Handicapped woman arrested for using mobility scooter on sidewalk, now suing
A Brookings woman is facing felony charges after she was cited by police for using a scooter she says is for her disability.
Jennifer Gayman says that she was driving home from a karaoke bar on the night of Nov. 18 last year.
Brookings police pulled her over and, in an interaction recorded on body camera, told her she was being cited for driving a scooter on the sidewalk, and for not wearing a helmet.
In the body camera video obtained by KATU, Gayman can be heard telling the officers that she is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"I don't know why this is happening to me, especially when I've been riding around this scooter for two years in this town," said Gayman.
Speaking to KATU over video chat, Gayman said she is handicapped due to Best's disease with macular degeneration of both eyes, COPD, and peripheral neuropathy among other issues.
"They had me there for 25 minutes, and the laws they looked up don't even match the description of my mobility scooter," she said.
Body camera video shows the officers searching for the Oregon laws tied to motorized scooter use. She was charged with driving her scooter on the sidewalk as well as not wearing a helmet.
According to article 35.137 of the latest Americans With Disabilities Act, public entities must allow those with mobility handicaps to use wheelchairs in any areas open to public use.
In the 508(2) of the ADA, a mobility scooter is included in the definition for wheelchair.
"I'm going around asking people if they've been given a ticket before, and they're saying no. I don't know why it was me," said Gayman.
Upon being cited, Gayman was warned that she could not drive her scooter back to her home without a helmet. She would either need to walk with it or leave it behind.
Body camera footage shows Gayman driving off on her scooter, leading to a chase where Brookings police used full lights and sirens.
"They chased me home with their lights and sirens. The fastest I was going was about 20 mph on that little scooter."
She was arrested at her home after parking her scooter in the garage.
Gayman is suing the city of Brookings and the Brookings Police Department. She says the interaction left her feeling unprotected.
"I literally have to bring my prescription with me wherever I go," said Gayman. "I'm locked in my house a lot not wanting to leave on my mobility scooter because I feel like I'm going to get stopped all the time."
The city of Brookings confirmed that it was served a tort claim on April 22; however, neither the city nor police department would comment on pending litigation.
Coinciding with that suit, Jennifer Gayman is facing five charges, including felony charges for eluding a police officer.
Her first court appearance is May 6.