‘Felt like a life-and-death situation’: Group celebrating birthday mistakenly pulled over by Placer County deputies

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PLACER COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — A night of celebration turned into a night of terror for two couples in Placer County, who say they were wrongly stopped by deputies over the weekend.

Callie Lawson-Freeman and her boyfriend, Richard Finical, were celebrating his birthday on Saturday night with some friends. After a night of fun together, they had left Thunder Valley Casino only to be stopped by Placer County sheriff’s deputies. 

A Placer County dispatcher had advised deputies that a car was stolen from a woman at the casino, who had been hit. 

The couple’s friend, David Booker, was driving them in his wife’s white Honda Civic. He said he noticed two vehicles coming up fast behind him. It wasn’t long before they were pulled over. 

The four of them had to wait inside the car. 

“Not understanding like why we were pulled over,” Lawson-Freeman, who is a Master’s program student, said. “And then we thought it was really weird that no one had come to the window yet.” 

“I kinda advised him to not be fumbling in his pockets as they’re approaching, just so that there’s no questioning with anything,” Aliyah Booker, David Booker’s wife, said. 

David Booker got his ID ready to show an officer, but instead, a deputy on a loudspeaker told him to turn the vehicle off. 

I had no idea what the end was going to look like.

Aliyah booker

“My, like, heart started to race in that moment,” David Booker, a college instructor, said. 

They say everyone was then ordered to put their hands up. 

“I’m thinking hands up. There’s gotta be a gun pointed. Now we’re just confused cause we don’t know what’s going on,” Richard Finical said. 

“We didn’t want to make any sudden movements,” Aliyah Booker recounted. “We just had to look forward and hope we were safe.”

They said the deputies ordered them out of the car one by one. David Booker was the first on out, with his hands up. 

“I started walking backwards, following those commands,” David Booker explained. 

He locked his fingers behind his head and dropped to his knees. 

“I also had my ID in my hand, and they said, ‘Drop the object in your hand.’ So, I just kind of dropped it,” David Booker said. 

 “I know he has guns drawn at him. It literally felt like a life-and-death situation. And I had no idea what the end was going to look like,” Aliyah Booker recalled. 

He was then placed in the back of a patrol car. The deputy tells him they are looking for a stolen car, and he tries to explain the car belongs to his wife. 

Toward the end, they were all in handcuffs and in a patrol car. They said it could have been all avoided if the deputies only listened. 

“That would have saved us all so much trauma,” Lawson-Freeman said. 

They said a deputy offered an explanation. 

“I know, I know. This is a part of the procedure. And they walk away at that point,” Aliyah Booker said. 

The deputy told dispatch the car was not a match. They said the deputies apologized, explaining they were following procedure. 

“They’re responding to a situation that had just unfolded. They needed to make sure that that vehicle either was, or was not, involved. And there’s a protocol and a process to do that safely. And the deputies did everything they needed to do,” Angela Musallam, with the sheriff’s office, said. 

“I think that they knew, that they probably had the wrong car. But I don’t know what it was that made them continue,” David Booker said. 

“I definitely wonder if things would’ve gone differently if we looked different,” Lawson-Freeman said. 

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