Prince George's Councilwoman Questioned on Speeding Charges

She was clocked at 105 mph in a county-issues SUV, but didn't get a speeding ticket

ANCHOR: A Prince George’s County councilwoman is dodging our questions and using security to keep the cameras away. Police clocked her going 105 mph last week on the Beltway and let her off, with only a warning. FOX5’s Will Thomas is on the story, and he’s in the newsroom now with the latest. Will?

THOMAS: According to law enforcement sources, a 14-year police veteran who said he spotted Councilwoman Karen Toles, going over 100 mph on the Beltway. First off, her county vehicle, an SUV, may have been stolen--he didn’t know who was driving. And by the time she stopped, several cruisers had her car surrounded. We have also learned from a well-placed source, this is not the first time recently Toles has been stopped by a Prince George’s County police officer for allegedly driving very fast.

BENOWITZ: That would never happen, unless she was who she was. It’s not possible that that would happen.

THOMAS: He frequently defends clients in Prince George’s County traffic cases. If Councilwoman Karen Toles was traveling 50 mph over the speed limit on the Beltway one week ago, this counselor says, she’s lucky she didn’t wind up in cuffs.

BENOWITZ: Particularly in PG County. That’s unheard of, not to get a ticket or get arrested for that.

THOMAS: Twenty-four hours after news of the traffic stop broke, FOX5 caught up with the councilwoman Wednesday morning at Iverson Mall—a public safety meeting.

TOLES: As you know, public safety is very critical to me in this community.

THOMAS: We tried to speak with Toles as she was leaving.

FOX5: You issued a statement last night, why can’t you just say it on camera?

THOMAS: It appears she received treatment typically afforded movie stars; security officers surrounded her, and shielded Toles from reporters and cameras, even going so far as to speak for the councilwoman.

SECURITY: She’s not seeing with anyone today.

THOMAS: Here’s what happened Wednesday afternoon according to multiple law enforcement sources:

A PG County police officer observed Toles making an unsafe lane-change on the Beltway, near Branch Ave. The officer believes she may have been driving her county-issued SUV at speeds at excess of 105 mph. When Toles pulled over on Branch Ave, our source said she told police she’s a councilwoman. Toles received a $90 for an unsafe lane-change, and a warning for excessive speed.

POLICE: The in-car camera speed did indicate a 105 mph. That was the speed the officer was traveling in an effort to catch up with the violator’s vehicle.

THOMAS: Police say that alone wasn’t probable cause to issue Toles a ticket, because the officer did not have enough time to properly pace her before she pulled off the Beltway. We caught up with County Executive Rushern Baker, he had this to say about Toles:

BAKER: Individuals are going to have individual mistakes. I think she owned up to it today in her statement. The council will move forward—we’ll move forward. I’ve worked with her in the past, I’ll work with her in the future.

THOMAS: The councilwoman released another statement and once again apologized for the incident and says she will not drive a county-owned vehicle again until she completes a driver improvement course first.

Tonight, we have also learned from a law enforcement source, well-placed, a Prince George’s County police officer pulled her over recently on Pennsylvania Ave near the Beltway in Prince George’s, and the officer believes she was traveling as fast as 100 mph. She was not issued a ticket, and we don’t know why.

ANCHOR: It does make you wonder, what had happened if that had been you or me? Certainly we would not have received that treatment. Hey, Will, how will police proceed?

THOMAS: An executive review of last week’s stop will be conducted, we’re told. Remember, there’s a dash-cam video that recorded all of it. The county’s inspector general will be a part of it, and recommendations will be made to the chief of police.


Published under: Crime Blotter , Video