'I don't know what to do, I'm in Georgia': Canadian woman's Snap goes viral after arrest
COOK CO., GA (WALB) - "OK, I'm in the back of a police car, I'm in cuffs.," said Emily Nield as she sat in the back of a Cook County deputy's vehicle.
Emily, a Canadian woman, posted a Snapchat video from the back of a Cook County Sheriff's vehicle last month after she was arrested for not having a valid driver's license.
Emily told deputies she had a valid Canadian driver's license but said they put her in handcuffs anyway.
Interstate 75 brings approximately one million travelers through Cook County each month. With those travelers, law enforcement regularly encounters individuals who are engaged in crimes such as identity theft and will have on their person a license that is not their('s) or of those stolen or illegally reproduced. That is why we follow Georgia DDS guidelines and request a passport or visa to verify their identity. - Capt. Brent Exum of the Cook County Sheriff's Office
Emily's Snapchat went viral after her arrest on April 2 and she has done several interviews with Canadian media telling her story.
Emily was driving back to Tennessee from Florida when she was pulled over by a Cook County deputy for speeding.
The deputy asked for her driver's license and Emily, a Canadian citizen, showed the officer her Ontario license. But the deputy told her, it wasn't valid.
"I was confused. It was so loud at the side of the highway I thought I had misheard her," explained Emily.
The deputy asked Emily to pull out an original copy of her passport, something Emily said she doesn't keep on her. Next thing she knew, she was in handcuffs.
Below is a WALB digital exclusive uncut interview with Emily:
"I've never been arrested, I've never been in cuffs," said Emily in her Snapchat from the deputy's vehicle.
After the arrest, Emily said she was told she would have to pay the almost $900 bond in cash or stay in jail until a June court date.
The Cook County Sheriff's Office, in a statement released Monday night, said that's not true.
On CBC Toronto, it was reported that had Ms. Nield not post a cash bond she would have been in jail until June 12. That is not correct. Georgia law states that any individual who is arrested on a non-warrant is entitled to a first appearance hearing to be advised of their rights and bond within 48 hours of arrest. It is important to note that despite the driver's license issue, Georgia law allows law enforcement officers to require the posting of a cash bond for non-residents even for the offense of speeding because their driver's license cannot be displayed in lieu of bail. - Cook County Sheriff's Office
Without the cash, Emily said she felt trapped.
"Eventually they just let me pay in debit because I was telling them the only way I can pay in cash is if you have an ATM inside the jailhouse," explained Emily.
Finally, Emily said a deputy looked up the law and released her.
"I was able to drive an hour north and then I checked into a hotel, I needed to shower jail off me 'cause I was fingerprinted, mugshot, I wore orange," said Emily.
The Cook County Solicitor Matthew Bennett did say he dropped the license charge against Emily. He said the confusion was from Emily telling the deputy she lived in Tennessee, where she would have to register for a Tennessee license.
After reviewing the facts of the case and in consultation with the arresting agency, I chose not to prosecute the case and entered a nolle prosequi. The probate court worked with Ms. Nield's attorney to have her record restricted and sealed. The confusion that arose in this case was the fact Ms. Nield stated she lived in Tennessee. Non-permanent residents in the United States legally are permitted to get a Tennessee driver's license or ID card that expires at the end of their visa. - Bennett
But Emily told WALB that her license is valid six months after leaving Canada and that she had left the country on February 4.
Emily said that despite what happened, she doesn't have any hard feelings against the sheriff's office or the state of Georgia.
"The Cook County judge and the probate court were amazing. Everyone I dealt with in Georgia was amazing in helping this case be dismissed and I cannot thank them enough," said Emily.
Emily told WALB that she doesn't plan to file a lawsuit against the sheriff's office.
After Emily's Snapchat video went viral, the Canadian Consulate reached out to Cook County officials for a conference call on Tuesday.
Below is a press release from Cook County about the conference call between the Canadian Consul General and Cook County officials:
ADEL, GA – Tuesday, May 8, 2018, Canadian Consul General Nadia Theodore and Cook County, Georgia officials meet via conference call to discuss how the parties could move forward in the wake of an incident involving a Canadian citizen.
Cook County Sheriff Douglas Hanks, Capt Brent Exum, and Judge Chase Daughtrey participated in the meeting with Ms. Theodore, which she initiated, to discuss best practices for law enforcement officers and Canadian citizens that visit Georgia. As a result of the meeting, Cook County Officials assured Canadian travelers that Georgia is open for business, their citizens would be treated with respect, due process would be afforded to it citizens, and any non-citizen who is arrested would be able to contact their regional consulate.
"Today's meeting highlights what can be achieved when lines of communication are open. I appreciate Consul General Theodore listening to our thoughts, suggestions, and remedies as it relates to travelers from our respective countries. I look forward to future dialogue with the Canadian government on important issues such as these." stated Judge Chase Daughtrey.
"The men and women of my office are dedicated public servants. They are taught to be professional and courtesy. As I explained to Consul General Theodore, her citizens will be treated with respect and dignity and will be treated no different than that of Americans or any other person whom we come into contact with." remarked Sheriff Douglas Hanks.
For the first time Wednesday night WALB heard from the Canadian Consulate after Emily's Snapchat went viral.
The consulate released the following statement:
Canadian drivers' licenses are valid for use in the United States and we expect and anticipate that local law enforcement are aware of the relevant statutes. We encourage Canadians detained or arrested while in the United States to notify the nearest Canadian government office of their arrest.
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