Unable to find her car the next day, she reported it stolen. After she found it later, Mestas retracted the report and was told it would be expunged and given a reference number in the event she was stopped over it. As it turned out, the stolen vehicle report was not what she should have been worried about.
The bumpers and many large windows of Mestas’ Toyota 4Runner were displaying slogans not intended to endear her to cops. “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE” was prominently on one side window. Being Hispanic, she had “BROWN PRIDE” on another, with the acronym “ACAB,” meaning “all cops are bastards” on another, and across her rear car window, “FUCK THESE RACIST POLICE.”
Tasked to run an errand to the bank for her work supervisor the next day, Mestas noticed she was being followed by a Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) state highway patrolman. The DPS was out in force during the demonstrations in Austin, the capital of Texas, assisting and supporting the Austin Police Department. (“APD”).
Mestas at first believed the reason for being followed by a DPS cop was her retracted stolen vehicle report. DPS and APD spokespersons would later cite this as the reason for her stop and eventual S.W.A.T. action. The DPS cop’s written report did not align with that narrative. His stated reason, written in his report for initiating the stop, was “the vehicle had anti-law enforcement rhetoric scribble (sic) all over the outside.”
Reporting trooper Garrett Ray, backed up by DPS trooper Jason Melson, stopped Mestas on the First Street Bridge. Having classed this as a “high-risk” (or felony) stop the cops drew weapons, crouched behind their car doors, and ordered her to exit her vehicle while aiming pistols at her. Paralyzed with fear, she kept her hands raised in full sight, afraid to turn down the radio or cut off the ignition lest the cops think she was reaching for a weapon and shoot her.
An hour after the stop, a reporter from The Intercept was at the scene, the news organization reports. He said “at least 40 DPS vehicles” and 80 to 100 cops were on scene. A full S.W.A.T. team, two drones, two armored personnel carriers (“APCs”), and a tracked mechanical unmanned vehicle were also soon deployed. While the two APCs made contact with, then crushed into the SUV’s front and rear, the tracked vehicle smashed a side window as the S.W.A.T. team oversaw the terrified and unarmed Mestas exit her battered SUV and lay on the hot pavement.
She was then questioned by police Detective Bibler (“pronounced like the Bible,” he told her) for an hour. The stolen vehicle report was never mentioned. Bibler asked her about the rioting and looting in Austin, her position on the Black Lives Matter movement, and her opinion on law enforcement, as if the statements on her car were not already indicative of that particular topic.
Her damaged SUV was returned, and she was released after her interrogation was over and reunited with her Chihuahua that had been inside the vehicle. She was not criminally charged nor did she receive an apology.
Her conspicuous views on law enforcement displayed on what was left of her 4Runner has probably not changed for the better, either.
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