An 82-year-old Alabama woman was brought to tears after being handcuffed by two male police officers, arrested and sent to jail after failing to pay a $77.80 garbage bill. Her community described the act as “shameful”.
Martha Menefield was approached by officers at her home on Sunday, Valley City Police insisted the elderly woman had been treated with respect.
Menefield had initially thought the arrest was a bad joke because she thought she had already paid the garbage bill.
‘You’re not joking?’ she said speaking to KTLA before officers, who remained unnamed, slowly handcuffed the elderly woman.
The City of Valley community has blasted police for their “shameful” behavior after arresting an 82-year-old woman over a $77.80 garbage bill – but defiant cops insist she was “treated with respect”.
“The handcuffs, they were so heavy,” she said, tears welling in her eyes as she spoke of the ordeal.
She said one of the officers told her not to cry when she was arrested.
“How would you feel if they came and arrested your grandma?” She asked the officer, who she claims didn’t answer.
“I’m just glad my grandkids weren’t here to see it. That would have upset her. I was so ashamed and it bothered me.’
On Tuesday, Valley Police Chief Mike Reynolds defended the arrest in a post on the city’s Facebook page.
But thousands took to Facebook to defend the 82-year-old woman, who had lived at the Valley home for almost 30 years, beating officers and calling her behavior “shameful”.
One user said: “This is so shameful. Those responsible deserve every bit of negativity it entails.’
Another user begged the mayor to pardon Menefield: “Without the government, who would kidnap an 82-year-old who forgot to pay her garbage bill for a few months?
“God forbid some of your officer pool pays less than $100 combined. I’m sure it took a lot more police resources to arrest her.
“Mayor Riley, you have an opportunity to remedy this nonsense by pardoning Ms. Martha. Use it.’
Martha Menefield was approached by officers at her home on Sunday and initially thought the arrest was a bad hoax as she thought she had already paid the garbage bill
On Tuesday, Valley Police Chief Mike Reynolds defended the arrest in a post on the city’s Facebook page, with thousands taking to Facebook to defend the 82-year-old woman
Meanwhile, one user took a swipe at Reynolds’ lack of remorse for Menefield: “Protect and serve. I’m sure Mike Reynolds wouldn’t mind if his grandmother was arrested for something similar.”
Some members of the community were shocked by the “ridiculous” nature of the arrest and asked the department “which judge would approve it”.
One user wrote: “This is just ridiculous. I keep having to call about picking up garbage on our streets.
“By the way, seniors shouldn’t even have to wheel their rubbish along the street or have to pay for the services. That’s sad.’
Another wrote: “I don’t care what the court decided or which judge signed it, this is just one of those warrants you ignore.
‘Good lord, just pause her service and don’t turn it back on until she’s paid.
“Anyone involved in her arrest is complicit and should be ashamed, and that includes the person who put this press release here.
“In fact, anyone involved in her arrest could have pooled their resources and paid her bill.
“That’s called being a decent person, and since when is an unpaid utility bill handed over to the court?”
While officers have discretionary powers on “certain matters,” the boss argued that executing a warrant signed by a judge “is not one of them.”
“City of Valley Code Enforcement Officers issued a subpoena to Ms. Menefield in August 2022 for failure to pay for garbage services during the months of June, July and August,” the post said.
“Prior to issuing the subpoena, Code Enforcement made several attempts to telephone Ms. Menefield and reach her personally at her place of residence.
When no contact could be made, a door hanger was left in her apartment. The hanger contained information about the reason for the visit and a name and phone number for her to call.’
Some members of the community were shocked by the “ridiculous” nature of the arrest and questioned the department “which judge would sign off on this.”
Menefield, who lived at the Valley home for almost 30 years, was said to have been contacted by police, who said she only made the arrest after she failed to appear in court, which she denies
The quote is said to have alerted Menefield that she was due to appear in court on Sept. 7 regarding the case, but “a warrant for non-payment of the trash was pending when she failed to appear in court,” the post continued.
“According to the Environmental Services, Ms. Menefield has had her garbage services suspended three times in the past two years for non-payment, and records show that there have been over twenty-two incidents of suspensions and withdrawals of service since 2006,” the Post said.
“While our officers have discretion on certain matters, the execution of a court-issued arrest warrant signed by a judge is not one of them.
‘MS. Menefield was treated with respect by our officers in the performance of their duties and has been released on bail as required by the infraction.’
On Thursday, Menefield told KTLA that she never received a summons to appear in court.
She said if her garbage bill hadn’t been paid, her garbage can should have just been taken and her pickup truck abandoned, adding that her arrest was “unjust and unnecessary”.
“I was upset because I didn’t know why they would come and arrest me,” she said.
Menefield, who grew up in West Point, Alabama, and lived in a middle-class family, said her father painted houses and her mother was a cook.
“I had a good family. My mother and father were good people. I didn’t have to worry about anything,” she said.
Menefield was a caretaker for a nursing home and later children and is the mother of one daughter, Neketti Tucker, who lives in Georgia.
Tucker was in Menefield at the time of the interview and said that failure to pay a garbage bill should never be considered a crime.
“It’s not a crime. That’s civilized, if anything,’ she said.
Tucker said since the arrest became public, several people have attempted to pay her mother’s bill, but she claims staff told them they could not.
Menefield said she wasn’t at Valley Jail long after she was released on bail.
“I was in a little cage-like thing at the police station. I said, ‘You all put me in this cage? You should be ashamed.’
Dailymail.com has reached out to Neketti Taylor, Martha Menefield and the Valley City Police Department for comment.