A Montreal business owner is outraged after getting arrested and fined for failing to put her chihuahua on a leash.
The woman admits she lied about her name, which led to her arrest. But at least one lawyer believes the officer’s response, in this case, crossed the line.
“The police officer really proceeded in the most severe fashion and I’m not sure it’s justifiable,” criminal defense lawyer Eric Sutton said.
Sabrina Tutino was taking a stroll outside her apartment with her pet chihuahua last Thursday when police moved in to question her. While her dog does have registered tags, she insists the two-pound chihuahua is too small to wear a collar let alone a leash.
“He said ‘your dog’s not on a leash.’ I said ‘I can’t put her on a leash she’s too tiny,'” Tutino said.
The 41-year-old says the incident quickly escalated after she refused to speak French and claimed she wasn’t from Montreal.
“I’m like ‘I’m gonna pass out; what do I do?’ I lied it’s true I did lie I gave him a false name,” Tutino told Global News.
Police ended up arresting her for providing false identification. She was taken to the police station and walked away with two tickets amounting to $1084, and a promise to appear in criminal court.
Tutino suffers from an anxiety disorder and claims she simply panicked when police began to question her, she claims the officer was intimidating and aggressive.
“Obviously the guy was on a power trip,” Tutino said. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Tutino feels she was bullied by the officers and claims they didn’t allow her to contact a lawyer until she left the police station. She says she’s more than willing to pay the fines for failing to abide by city bylaws requiring a leash and dog tags, but what she can’t accept is that if found guilty she could end up with a criminal record.
Sutton believes police could have acted differently although he warns that misleading police officers could backfire as it did in Tutino’s case.
“You have to just keep your wits about you and if you’re gonna be issued a ticket just go along with it and co-operate,” Sutton said.
Tutino is now considering filing a complaint with the police ethics commission. Montreal police wouldn’t comment on the case but explain that she has every right to contest the decision in court. Her first court appearance for violating article 129 of the criminal code is scheduled for September 1.
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