National outrage over a $2,500 fine for public urination by a 3-year-old has ended with an apology.
The incident began last Sunday in the now ironically-named town of Piedmont, Okla., north of Oklahoma City. Jennifer Warden and her daughter, 21-year-old Ashley Warden, were approached by a local police officer who had been perched at the end of their quiet cul-de-sac of homes.
“He came over and said, ‘Give me your ID,’” Jennifer Warden said of the officer, later identified as Officer Ken Qualls. “I just stood there a minute, and then I asked him why did he need my ID and he said, ‘Public urination.’”
Qualls was looking in the direction of Ashley Warden’s 3-year-old son, Dillon, who had pulled his pants down at the end of their home’s driveway to relieve himself. When the officer realized it was, in fact, Ashley’s son, he ordered her inside to get her photo ID.
When Ashley Warden, who was unavailable for comment today due to her work schedule, came back outside, Qualls issued her a $2,500 ticket for her son’s public urination.
“‘It doesn’t matter because it’s public urination and in public view,’” Warden said Qualls responded when the mother and daughter protested that Dillon was just a toddler and that he was on their two-and-a-half acres of private property, where they’ve lived for eight years.
“First, we couldn’t believe that it was a ticket at all and then we couldn’t believe it was that much,” she said.
The next day, Jennifer and Ashley Warden went to the Piedmont Police Department to lodge a complaint about both the ticket and the officer, who had told the family he was sitting in his cruiser in their neighborhood “because it’s a public road,” Warden said.