with the concerned neighbor. And I don’t think that Tammy Cooper’s case means that neighbors have no right butting in when they see behavior that they think is dangerous.