DENVER (KDVR) — A mom was accused of human trafficking while on a flight with her daughter to Denver. She shared her story in hopes it changes how quickly someone raises suspicions with police.
On Oct. 22, Mary MacCarthy and her 10-year-old daughter, Moira, took an uneventful Southwest Airlines flight to Denver. So she was caught off guard when she was greeted by police once they stepped off the plane.
The mother and daughter were approached by officers for suspicious behavior reported by a Southwest employee.
“I took out my phone and started recording,” MacCarthy said.
MacCarthy said she told police they flew to Denver to arrange and attend the funeral for her brother, who had suddenly passed.
“He’s like a father to her … I’m a single mother,” MacCarthy said.
According to MacCarthy, police and airline officails never said she was suspected of human trafficking. Minutes later, they would allow the mom and daughter to be on their way.
But days later, MacCarthy got a call from an invesitgator with the Denver Police Department’s human trafficking unit and learned details about Southwest’s and DPD’s versions of the story.
She said both of the reports were full of untruths.
MacCarthy said Southwest lied when they claimed she didn’t allow Moira to speak with flight attendants. She also claims DPD lied when they reported MacCarthy didn’t want to share any information.
“But I have a three-minute video in which I pretty much tell them my life story,” she said.
MacCarthy said she appreciates the effort to follow up on human trafficking suspicions but said racial profiling in this case led her black daughter to deal with unnecessary trauma.
“I would tell anyone: stop and think before you call the police. Go and have a conversation with the person. If they had done that, they would have seen how nice and friendly we are,” she said.
Southwest released the following statement:
We were disheartened to learn of this mother’s account when traveling with her daughter. We are conducting a review of the situation internally, and we will be reaching out to the Customer to address her concerns and offer our apologies for her experience traveling with us. Our Employees undergo robust training on Human Trafficking. Above all, Southwest Airlines prides itself on providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for the millions of Customers who travel with us each year.Southwest Airlines
The Denver Police Department also released this statement:
Procedurally, officers assigned to the airport responded to the gate based on a report from airline personnel, and the responding officers documented the information provided by airline personnel and Ms. MacCarthy during the contact in a ‘Letter to Detective’ — a process for documenting information for an incident that doesn’t appear to rise to the level of a crime. The Letter to Detective was forwarded to a human trafficking detective for follow up based on the nature of the original report by airline personnel, the detective later called Ms. MacCarthy and the Letter to Detective was subsequently closed as ‘unfounded.’Denver Police Department