INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Santa Claus’s elves were busy on Christmas, doing good deeds for folks all around the metro. One of those elves was wearing an Independence police uniform and badge.
Officer Prince Seiuli has been on the streets with the Independence Police Department for four years.
A theft call on Christmas night to a home on South Willis Avenue ended with a Christmas gift to a young woman in trouble.
“It was a good opportunity for me to show that we don't only put bad guys away, but we also serve the community,” Seiuli said.
A 20-year-old homeless woman, whose mother said is troubled and struggles with drug addiction, took a cab from Kansas City to her mother’s home in Independence to spend Christmas night with her.
But she didn't have money to pay the cab driver, so he called the police.
“I went and knocked on the door. She opens the door and says, 'How can I help you?' I said, 'How can you help me? How can I help you?'" Seiuli recalled.
The Independence officer said the woman made a typical excuse that someone else was supposed to pay for the cab.
“So I gave her some time to try and find somebody to pay her tab. I told her that she would be going to jail if she didn't,” Seiuli said. “She tried to get a hold of friends, and she said, 'No one will pay this fare for me. I don't have the money, and I can't pay him today.'"
When the young woman couldn't come up with the money, that's when Seiuli 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," he said.
Instead of taking the young woman to jail, he paid her cab fare.
"I could have easily took her to jail. That could have been an easy solution,” Seiuli said. “In the back of my mind, I am taking someone to jail, taking her away from her family and the taxi driver loses money. It’s a lose situation for everyone. But me paying for that fare is a win-win situation."
Constance Nunez, the woman’s mother, said she's grateful for the present Sieuli gave her daughter and her family.
“Thank you, it was very kind and made her night. And she's not sitting in jail on Christmas," Nunez said. “It was very nice."
Seiuli said that's just what police officers do -- protect and serve. That night he served the Nunez family, the taxi cab driver and the community.