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Mom says kid unbuckled self, buckled in gas can during traffic stop

6:18 PM, Jun 6, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Controversial gas-can photo explained by driver

An officer with the Aurora Police Department found this child unrestrained in the back seat of a vehicle, while a gas can was securely fastened into the child safety seat. Photo courtesy: Colorado Department of Transportation.

Sandra Ramirez spoke to 9NEWS Wednesday morning about this photo. The Colorado Department of Transportation posted the photo on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

Stacey Stegman, CDOT spokesperson, says the photo was taken by an Aurora traffic officer during a traffic stop as part of the Click It or Ticket enforcement.

Ramirez says the photo is one big misunderstanding.

"It is just a big misunderstanding, and I'm sorry if I offended anybody, but I'm not a bad mom," Ramirez told 9NEWS.

Lieutenant Chuck DeShazer, Commanding Officer of the Aurora Police Department Traffic Sections, told 9NEWS Ramirez was pulled over for conducting an illegal left turn.

"She was not wearing her seat belt, and her approximately 14-year-old passenger in the front seat also wasn't wearing a seat belt," DeShazer said. "The woman told him [the officer,] 'Sorry - we just forgot.'"

Ramirez says while she was pulled over, her son was in the car seat in the back seat. However, while she was speaking to the officer, Ramirez claims her 3-year-old son wiggled out of the car seat and sat in the passenger-side back seat.

DeShazer says the officer continued to question Ramirez about the child in the back seat. He says Ramirez's response to the officer was, "Oh, he unbuckles and buckles his seat belt by himself all the time."

"He unbuckled it," Ramirez told 9NEWS. "He knows how to unbuckle it. I did not notice him until [out of] the corner of my eye as I'm turning. The lights are flashing behind me [and] he jumped over and put on his big-boy belt."

At that point, the teenage family friend in the front seat put the gas can in the car seat. Since the car seat was still buckled in, the gas can appeared to be "buckled" in.

Ramirez admits neither she nor the front-seat passenger were wearing seat belts when the officer pulled her over, but she insists her 3-year-old son was wearing one.

Ramirez is extremely upset by the controversial photo and apologized for the misunderstanding. She told 9NEWS she plans to sell her car and not drive again.

Ramirez was ticketed for the illegal turn, two seat belt violations, and the car seat violation, says DeShazer.

The law in Colorado requires all children younger than 8 years old to be in a child safety seat while traveling in a motor vehicle. The minimum stipulated fine is $82 per violation.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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