Baltimore Police Arrest Couple Asking For Directions to the Interstate

Joshua Kelly and Llara Brook, of Chantilly, Virginia are new converts to Mapquest. The couple was returning from watching the Baltimore Orioles beat Kansas City when they became lost trying to find the interstate – a very common occurrence for people not familiar with Baltimore. Their mistake was assuming that Officer Natalie Preston was there to help them. When they pulled over to ask her for directions, she gave them a ticket for running a stop sign and then refused to give him even a hint of how to get back on the interstate. When they then tried to ask another officer, Preston allegedly pulled over and not only prevented that officer from giving directions, but proceeded to arrest the couple for trespass. I just saw this story from 2006 and I am trying to determine its current status.


Kelly recounted that when they asked Preston for directions she responded, “you found your own way in here, you can find your own way out.”

Preston, a six-year veteran, then saw the couple pull over next to another cruiser and immediately intervened. Kelly recounted her saying “my partner is not going to step in front of me and tell you directions if I’m not.”

She then proceeded to arrest them.

I have to say that this is not the first time that I have heard complaints from people at Baltimore games about the attitude of Baltimore police officers. However, if proven true, this account would indicate someone who should not be given law enforcement authority.

Ironically, the city has been trying to get officers to be nicer to people, including tourists with a new policy that discourages arrest when advice is sufficient:

“It is important to remember that a timely word of advice rather than arrest … can be a more effective means of achieving a desired end.”

The Baltimore police have contested their story and said that the couple was “argumentative,” here. In her police report, Preston does not appear to even mention that the couple was seeking directions. Instead the report states: “The driver, Mr. Kelley, became argumentative and began attempting to tear the citation out of the book … and I had to take it out of his hands.” Kelley denies that account.

These would not appear to be the type of people who lack respect for officers as a general matter: both Kelley’s and Brook’s parents are police officers in Pennsylvania.

For the full story, click here.

30 thoughts on “Baltimore Police Arrest Couple Asking For Directions to the Interstate”

  1. File complaints in writing – never over the phone – cops are likely to write up your complaint using their own intentionally inaccurate wording. File complaints in writing

  2. Kevin’s comments reminded me of the song Streets of Baltimore. I mean, it is right up there with Bobby Bare’s super hit (one of JT’s favortites) DROP KICK ME JESUS (Through the Goalposts of Life)…

  3. Maybe this decision will help my state get into the Baltimore mindset:

    Gov. Chris Christie draws sharp criticism on decision to not reappoint N.J. Supreme Court Justice Wallace
    By Statehouse Bureau Staff
    May 04, 2010, 5:00AM

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/05/gov_chris_christie_draws_sharp.html

    And here is some reaction to that move:

    Gov. Christie may have picked a fight he’s ‘almost certain to lose’ with N.J. Supreme Court nominee By Tom Moran/ The Star-Ledger
    May 04, 2010, 7:00AM
    TRENTON — Senate President Steve Sweeney picked up his phone Monday morning and listened as Gov. Chris Christie dropped a political bomb onto this lap. Supreme Court Justice John Wallace, a close ally of Sweeney, had to go. The governor was removing him, the first time a sitting justice has been removed from the bench since the Constitution was…

    http://blog.nj.com/njv_tom_moran/index.html

    :
    “Been working tail off lately,hello everybody.”

  4. Have you ever been to Baltimore?
    If you haven’t, don’t go. It really sucks.
    Plus at night there’s only a small handful of streets on which you can walk safely.

    Then there is the red light district, which is only one block away from the largest police station in the city. Strange, isn’t it?

    Speaking of strange Baltimore, there is a reason why Edgar Allan Poe wrote some of his best work there.

    Then there is Pimlico…

    Are you going?

    Thus spoke the raven, “Nevermore!”

  5. All I gotta say is, what kinda man would ask directions from a *lady* cop—no less—and in front of his girlfriend?

    Everyone knows men never ask directions, even when hopelessly lost–a not so infrequent occurrence.

    B- thanks for the follow-up

  6. I found this follow up story:

    BALTIMORE Aug 25, 2006 5:00 AM Examiner.com Cleveland-
    A city traffic court judge found a tourist arrested for asking directions in Cherry Hill after an Orioles game not guilty Tuesday of running a stop sign.

    In courtroom drama unusual for the city’s Wabash Avenue traffic court, Judge Kathleen Sweeney said there was not enough evidence to convict Josh Kelley of Chantilly, Va., for running the stop sign.

    The arrest of Kelly and his girlfriend, Llara Brooks, ignited controversy after they said Baltimore police officer Natalie Preston arrested them for asking directions. The couple claimed that Preston refused to help them after they became lost trying to find Interstate 95 after an Orioles game.

    Kelley said under oath that Preston was hostile.
    “She said, “You found your way in, you can find your way out,” Kelley said.

    Preston said under questioning by Nathaniel Fick, the couple’s attorney, that they never asked for directions.
    “They did not,” she said.

    Cross-examining Brooks, Preston seemed defiant as officers in the front row of courtroom shook their heads and chuckled.
    “Did you ever ask me for help?” Preston asked.

    “Yes, ma’am, I did,” Brooks responded.

    After the trial, Fick would not say if the couple was planning on filing a lawsuit against the city.
    “We’re pleased with the judge’s verdict,” he said.

  7. JT,

    Please keep on looking … I’d love to know if everybody just dropped the whole thing or if something was done.

  8. Someone should point out that the incident occurred in 2006. Does anyone know if the controversy was resolved, or just forgotten? Any suit filed/pending/settled?

  9. Guess I won’t be making any trips to Baltimore any time soon; IF EVER!!

  10. Rent the “Wire” if you want to know more about the Baltimore Police Dept.

  11. I went to all three of the recent Red Sox vs. Orioles games in Camden Yards, and I would have to say that the City of Baltimore, its fans, police and stadium workers, are about the most friendly and polite group you will ever encounter. Other than a few taunts as we were leaving the game on Sunday (which is to be expected after getting swept), we were welcome every where we went, even dressed in our full Red Sox regalia (which was most of the weekend ;-). That of course doesn’t mean there aren’t a few bad apples. Hopefully the City of Baltimore will figure out a way to get rid of this officer before she causes any more damage.

  12. In my opinion anyone actually wanting a job as police officer, or for that matter any position involving the exercise of power should automatically be barred as being psychologically unsuitable.

  13. Sounds like a scene straight out of “Elmo in Grouchland” … in Grouchland if you ask a policeman for help, you get thrown in jail where, if you get tired of screaming, they will provide a Grouch to scream for you.

    The fact that both Kelley’s and Brook’s parents are police officers in Pennsylvania really works against the arresting officer in Baltimore. She crossed the Thin Blue Line …

    In reading the full article I see that The Virginia couple spent eight hours in jail before authorities released them without charges. Yet Preston’s police report of the circumstances indicates she told the couple she would arrest them for trespassing — on a public street lined with public housing units. Were they arrested or not and if they weren’t arrested then how did they end up in jail for eight hours? Can any of our fellow bloggers who are lawyers or LEOs enlighten me?

    And why is this Preston person still on active duty?

  14. Dear Baltimore P.D.,

    People tend to get argumentative around jerks.

  15. Baltimore.

    Enjoy the pending lawsuit.

    Preston.

    Enjoy the pending unemployment.

  16. If only the vehicles had video–this is another case where I think it would probably be more consistent with the arrestees’ version than the arrestor’s.

  17. Talk about a serious power trip. Don’t prospective police officers go through some sort of psychological evaluation to determine if one has anger issues? If they can relate well to civilians? If they have superiority complexes?

    If I ever visit Baltimore, which I would like to do one day, I’ll make sure I’ve mapped out EVERYTHING, how to get in, get out, and where the public restrooms are.

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