Bloody nose for having a dry lawn
OREM - Two days after Independence Day, 70-year-old Betty Perry experienced an ordeal she said shouldn't be happening in America.
The retired military and U.S. government employee answered the door at her home Friday morning to talk with a police officer about her bone-dry lawn and ended up getting arrested and suffering a bloody nose.
"What have I done?" she asked. "I'm old now. I can't believe this."
The Orem police officer, as yet unnamed by city officials, cited Perry for violating a city ordinance with her "sadly neglected and dying landscape," which resembles dry hay.
When Perry refused to give her name and tried to walk inside to call her son, the officer tried to arrest her, police say. According to a police news release, while she was struggling, she tripped and fell on her doorstop, cutting open the bridge of her nose.
But Perry maintains the officer split her nose when he hit her with the set of handcuffs he was trying to restrain her with.
"As far as I'm concerned, he really abused me - he brutally abused me," Perry said. "For what?"
The officer called for backup, because he was driving a truck, and the now-handcuffed Perry was taken to a holding facility in Orem. She was not given water or allowed to wash her hands or call her son, she said.
"After being booked, supervisors became aware of the circumstances and immediately released the woman and returned her to her home on the basis that there were other options available to handle this situation besides making an arrest and holding the woman in jail," Orem police Lt. Doug Edwards wrote in the news release.
Edwards described the arresting officer as intelligent and professional, and he expected the "learning experience" would not be wasted on him.
Perry was taken to Timpanogos Regional Hospital and treated for her wounds. Besides the cut nose, she sustained bruises on her arms from the handcuffs.
Perry, an avid cross-country RV-driver who recently got back from a trip to Florida, said she has never had a run-in with the law, not even a traffic ticket.
Perry bought her home near 1500 South and 800 East 11 years ago to give to her son. She said she loved the view of the mountains from her property. She said she's spent $25,000 on indoor renovations but just hasn't had the time or money to fix the lawn.
She said she was approached about the problem last year but didn't hear from officers again after a first warning. She said she hasn't been able to get help from Orem or Provo for irrigation or weed removal.
"Nobody, especially an elderly person like her, deserves to be treated like this," said Jason Dauria, a friend.
"I'm sure she had no intent to do any harm," said Charles Kirby, bishop of the local LDS ward. "She's a great lady."
Perry, who isn't sure whether she'll pursue legal action, said she never expected anything like this to happen to her at her age.
"I'm thoroughly exhausted," she said. "I'm very distraught about all this."