Child neglect charges dropped for Jacksonville woman

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- When Betty Brunson was arrested she argued that she was the victim of an overzealous police officer.

"He was going on his emotions," she said. "His sergeant advised him to arrest me."

On July 23, Brunson had five children, including her own daughter, in her Dodge Charger when she stopped at the Office Depot on Dunn Avenue.

Brunson, who considers herself a loving, compassionate parent, left the children in the vehicle while she went into the store to copy her resume.

"My intent was not to willingly neglect any kids," she said.

It was 92 degree weather; and while the windows were rolled down and the children were safe, when police arrived she was arrested on charges of child neglect.

"I'm not trying to portray I didn't do anything," she said. "I just feel it was a mistake and everyone makes mistakes."

On August 21, after reviewing the evidence, the state's attorney's office declined to prosecute and dropped the charges.

"I was jumping up and down. I was like 'part of it is over,'" she said.

Brunson does not justify her decision, but has always said her case deserved a citation, which the law allows, and not an arrest.

"I probably would have grabbed a basket and loaded everyone up while I make a copy of my resume whether it was three minutes or four minutes," she said. If she had to do it again, she said she would do it differently.

She is the parent of a child with Down Syndrome. Brunson said she's afraid that the arrest record will hamper her efforts to work around children, including volunteering at her child's school.

"I don't want that mark left on me," she said.

Brunson said she's now trying to get her life in order she wants to be a volunteer at her child's school and she wants to be an advocate for anyone with down syndrome.

"I am working on a support group, a project," she said.

The charges have been dropped and now she's working to seal or expunge the arrest record.


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