Celia Sullivan, a 50-year-old mother of two from Utah, enjoys hiking through the Capitol Reef National Park to take photos.

But it ended up getting her arrested on federal charges on the Fourth of July.

All because she tried to record the park ranger who had pulled her over.

Sullivan was charged with “disobeying a lawful order” and “resisting arrest” after she was pulled over by Park Ranger Steven Powers for allegedly failing to “maintain level of traffic.”

Sullivan said Powers, pictured below, was tailgating her for several miles as she was trying to relocate the spot where she had left her tripod earlier that day.


Sullivan described her experience detail in a Facebook note within 48 hours after her experience. She is a longtime Photography is Not a Crime reader. She goes by Pixie in the comments section.

I’ve cut and pasted that note on a PDF to allow everybody to read it (in case her Facebook page is not public).

The PDF note is very lengthy, but I recommend reading it to get the full grasp of her story.

Essentially, she was pulled over for driving too slow. The ranger then ordered her out of the car because he suspected of being under the influence.

And when she didn’t get out of her car fast enough, informing the ranger that she wanted to grab her phone to record the encounter, she was dragged out of the car and handcuffed.

I told PRSP (Park Ranger Steven Powers) that I was going to record him and said just a minute, let me grab my phone. PRSP decided that he didn’t have to be patient with me (like a good cop would), which is when he opened the door to my vehicle without my permission. I remember telling him just a second, I’m grabbing the documents and I grabbed my wallet too. I WAS NOT SCARED AT ALL. I was irritated but had no problem getting out of the vehicle but I was going to protect myself just in case. I had nothing to fear if he was good cop, and the video WOULD protect me if he was a bad cop.

And I remember telling him the video was for MY PROTECTION. I didn’t know what kind of person PRSP was, and he had a taser AND a gun.

I was all alone. Don’t forget that.

PRSP didn’t like the fact I was getting ready to record things because he grabbed my left wrist in an attempt to get me to drop the phone. I then said I can get out the car by myself, and turned and placed my feet on the ground and stood. This is where I complied with BOTH of his direct orders: I was out of the car, and I had my papers with me.

But he didn’t give me a chance to do anything else since he still had a hold of my wrist. With one motion, he twisted my left arm around to my back, and then at the same time saying you are under arrest for disobeying a direct order. I sank to my knees, dropped my papers phone and wallet and said over and over again you’ve got to be kidding, you’ve got to be kidding, are you kidding me.

She remained in handcuffs for 90 minutes before she was finally released.

Here’s the link to the PDF that contains her entire story.