A mom on vacation with her family in North Carolina suddenly found herself in jail on child abuse charges -- because she let her 11-year-old son drive a golf cart for a couple of blocks, The Charlotte Observer reported Saturday.
Julie Mall, 43, also said police roughed her up during her arrest last summer. But the arresting officer said he simply had to get her under control because she was drunk and aggressive.
The family was vacationing in July on Bald Head Island, south of Wilmington. Mall works as a software sales representative and lives outside Charlotte, the newspaper added.
The mom claimed she knew she was wrong to let her son drive the golf cart, because he was under 16 and had no valid license. Still, she said her husband sat right next to their son, and the path back to their cottage at dusk was largely clear.
Arresting officer James Hunter said he stopped the golf cart after spotting the boy behind the wheel, according to the police report. The officer claimed that when he approached the parents, “I immediately observed both to be intoxicated. In explaining the rules and regulations to the pair, both were uncooperative and obstinate, with the female stating several times, ‘Well, just cite me.’”
The officer said Julie Mall refused to give him her hands, dropping to the ground and getting in the way of other people and vehicles on the road.
The mother told the newspaper she'd had only one glass of wine hours earlier. She claimed that after her children left in tears, she asked her husband to drive the golf cart back to the cottage so he could fetch bug spray.
Mall claimed one officer threatened to handcuff her if she didn't return to her golf cart. “He lunged across at me, twisting my arm behind my back. I’m hysterical. I’ve never been that scared of anything in my life.”
A doctor reportedly determined she'd suffered injuries consistent with whiplash.
Mall's niece Stephanie Phelps described the officer, saying, “I thought maybe he was having a bad day. He was agitated. He was yelling, making vigorous hand gestures, leaning into the golf cart.”
Hunter filed charges including child abuse and resisting a public officer. Officials released her from jail the next day. The state dismissed its case after the officer failed to show up to court in October.
The mom told The Observer she still couldn't believe how it all unfolded. “I'm not a menace to society.”