HAYWARD (KTVU) -- A routine traffic stop in Hayward turned into an unexpected surprise.
Officer Jonathan Mcleod could have towed the car. But what he did instead for a mother and her two children went above the call of duty.
Mcleod, 26, stops cars with expired tags all the time.
But when he pulled over a woman and her two kids last week, he realized this situation was different
"I could tell they had either been living in the vehicle, or they go from place to place in the vehicle," Mcleod said.
The woman stopped in the parking lot of the McDonald's on A Street near Interstate 880.
"She gave me her license and she told me, 'Hey, my license is suspended right now. This is all I have, me and my children. We go from to to shelter to shelter.' "
He could have towed her car.
But instead, he asked her a simple question.
"I asked her if the kids had eaten or anything, and she said no," Mcleod said. Motioning to McDonald's, the officer added, "That's when I said, 'Hey we're already here, let's go inside and get you something to eat.' "
A man took a picture of the woman and her two kids ordering food at the restaurant. Mcleod said he stood back a few feet because he didn't want her to feel embarrassed.
The man offered the officer some money to split the bill, but Mcleod declined, paid with his ATM card and quickly left without giving the woman a ticket. KTVU asked if he told anyone about what he did for this woman.
"No not at all," Mcleod said with a laugh. "Not at all. I mean, it's something I just wanted to keep it to myself."
But the man who took the photo alerted the Hayward police. Officer Mcleod says he hopes his gesture of goodwill gives people another perspective on law enforcement officers.
"Each person I make contact with, I at least want to leave them with the impression - 'Wow, that officer with Hayward PD, Officer Mcleod, he was a great guy."
Hayward police Sgt. Ryan Cantrell said, "The impact that one encounter has, that one moment that Officer Mcleod had with that lady is going to resonate for the rest of her life and her children, too."
At the McDonald's KTVU met up with Martina Lawson-Hines, who is also homeless and stays in her car. We told her about what Mcleod did.
"Oh my gosh, It's so inspirational. Being someone who is currently homeless myself, hearing something like this inspires me to just keep going. It means that there are some good police officers out there."