Officer pays cab fare for troubled young woman visiting her mother on Christmas: 'It's what we do'

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A police officer decided there was an alternative to taking someone to jail on Christmas Day.

"It was a good opportunity for me to actually show that, you know, we don't only put bad guys away but we also serve the community," said Officer Prince Seiuli, Independence Police Department.

Officer Seiuli has been on the streets as an officer for four years. A theft call on Christmas at a home on South Willis Avenue in Independence, Missouri became his gift to a young woman in trouble.

"My daughter came over here to get a plate of food. She brought a cab. She didn't have the money to pay the fare -- so the cab driver called the police on her," said Constance Nunez.

Nunez said her 20-year-old daughter is homeless and struggles with drug addiction -- but she made her way to her mom's house on Christmas.

"I went and knocked on the door. She opens the door -- says, 'how can I help you?' I said, 'how can you help me? How can I help you?' She said, 'my brother was supposed to pay for it,' which was the usual. You know, it's always, 'someone else is paying for my cab.' That's why I'm here -- so I give her some time to try to find somebody to, to pay her tab. Told her that she will be going to jail if she did not. She tried to get a hold of friends. She said, 'no one will pay this fare for me. I don't have the money and I can't pay him today,'" said Officer Seiuli.

When the young woman couldn't come up with the money, Officer Seiuli said he had a gut instinct that he needed to do something different in this situation.

"When God puts opportunities in front of you, you just have to take it," said Officer Seiuli.

Instead of taking the woman to jail, Officer Seiuli paid her cab fare.

"I could have easily took her to jail. That could have been an easy solution, but in the back of my mind, I'm taking someone into jail, taken away from her family. The taxi driver loses money. It's a 'lose' situation for everyone, but me paying for that fare, it's a win-win situation," said Officer Seiuli.

"Thank you. That was very kind -- and you made her night -- and she's not sitting in jail on Christmas. It was very nice," said Nunez.

"It's what we do as police officers -- protect and serve, and any way that I can serve someone, will probably do so," said Officer Seiuli.