Cellphone video captured an emotional dispute on the side of the 10 Freeway in the Mid-City area last Friday between members of a funeral procession and a California Highway Patrol Officer who pulled them over.
A uniformed traffic escort was leading a motorcade of about 100 cars to Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills to bury family matriarch Sandra Louise Behn-Capel when they were stopped for traveling too slow on the freeway, according to Behn-Capel's daughter Rachel Behn-Humphrey.
She claimed the actions of the CHP officer were outrageous and showed no compassion.
"I'm looking and I'm seeing the car my mom was in on the side of the freeway too. That was embarrassing," said Behn-Humphrey.
Reached for comment on Saturday, a Highway Patrol official said the motorcycle driver who was leading the procession was pulled over after attempting to halt traffic in the No. 5 lane so that the motorcade could pass.
Although the officer initiated the traffic stop on the lead vehicle only, and indicated to other members of the procession that they could continue on, some of them chose to pull over as well, said Sgt. Jose Nunez, a CHP spokesman.
The motorcycle driver was cited for illegal lighting, and his vehicle was impounded because his driver's license was not current, according to Nunez.
On behalf of the law-enforcement agency, the sergeant offered his sympathies to Behn-Capel's grieving loved ones.
"The California Highway Patrol would like to extend condolences to the family for their loss," he said in an interview.
The deceased woman's daughter said the traffic stop delayed the family's arrival at the cemetery by more than an hour.
"A lot of the family members did not make it to the gravesite," Behn-Humphrey said. "We sat on the side of the freeway so long, they had to go on. I saw some of them drive past."
Behn-Humphrey has retained an attorney and was demanding a public apology from the Highway Patrol. Her lawyer admits the officer had complete discretion to pull over a traffic escort, but said the incident was handled poorly, and caused the family tremendous emotional distress.
"It exceeds the bounds of all human decency," said family attorney Edward Ramsey. "An officer has the discretion to stop or not stop a funeral procession. If it was me, I would have probably escorted this procession to the burial."
Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously reported the deceased woman's last name. The story has been updated.