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Meridian police chief, mayor respond to Labrador's decision to drop charges against woman arrested at park

Idaho Attorney General Labrador moved to dismiss trespassing charges in the case against Sara Brady, a Meridian woman who went to a closed playground in April 2020.
Credit: AP
FILE - Idaho Attorney General candidate Rep. Raul Labrador delivers his acceptance speech during the Idaho Republican Party 2022 General Election Night Celebration in Boise, Idaho, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Idaho will add a new position of solicitor general to challenge federal government actions and policies when Labrador becomes the state's new attorney general in early January. Labrador on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, announced two staff positions to be filled by former members of President Donald Trump's administration. (AP Photo/Kyle Green, File)

BOISE, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

New Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador moved to dismiss trespassing charges in the case against Sara Brady, a Meridian woman who went to a closed playground in April 2020 and asked police to arrest her.

Brady was one of several parents who took their children to a playground at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park, which had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brady and others argued with Meridian police officers about the constitutionality of the decision. Brady then turned, put her arms behind her back and asked the officer to arrest her.

“This case should have never been prosecuted. It has been a profound waste of precious taxpayer resources,” Labrador said. “Going forward, we will focus the people’s resources on prosecuting child exploiters and other serious criminals—not mothers who take their kids to the park.”

In a statement, Meridian Mayor Robert Simison said the decision to dismiss the case was “appalling” and “a slap in the face” to the Meridian police, public servants and law-abiding citizens.

“The Attorney General’s apparent philosophy to selectively dismiss cases of his choosing and endorse illegal behavior is abhorrent,” Simison said. “These actions are distressing and Attorney General Labrador’s decision today is a breach of his oath of office to uphold the rule of law.”

Simison wrote he was concerned for what the future holds.

Meridian Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea said in a statement that conversations with the Attorney General’s Office as late as Dec. 30 indicated the case would move forward.

“The question we have is, what changed since Friday?” Basterrechea said. “We certainly hope this is not the type of political grandstanding we should expect coming out of the Attorney General’s Office moving forward. We are supposed to be a nation ruled by law, not a nation ruled by politics.”

The state “does not condone Brady’s belligerence with law enforcement,” according to the motion to dismiss. However, the motion said the “unwarranted belligerence” was not part of the charge against her.

Brady did not immediately return a request for comment. She has previously expressed her frustration with the case on social media. She also said she has spent thousands of dollars defending herself.

“Defending myself against the State of Idaho who has unlimited resources to prosecute me has been nothing short of a daunting task. Simply for taking my kids to a park,” Brady wrote on Facebook in September.

Later on the day of the arrest, the Idaho Freedom Foundation organized a protest in front of Meridian City Hall. About 100 people attended, according to KTVB.

Tensions were high at the time nationally and in the Gem State. A few days before Brady was arrested, a protest against Gov. Brad Little’s stay-at-home order drew hundreds of people.

In moving to dismiss the charges, Labrador is distinguishing himself from former attorney general Lawrence Wasden, who in 2020 defended Little’s authority to issue a stay-at-home order.

The arrest also set off protests in front of the home of the Meridian officer who made the arrest, which Simison also condemned in his statement.

Brady supported Labrador during his campaign. In a Facebook post in August, she wrote he was her “favorite soon-to-be Attorney General.” She wore a red dress promoting Labrador to the Idaho GOP election night party in November. She did not donate to his campaign, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Other politicians have expressed their support for Brady. In 2020, then-Rep. Dorothy Moon said it was ridiculous to spend taxpayer dollars to put Brady in jail. Moon is now the chair of the Idaho Republican Party.

“I’m pleading with you governor, please, the lady in the park, get the AG's office off of her back,” Moon said in 2020.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.

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