CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's a story that has been played out too many times before: a routine traffic stop taking a turn where people end up on the evening news or even worse, dead.
Fortunately, this story doesn't involve death, although Neki Wilmore-Holmes did fear for her life the night she was stopped driving her husband and three kids in their rental car with Mississippi plates.
There are two sides to the story: through Neki's eyes and behind the badge of the Chester County Sheriff's Department.
Neki Wilmore-Holmes is a black woman. On Saturday, October 21, she left Youngstown, a traditionally black community in South Carolina.
Neki and her family were traveling home to Rock Hill when they saw an officer pulled off to the side of the road in Chester County.
Wilmore-Holmes was sure to not speed but a few miles later, she saw blue lights in her rearview mirror.
"I automatically hit my hazard lights and dialed 911," Neki told NBC Charlotte. As she and her family traveled along Highway 9, Neki said she was too scared to stop on the side of the road.
NBC Charlotte obtained the 911 call from Chester County.
"I'm afraid to pull over so I have my emergency lights on and I'm driving to a store in a well-lit area," she told dispatch.
Robert Kittle, the communications director for the South Carolina Attorney General's office, told NBC Charlotte there is no clear law on what to do if you are afraid to pull over, but putting on your hazard lights and calling dispatch to confirm an officer is behind is you is recommended.
Wilmore-Holmes did both of those things, but what she did next landed her in handcuffs.
Police officer's point of view
Saturday nights are traditionally busy for police officers.
People pollute the roads, many after polluting their bodies, which keeps officers on alert.
An officer ran the tags with a description saying the owner didn't match Wilmore-Holmes' rental car.
"You can tell her to go on and pull over," an officer said on the 911 call obtained by NBC Charlotte.
"I'm not pulling over because I'm afraid too," Neki said to dispatch.
"OK, well he's advising me to tell you to go ahead and pull over," dispatch told Neki.
Neki doesn't comply, forcing other officers to assist, eventually getting the car to pull over.
She was detained until police realize the simple mistake that led to the stop.
OFFICER: "Hey that [license] plate that he ran, what state was that?"
DISPATCH: "South Carolina."
OFFICER: "That's what the [bleep] I thought!"
OFFICER: "Can you please run Mississippi [license plate]?"
DISPATCH: "He didn't tell me Mississippi!"
Wilmore-Holmes' rental car had a Mississippi license plate and the proper registration. The Chester County policeman who ran the plate had the wrong state.
Chester County has launched an internal investigation as to whether they properly handled the situation.
Until then, we're left to learn that a simple miscommunication could result in a tragedy. Fortunately, no one was hurt in this case.
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