Family outraged after getting ticket during funeral procession

(WJLA) - Ethel Frye was the matriarch of her family before she passed away earlier this month at the age of 96.

"She definitely was a role model for the family," says her grandson, Ronald Spinner.

But Spinner says his grandmother's emotional send-off last Thursday was tainted by a run-in with the law as the funeral procession traveled down Duke Street.

While heading toward Mount Comfort Cemetery in Alexandria, Spinner’s daughter-in-law, Heather Spinner, saw a police cruiser approaching from behind.

"So my husband braked because we thought he would pass us in pursuit of whoever he was following," said Heather.

The Alexandria City Officer then pulled over her brother-in-law, RG Spinner, who was in the car behind her, for running a red light at Duke and South Walker.

"Before the vehicles ever stopped, the yellow signs were being waved out that clearly said "funeral" in large black print," explained Heather.

She says RG and her husband, both pallbearers, told the officer they were heading to a graveside burial – but the officer wrote RG a ticket anyway.

"Next thing I know I heard a lot of yelling and screaming...They were upset," described Ronald.

The Spinners assumed that being part of a procession made it okay for them to go through a red light, but as it turns out, in the state of Virginia you can only ignore traffic laws if you have a police escort – not a funeral-provided escort like the Spinners had.

The family is now outraged, because they say that the officer took so long to issue the ticket that Heather, her husband RG, and four others missed the burial altogether.

"I know safety is a concern, but sometimes you can have a little sense of decency, understanding, and compassion for the situation," said Ronald.