Dr. Marcia Bowden and her husband, Ira Marche, are to be in court on Sept. 16 to answer charges related to a Southaven, Miss. traffic stop that degenerated into an experience – including jail – that the Memphis doctor says has left her “completely undone.”
Bowden told The New Tri-State Defender (TSD) on Friday that she had not been at work for the last couple of days since the Labor Day incident. “I just had to cancel my patients for the rest of the week. I just couldn’t concentrate.”
The encounter began about 4 p.m. on Sept. 7 on Church Rd. in Southaven. The TSD has been in pursuit of the Southaven Police Department’s account of the incident since learning of it on Wednesday evening.
On Friday (Sept. 11), The TSD received an email from the Southaven Police Department regarding the arrest of Bowden and Marche. The email explained the process for requesting and receiving arrest records, along with a request form, which the TSD faxed back to Southaven Police Friday afternoon. When asked how fast such requests are turned around, a reporter was informed that all such requests must be approved by Southaven Police Chief Tom Long.
The TSD reached out to Chief Long and Deputy Chief Steve Pirtle several times on Friday. A spokesperson said Long and several senior police administrators were out of the office attending the funeral of a fellow police officer who recently died of cancer.
Later Friday afternoon, contact was made with Deputy Chief Pirtle, who declined to comment specifically on the case. Pirtle said a request for the police report must be reviewed and approved by the city attorney before it could be released to the TSD. That review is expected next week.
In an account the TSD published Thursday, Dr. Bowden, a 2008 TSD Women of Excellence honoree, said she and her husband were traveling along Church Rd. in his Jaguar when a motorcycle officer pulled them over. Marche was driving and he was speeding, Bowden said in her written account to the TSD.
What happened next will likely be contested. From Bowden’s account, neither she nor her husband had their licenses readily available. Dr. Bowden said the couple had been out to an event the night before and her husband’s license was in his tuxedo jacket. Dr. Bowden said she thought her license was in the purse she was carrying but she still has not found it.
According to Bowden, the exchanges that ensued after they were pulled over, particularly with a second officer called to the scene, had her fearful.
“I looked out of the door (and) Officer Delany had his hand on the trigger of his revolver and had it lifted in the holster on his right hip,” her account to the TSD read. “I was terrified that he would shoot my husband in the back. ‘I said officers don’t shoot us, we are law abiding citizens….PLEASE, you do not have to take your gun out, I am afraid.’”
Bowden, who has Asthma, was treated at a hospital while in police custody after complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath. Later she was jailed and released.
“I was charged with failure to obey (an officer) and disturbing the peace,” said Bowden on Friday. The charges against her husband involve the use of profane language, she said.
Marche on Saturday afternoon said he was charged with disorderly conduct and speeding. He was not charged with driving without a license.
On Monday, Bowden and Marche are scheduled meet with an attorney in preparation for the court appearance.
“I know this is what happens to our people every single day. To hear about it is so very different from experiencing it,” she said during Friday’s conversation with the TSD.
“It puts me in a place that I can hardly tolerate. I remember my father telling me a story about his father – and this would be in the 1940s – who was accused of something and the sheriff just burst into their house without any warrant, without any kind of information and searched their home when he was a 4-year-old kid.
Bowden said her father was in his 70s when he was telling her the story.
“His heartbreak was palpable. They put his father on the chain gang. …I would look at the look on his face and I was sympathetic, but empathy is a different thing.
“It was such a different day in that time,” said Bowden, “but the situation is exactly the same. We haven’t made any progress in our nation. I love America; I love being an American. But what is happening in our country, we’ve got to address!”
Marche on Saturday said he and his wife are appreciative and humbled by an outpouring of community support.