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Mother Shares Story of Being Wrestled to Ground by Police, Accused of Child Abuse After Letting 11-Year-Old Son Drive Golf Cart Two Blocks

"I've never been that scared of anything in my life."

Image source: Charlotte Observer

A North Carolina mother of two had a frightening run-in with police during what was supposed to be a luxurious family vacation. Julie Mall, 43, of Charlotte, was only two days into the July trip to Bald Head Island when a police officer pulled her family over as they were heading back to their $1,000-a-night cottage.

Mall had told her then-11-year-old son that he could shuttle the family back in their golf cart. The officer who pulled the family over accused Mall of being intoxicated at the time the incident occurred. She now faces charges of child abuse.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Mall and her family had been vacationing in Bald Head for years. The island replaces cars with golf carts.

Image source: Charlotte Observer

Mall explained to the Observer that shortly after she had agreed to let her son to drive the short two blocks back to their cottage, a police cart approached with its lights flashing. Mall's husband Scott, their 11-year-old son Josh and 9-year-old daughter Erin, her 22-year-old niece Stephanie and her dog Rocket were all piled into the family cart.

“Immediately he started berating us,” Mall told the Observer.

“He was saying, 'How old is this kid?' 'Are you guys drunk?' 'I could write you up for child abuse,’” she recalled.

Mall's niece, who was in the rear seat of the golf cart at the time they were approached, told the Observer that the officer seemed hostile from the start.

“I thought maybe he was having a bad day. He was agitated. He was yelling, making vigorous hand gestures, leaning into the golf cart,” Stephanie Phelps said.

Mall maintains that she had no more than a glass of wine with dinner hours before the confrontation and that no one in the golf cart was intoxicated. After the officer threatened to write Mall up for abuse, 11-year-old Josh began crying. She then asked her niece to take the kids back to the cottage.

Once the kids were gone, Mall said she told the officer, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” and stuck her finger in his face.

According to Mall, the officer didn’t have a citation book with him at the time, so he radioed for another officer to bring him one. A second police cart arrived shortly after, followed by a third.

She told the Observer that she was standing off the roadway at the time, tapping away on her phone, when the original officer came over and told her she was blocking traffic and needed to return to her golf cart, which her niece had already taken home.

The police vehicles also had the road blocked at the time.

“He said, 'You need to go back to your golf cart, or I'm going to cuff you,’” Mall claimed.

Image source: Charlotte Observer

After this, the situation quickly escalated into violence.

“He lunged across at me, twisting my arm behind my back. I'm hysterical. I've never been that scared of anything in my life,” Mall said.

Mall’s husband, who was in disbelief, told the Observer his instinct was to film what was happening to his wife because he felt "this wasn’t an up-and-up situation."

After officers cuffed a kicking and screaming Mall at the arms and legs, they took her to the police station, where she was charged with resisting a public officer, intoxicated and disruptive behavior and misdemeanor child abuse.

According to the Observer, the official police report stated that both Julie Hall and Scott Hall were intoxicated when their cart was pulled over after the first officer noticed an underage driver operating the vehicle.

Julie Mall was ‘”agitated and loud, standing in the middle of the street and interfering with passing vehicular and pedestrian traffic,” according to the report.

The arresting officer claimed Mall refused to move off the road, and so he moved to arrest her.

“In attempting to secure the custody of the female, same dropped to the ground and began screaming and flailing around, refusing to surrender her hands or obey officer commands,” the report stated.

Bald Head Village Attorney Charles Baldwin told the Observer that the village declined to comment on the specifics of the case in light of potential further legal action. He did, however, say that Bald Head supports how its officers handled the situation.

“Officers on scene acted appropriately and in their best judgment for the safety of the child and also of the adults involved,” he told the Observer in a statement.

Mall was summoned to court twice for the incident — in August and October — but the charges against her were dropped when the arresting officer failed to show up for both court dates.

The Observer noted that charges could be reinstated by the district attorney’s office up to two years after the offense, according to North Carolina law.

Mall told the outlet she is worried that the charges might affect her charity work and volunteering at her children's school, where regular background checks are performed.

But more than anything, Mall fears that if she doesn’t speak up, the incident might be repeated.

“I just want it on the record,” she said, “in case it happens to someone else.”

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