When Ernestina Madragon was pulled over by the police in Dallas, she understood that she'd be getting a ticket that she deserved for making an illegal U-turn. It was the citation on the ticket for "not speaking English" and the accompanying fine that confused her. "He asked me if I spoke English. I said I speak a little and understand it," Madragon said.
Officer Bromley, a rookie just out of the police academy, eventually issued a citation for the illegal U-turn, failing to carry her drivers license and being a "non-English speaking driver." Madragon, embarrassed and intimidated, accepted the ticket but knew that something wasn't right. "I wanted to tell him," Madragon told the Associated Press in Spanish on Friday. "I couldn't talk back to him out of respect." Eventually the charges for both the failure to carry her driver's license and being a non-English speaker were dismissed.
But in the last three years, police officers in Dallas have issued 39 citations to drivers for the non-existent infraction of "not speaking English." David Kunkle, chief of police in Dallas, has since issued an apology to the Spanish community in the Texas metropolis, saying, "I was stunned that this would happen. In my world, you would never tell someone not to speak Spanish."