Is this a desktop?
1. Buy new HDD.
2. Disconnect old HDD.
3. Install Linux Mint on a new HDD, and after install, connect the old HDD and scrape files off of it.
Bottom line: try and salvage files by accessing the drive from another PC / operating system.
It's no surprise you got pulled over, even with nobody around.
SLO beach cops are thought to be sentient life forms (this claim is widely disputed) which spontaneously materialize from the sand as a defense mechanism against any thing at all which would exceed a land speed of 15 MPH.