- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - An Ogden woman sued a Utah Highway Patrol trooper on Wednesday, saying she was hurt when he ripped her from her car during an early-morning stop on a dark side street.

Kara Lynn Castaldo, 29, said in that she was nervous about leaving the car without a clear explanation as she drove home from her bartending job, but she tried to obey the law after Trooper Owen Horne stopped her for having a broken tail light on July 18.

“I was really scared,” she said during a news conference at her attorney’s office. “I didn’t know what was happening.”

Castaldo is seeking at least $100,000 in damages in the federal lawsuit.

Police say that the trooper’s actions were aboveboard. Horne smelled alcohol when Castaldo rolled down her window, and he had to pull her out of her car because she wouldn’t get out, Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Todd Royce said. Allowing her to leave could have put other drivers at risk if she had been drinking, Royce said.

Castaldo said she had a sip of beer shortly before leaving work. Tests later showed she wasn’t drunk.

“If she would have been complaint … she would have been let go,” Royce said. “His actions were in line with what we expect a trooper to do.”

Police dashboard camera video released by lawyer Robert Sykes shows Horne approaching the car and asking Castaldo to get out to discuss the broken tail light several times during an approximately minute-long conversation. When she refuses, citing her rights, he unbuckles her seatbelt and forcibly removes her from the car.

Royce acknowledged that the trooper could have been clearer about why he asked Castaldo to get out of the car, but he said Horne’s actions were reasonable.

She was arrested, jailed and her car was impounded, according to the lawsuit.

Castaldo was cited for motor vehicle lamp violation and interference with arresting officer, though that charge was dismissed, court records show.

Skyes, though, questioned whether the trooper had actually smelled alcohol. “Not everyone who comes out of a bar is drunk,” he said.

Castaldo said she was careful during the stop because she had been stopped by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper in January and jailed for drunken driving even though she wasn’t under the influence. Prosecutors later dropped the case, court records show.

Castaldo said her arm and shoulder were injured during the stop, and she’s hoping her lawsuit prevents something similar from happening to someone else. “I find I’m a lot more paranoid about police officers lately,” she said.

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