National News

May 3, 2013

Video shows Reese Witherspoon’s arrest in Atlanta

ATLANTA — A dash-cam video of Reese Witherspoon’s recent disorderly-conduct arrest provides a rare glimpse of one of Hollywood’s best-known actresses unfiltered as she, after “one too many” glasses of wine, takes on a no-nonsense Georgia state trooper following her husband’s traffic stop.

In video of the April 19 early-morning incident in Atlanta, posted Thursday by the website TMZ, the 37-year-old actress seeks to intercede as her husband is being administered a field sobriety test by the trooper.

Trooper First Class J. Pyland tells Witherspoon to stay in the couple’s vehicle no fewer than five times. For her part, Witherspoon is equally determined to get out and engage him, even at one point feigning to be pregnant and saying she needs to use the bathroom.

When the trooper starts to arrest her, she lets loose. The 5-foot-1 Witherspoon turns to yell at him while being handcuffed and accuses the trooper of harassment, at one point prompting him to warn her, “You fight me, I promise you ...”

Witherspoon’s husband, Hollywood agent Jim Toth, mostly observes the exchange, but tries to calm her after the trooper’s warning about resisting arrest.

TMZ posted the video from the trooper’s vehicle hours after Witherspoon appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to apologize for her behavior.

In her first sit-down interview about the arrest, the Oscar-winning actress and mother of three said she had “one too many” glasses of wine, and panicked after she and her husband were pulled over.

“I have no idea what I was saying that night,” she said. “I literally panicked. I said all kinds of crazy things. I told them I was pregnant. I’m not pregnant.”

The police report states Witherspoon asked the trooper, “Do you know my name?” and added, “You’re about to find out who I am.”

The dash-com video shows the situation quickly escalating. In one video clip, the trooper appears to be examining Toth when Witherspoon, out of view, starts to get out of her vehicle.

“Ma’am, get back in that car,” the trooper tells her.

She apologizes, and asks if she can say something. “No ma’am,” he says, “get back in that car. I’m not going to repeat myself again.”

Later, when Witherspoon continues to try to intervene, the trooper handcuffs her.

“You better not arrest me! Are you kidding me?” she asks.

“Nope,” he responds.

She protests again, “I’m an American citizen!” The trooper leans toward her and says he told her to stay in the car.

She repeats “This is beyond!” She turns to yell at the trooper as he’s handcuffing her and he raises his chin and warns her against resisting arrest.

As Witherspoon is taken out of view, she can be heard asking, “Do you know my name sir?” When he says he doesn’t need to, she asks, “You don’t need to know my name?” He says “Not quite yet,” and she adds, “Oh really. OK, you’re about to find out who I am.”

The trooper responds, “That’s fine. I’m not real worried about you, ma’am. I done told you how things worked. You want to get out and get up in my investigation, that’s OK.”

As the trooper returns to Toth, he tells him, “I tried”

Toth says “I’m sorry,” and the trooper adds, “I absolutely 100 percent tried.”

Toth then tries to put some distance between him and his wife’s outburst.

“I had nothing to do with that,” Toth tells the trooper.

“I know,” he responds.

Toth was charged with drunken driving and is due in court May 23. Witherspoon faces a May 22 court hearing on the disorderly conduct charge.

Shortly after her jail release, the star of hit movies such as “Walk The Line,” “Legally Blonde,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Election” issued a statement saying there was “no excuse” for her behavior.

“I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. The words I used that night definitely do not reflect who I am. I have nothing but respect for the police and I am very sorry for my behavior.”

Two lawyers for Witherspoon, one in Los Angeles and one in Atlanta, did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday.

“There are so many lessons learned,” she told ABC on Thursday.

“When a police officer tells you to stay in the car, you stay in the car,” she said. “I learned that for sure. I learned a lot.”

 

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