Woman Refuses Sobriety Test Deputy Slams Her Face into Pavement


One bloody scrape trailed from her left eye to the corner of her mouth, where it met a wide bruise on her chin. More blood-red patches marred her nose, forehead and the skin between her eyes.

Bobbie L. Mael of Lockport says in legal papers that her arms and legs were bruised, too, and she suffered a concussion when an Erie County Sheriff’s deputy threw her face first onto the Transit Road parking lot she had pulled into because she felt sick.

He was insisting she get out of her auto to take a field sobriety test.

She didn’t want to.

“A person is compelled to follow the lawful orders of a police officer,” Deputy Lee Richard said when Mael’s lawyers deposed him later.

Mael filed her lawsuit against Richard and Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard in 2013, months after the encounter in northern Erie County early Christmas morning 2012. But the pictures of her bloodied face entered the public realm just days ago, when presented as evidence in her lawyer’s request for Richard’s personnel file.

The lawyer, Jon Louis Wilson of Lockport, wants to know more about Richard’s training and whether he has been disciplined in the past for excessive force. Wilson said his request is justified because of the deputy’s answers during a deposition.

When deposed, Richard acknowledged drivers can refuse to take a field sobriety test, though they can face penalties later for their refusal.

But the deputy then said he ordered the woman out of her car because he expected her to take a field sobriety test anyway.

“I am not able to compel a person to perform field sobriety tests,” Richard said in the deposition. “I can ask them if they wish to perform them, and I can ask a person to step out of their vehicle. It is a lawful command by a police officer.”

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