(Updated June 7, 2012, at 8:00 pm MDT)
This photo, taken last week by an Aurora, Colo., police officer during a ‘Click It or Ticket’ stop, has gone viral. In addition to the gas can being buckled into the car seat instead of the toddler and the toddler being unbuckled, note there is no cap on the gas can. But wait; it gets better.
Today the Denver Post reports that when questioned by the officer, the mother, Sandra Ramirez, claimed her 3-year-old son was buckled into the car seat when she was first stopped, but that during the stop he wiggled out and moved over to the passenger seat. Ramirez explained to a local TV station:
“He unbuckled it,” Ramirez told 9NEWS. “He knows how to unbuckle it. I did not notice him until [out of] the corner of my eye as I’m turning. The lights are flashing behind me [and] he jumped over and put on his big-boy belt.”
Ramirez was originally stopped for making an illegal turn. She was cited for the illegal turn, no proof of insurance, and three counts of seat-belt violations (a 14-year-old was also in the car).
“It is just a big misunderstanding, and I’m sorry if I offended anybody, but I’m not a bad mom,” Ramirez told 9News. She said she is going to sell the car and not drive again.
So a 3-year-old unbuckled his seat belt, moved over to the passenger seat, and then buckled the gas can into the car seat? And despite what the law says about children that age always being buckled into a child safety seat, he knows about his “big-boy belt”? And there was an illegal turn, no proof of insurance, and three seat-belt violations. And the mother thinks the solution to all this is just to sell the car and quit driving?
Wow. Just … wow.
Update: A new report from Denver’s Channel 7 includes a video interview with Ramirez (if you can get it to play) and some additional information:
Ramirez also had a 2003 domestic violence arrest in Aurora that included charges of assault and battery, accord [sic] to Colorado arrest records. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence-related assault.
That same year, Ramirez was arrested for obstructing police in Arapahoe County, records show.
Channel 4 also has posted a video of Ramirez:
And from the local Fox affiliate: