HAZARD — In last week’s edition of the Hazard Herald, Parma Lee Mullins of Hazard wrote a letter to the editor, detailing an incident which occurred on the evening of Dec. 21, when she left her home in Walkertown to purchase items she needed to make Christmas candy. Mullins, who is 69 years old, was pulled over on Highway 15 and put through a sobriety test. The officer on patrol placed Mullins under arrest and drove her to the Hazard A.R.H. Hospital to be drug tested. This is Mullins’s account of the incident, taken from her letter to the editor.
“One patrolman then asked for my drivers license. He looked at my drivers license and then shined a bright flashlight in my eyes. My heart was beating faster by now. I told the patrolman that I didn’t drink, or do drugs, or even smoke cigarettes. I am a Christian lady. I told the patrolman where I go to church and even invited him to come on a Wednesday or Sunday. He looked in my eyes and said, ‘You are either under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I am going to have to arrest you.’
My heart sank. I said, ‘No, please take me home if you think that of me. I just live in Walkertown.’ His response to me was, ‘I don’t know you.’ But he said, ‘I am not going to put handcuffs on you.’ I was scared and shaking.
He said, ‘Come on, get out of that car. I am going to do a sobriety test and breathalyzer on you.’ He then proceeded to do a sobriety test on me in the pouring rain on a hill with gravels under my feet. He did not do a breathalyzer test on me.
My head was drenched and so were my feet and legs. My heart was racing. I was shaking and my body was hurting all over. Then he told me, ‘I am taking you to jail.’
I was praying to Jesus. He said, ‘Call someone to tow your car in. This car cannot sit here on the road tonight.’ I did call someone.
I had to go to A.R.H. for drug testing. I got no immediate results of the tests, as I had hoped to receive because I knew all would be negative. I was told the tests would be sent to the crime lab in Frankfort and the results would not be back for five to six months. With no evidence against me, I was taken to the Perry County Jail, where I was charged with D.U.I. and careless driving. Someone at the jail took a picture of me and put it online for all to see.The patrolman also said to me that if the blood work comes back negative, that must mean I have brain damage or inner ear problems.”
Mullins was released from jail the following morning and immediately visited her family doctor’s office, where she paid to have a drug test administered, which showed that Parma Lee Mullins had neither drugs nor alcohol in her system. However, the documentation from the crime lab in Frankfort is what the police use in court to determine whether or not a suspect was sober at the time of arrest. The results from Frankfort have not yet been delivered to the Hazard Police Department.
Several members of the Wabaco Church, including Parma Lee Mullins and the church’s Pastor Buddy Turner, attended the Jan. 19 Hazard City Commission meeting, where Pastor Turner addressed Mayor Lindon and the City Commissioners. Hazard Police Chief Minor Allen was also at the meeting to address the concerns the congregation had over the arrest of Parma Lee Mullins.
“I got a call that they had arrested her,” Turner said to the City Council, “They told me they had her in the E.R. So I went to the E.R., and when I got there she was soaking wet. Her hair was soaked. Her clothes were soaked. And I said, this lady goes to my church. She’s gone to my church for 30 years. She is not on drugs. Take her back there and give her a drug test.”
Turner presented the City Commission with copies of the drug test Mullins received at her family doctor’s office the morning she was released from jail. Turner then proceeded with his address.
“I stayed until one o’clock that morning trying to get her out of jail. She cried and begged, Buddy please don’t let them take me to jail. If I had it to do over again, I would have gone to jail with her.”
Mayor Lindon spoke to the audience following Buddy Turner’s address.
“I appreciate you coming and bringing everything in front of us,” Lindon said, “And I’d like to say something to the audience. You don’t have to be afraid to be out here with our city policeman. Parma, how long have I known you? Lance, how many times have you all been to my house. They grew up with my family. I knew Tommy Mullins when he worked for Mrs. Phillips. You remember that, Parma? That was back in ‘62 or ‘63. I don’t have to be told what kind of family this is. I know them and they are dear friends of mine. Please, people, do not be afraid to get out here and drive in front of our city policeman, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”
Mayor Lindon assured the audience that the City would look into the situation thoroughly with the security and well-being of the citizens as top priority. The city commissioners also expressed concern for the psychological distress Parma Lee Mullins and others in the congregation had experienced as a result of the arrest. Hazard Police Chief Minor Allen then stood to speak with the concerned citizens and hear their comments.
“I’d like to say a few things, Mayor, to assure everybody,” Chief Allen said, “We answer close to about 20 thousand calls a year. Our D.U.I. rate is probably far lower than what most cities our size have. We don’t discriminate against any person for age or race or anything else as far as that charge is concerned. I am looking at how the case was handled. We are still waiting for the official lab report, as well as court action before we go any farther. Everything has been documented at this point as far as this case is concerned. No one has anything to worry about as far as the police department is concerned. I think we provide a good service for our community. Our guys, I would place them against anybody in the state as far as training or anything else is concerned.”
Buddy Turner and the members of the church did voice appreciation for the work officers in the Hazard Police Department provide for citizens in Hazard. However, the members of the audience were not pleased with the way Parma Lee Mullins was treated and they worried about the effects the arrest had on her, as well as some of her peers in the church, emotionally.
Parma Lee Mullins was scheduled to appear in Perry County District Court March 21 in regards to her Dec. 21 arrest. Judge Ralph McLanahan was filling in for Judge Leigh Ann Stephens. The case was not settled today. Instead, Mullins was given a July 26 court date to return for the continuation of her hearing.
The Hazard Police Department must send all drug screens to Frankfort for official analysis. The process is a lengthy one dictated by Frankfort and often takes five to six months for completion. Although Parma Lee Mullins tested clean the morning following her arrest, the court will wait to see the official documentation from Frankfort, which has yet to arrive. In the meantime, Parma Lee Mullins waits with the hope that she will be able to clear her name after the Frankfort test results are delivered. Mullins has no previous record of arrest. The congregation of Wabaco Church, as well as a multitude of community members, stand by her side.
At last month’s City Commission Meeting, Chief Minor Allen presented the Hazard Police Department’s Yearly Report for 2015. The Hazard Police Department received 21,369 total calls for service, with 2,363 total arrests. The total number of cases opened were 468, with $194,600.82 of property recovered. The police department investigated 609 accidents. The full report can be viewed at hazardpd.org/stats.html.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.