NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A Fishers woman and her daughter are still reeling after police, believing they were driving a stolen car, pulled weapons on them during a traffic stop Tuesday.
Amber Gray said it was a normal afternoon when officers with the Noblesville Police Department pulled her over near her Fishers neighborhood. Amber said she was immediately confused when she looked back to see officers pulling their guns out.
“There are several firearms pointed at my vehicle with my 12-year-old daughter in the car,” she said.
In body camera footage of the incident, released by Noblesville PD on Thursday, officers can be heard asking Amber to put both hands out the window, open the car from the outside and walk backward toward the officers to be put in handcuffs.
“I’m thinking if ‘I move wrong with all these weapons drawn on me, this could be me and my daughter’s last day on earth’,” Amber said.
At the time, Amber said she had no idea what was going on. NPD officers, though, believed they were pulling over a car reported as stolen with a stolen firearm inside.
“Under those set of circumstances, with a stolen vehicle, stolen weapon involved, our first goal is to accomplish control of the scene,” said NPD Lt. Bruce Barnes. “So, what we try to do is methodically, under those circumstances, with it being a high-risk kind of stop, we pull people out of the vehicle, we handcuff them and it’s only then when we can control the scene that we figure out what’s going on.”
Quickly after Amber was handcuffed, Barnes said officers started to realize something was wrong. Barnes said officers believed Amber’s car had been reported stolen through an IMPD police report, but she was the owner of it and hadn’t reported it stolen.
Eventually, officers realized an error had been made somewhere along the way.
“Apparently this was a mistake, is what I’m being told, or a typo,” Amber said.
This is where Ambra Gray comes in, a woman who lives in Indianapolis and reported her car stolen on Monday. Somehow, when giving 911 her information, Ambra’s name was written down wrong.
This, NPD said, led to Amber Gray’s car information being entered in as stolen instead of Ambra’s – an error that wasn’t resolved until after Amber had been pulled over and cuffed the next day.
NPD had called Ambra on Tuesday when Amber’s car had been spotted on Flock cameras in Noblesville. Officers and Ambra both confirmed she was asked if her car was still stolen, which she confirmed to police it was.
Ambra said it wasn’t until after Amber had been put in handcuffs that Noblesville officers called her back and told her the make and model of the car they had pulled over. That, she said, is when the confusion really started.
“When they told me the make and model of the car, I was like, ‘That’s not my car’,” Ambra said.
The problem was determined to be within the original Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department police report. This IMPD report, the one Noblesville PD made the initial traffic stop because of, listed Amber’s car as stolen instead of Ambra’s.
IMPD Lt. Shane Foley said they’re still working to figure out exactly how this happened. Foley added that mix-ups like this are possible when someone calls in to report a stolen vehicle.
“We have somebody look up their vehicle information based upon their name and date of birth,” Foley said. “So, if people have a similar name, date of birth and vehicle description, it could happen where an oversight occurs and the wrong vehicle is identified as the one that’s stolen.”
Ambra Gray and Amber Gray do have similar names, both were born in the same year and both of their cars are Hyundais – but the cars are not the same model, year or color.
Amber said she is now left hoping this doesn’t happen again.
“I don’t understand how this happened and why and what I am supposed to do,” she said.
Foley said IMPD regrets the mistake and that the commander of the IMPD East District called Amber to apologize, as well. He added that the department has made sure the correct information on Ambra’s actual stolen car is now in the system.
As far as this happening again, Foley said officers and control operators are busy which causes mistakes to happen. Still, there are things that he said could improve.
“Just more attention to detail and double-checking that,” Foley said.
On the Noblesville PD side of things, Amber said she wishes more work would have been done before she was pulled over, extra caution had been taken to realize a mistake was made and more empathy had been shown after officers realized what had happened.
Barnes said they did call the number listed on the report, Ambra’s number, and confirmed her car was still stolen. He added that they don’t always have time to do that and they have to act quickly in these situations.
“Oftentimes, in our line of work, things happen suddenly,” Barnes said. “And we don’t have time to do much investigation other than to address what’s before us.”
As for empathy during the stop, Barnes said police understand what Amber went through.
“We don’t want that to happen to anybody,” he added. “When that does happen we feel a sense of responsibility to explain our side of it.”
Ambra Gray’s car, a white 2011 Hyundai Elantra, is still missing. Now that the correct information has been reported, she said she is hopeful police can find it soon.