Sunday, October 10, 2010

Top this, Texas cops!

Texas and Arizona routinely compete for the Douchebag Cop of the Year Award, and via CrimProf Blog we find the Grand Canyon State's 2010 submission in this YouTube video, in which an officer repeatedly threatens a pastor, with gun drawn, because he won't answer personal questions at a traffic stop over a burned out license plate bulb. At one point an officer says things may get "deadly" if the driver doesn't comply. ("The main action of the video is between minutes 0:00-4:00 and 10:50-15:35. The death threat is found around 2:10-2:30.") Finally the driver gets out after police threaten to break his window with a baton and taze him. He's put in handcuffs and taken to a police car where they hide behind an open door so the passenger recording the incident can't get a clear shot of what's going on.

My favorite part is the passengers' reaction. They know their rights and refuse to show their ID or get out of the car, even when the officer lies to them about bringing in a drug dog and threatens them with arrest for the made-up charge of "obstructing governmental operations." At the end of the video, the pastor is given a ticket for the burned out license plate bulb, is released, and upon getting back in the car to leave says to the man with the video, "Another day at the office."

The only thing I'd suggest that might improve on how the driver handled the situation - though it's much easier advice to give from afar than to implement in the moment - is he shouldn't have become upset and raised his voice. Better to take your cue from Bartleby the Scrivener and calmly answer, "I prefer not to."

Texas cops, your move! Since in the Lone Star State it would have been legal to arrest the driver over the burnt out bulb (after Atwater v. City of Lago Vista), I'll bet somebody out there can top it.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh man, you know better than to challenge them like that. They'll do it.

Anonymous said...

Your leader topped it all when he jumped up and down with joy after his client hacked his wife's head off. Good ole Barry Scheck, director of the Innocence Project.

Barry knew for a 100% fact that OJ was guilty but he couldn't wait to rush up and hug him after he got him off. Since then, Barry has claimed that a bunch more are innocent and probably some are. But, when Barry says "he's innocent" I have to wonder. It seems that the goal is to get them off and back in the community regardless of the facts.

Anonymous said...

Grits, nice gratuitous, cheap shot at the thousands of honest Texas law enforcement officers who are doing their best to follow the rules and who protect us on a daily basis. You're pretty pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Is that where the term "hug-a-thug" came from?

Anonymous said...

Barry Scheck co-founded the Innocence Project in 1992 with Peter Neufeld, also his co-counsel on the O.J. Simpson defense team. Both are far left radicals reared in New York City and both are now at Yeshiva University in New York. They lecture at Berkeley at times but I'm sure they have an understanding of people in Fly Over country (middle America).

Gritsforbreakfast said...

12:45, I actually agree with your point to a certain extent. OTOH, at least I'm not too big a coward to sign my name to my opinions.

12:43/2:37, OJ Simpson was a long time ago; this happened this week. Maybe y'all ought to find some new material.

Anonymous said...

Jesus, you cops need to learn to take a joke. Grits is taking nominations for "Douchebag Cop of the Year." That doesn't mean all cops are douchebags, but SOMEBODY's got to be the biggest one!

Anonymous said...

Never pass up an opportunity to take a cheap shot at the police or prosecutors.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

3:43, this goes on every day. The difference is usually a) average people don't have the guts to stand up for their rights and b) it's not recorded on video.

Do all cops behave this way? No. But it's common enough to where the public benefits from watching someone stand up to a bunch of bullies, regardless of whether they're wearing uniforms.

Anonymous said...

Actually, as a matter of Fourth Amendment law, the police were correct and the driver (who, incidentally, seems to be some sort of strange gay-basher according to the Youtube comments) was wrong.

When the police have lawfully stopped a car for a traffic infraction -- here, the burned out license plate bulb -- they may order the driver out of the car to produce identification. No further justification is needed.

See Pennsylvania v Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977). http://supreme.justia.com/us/434/106/case.html

The same rule applies to passengers. See Maryland v Wilson, 519 U.S. 408 (1997).

The police were therefore acting lawfully when they asked this driver to step out of the car, and he was being needlessly hostile in refusing.

A little bit of law goes a long way, even for bloggers -- you should try it out.

Jason said...

The driver is being a bit of a malcontent for no real reason that I can tell. He may be right in his legal rights, but it appears he was pulled over for a legit reason.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Jason, he may have been pulled over for a legit reason, but he sure wasn't threatened or handcuffed for a legit reason!

Anonymous said...

Yes, they CAN legally order them out of the vehicle.

Anonymous said...

Because of their arrogance, lack of ability to communicate with the public and general stupidity, law enforcement folks simply are not respected in Texas. Their fault...not the publics.

Lucas L said...

@Anon 4:45- The driver was ordered out of the car after he lawfully declined to answer the Officers question(s), "where you folks headed from - headed to?"

He then legally (in AZ) declined to provide ID for the passengers, reminding the Officer that he had already given him his DL.

Faced with an uncooperative Citizen who was exercising his rights the Officer became irate and THEN ordered him out of the car.

Did the driver feel bullied? I don't know, but it must have been pretty intimidating to see the weapon drawn and be verbally threatened.

Is this representative of how all Officers act? Of course not. Should Citizens know and insist on the observance of their rights? Yes they should.

Anonymous said...

Most citizens don't want to confront officers/bad officers for fear of what they can do to them....further harrasment of them and family, close observance of theor homes, family...some officers should be in jail.

Anonymous said...

Why do people act the way this driver did? If he would have simply been polite and answered the officers questions and beem cooperative, he would have recieved a warning and been gone in 5minutes. I have delt with people like this. People who act this way are the first to call the police when they need help or criticize the police for not doing a complete investigation. When an officer walks up on a vehicle at night his/her life is already in danger, he cannot see inside the vehicle, nor does he/she know who is in the vehicle?

Notice the driver did not lower his window more than an inch or two. This gives an officer reasonable suspicion to detain the driver further, is he hiding the odor of alcohol on his breath, odor of drugs in the vehicle? Is he acting this way due to mental issues? These are things that require further investigation, if he had been intoxicated and an officer let him go only to get in a car accident later there would be public outrage.

The officer was just doing his job, the driver was lawfully stopped, he is required to show his ID and is required to exit the vehicle when asked. There is tons of case law requiring this. Just think if officers could not ask a person to exit the vehicle how would they conduct sobriety test?

The passengers in a vehicle are also required to identify themselves and also have to exit the vehicle see Maryland v Wilson.

I always love how people treat the police like idiots or untrained Gestopo. The vast majority of officers are just doing a professional, stressfull, dangerous job that the public does not appreciate. Do a ride out with your local law enforcement and see if you could take it. I had a gentleman ride with who later told me there was no way and HELL he could do my job. He changed his college major from CJ to politcal science.

Did this officer do everything right? No, he could have done somethings differently but given the situation, he did not escalate it. The driver did.

Second Generation Police Officer!

Chris H said...

My favorite part was the officer talking about bringing the drug dogs out. If the dog will alert on a person being in the vehicle, and the officer admits to this knowledge, then he lacks probable cause to have suspicion that there are drugs in the vehicle when the dog alerts.

Jackie said...

Anon 9:53 "Most citizens don't want to confront officers/bad officers for fear of what they can do to them....further harrasment of them and family, close observance of theor homes, family.."

My child and I were targeted for years, and it nearly cost my son his life. It's called vigilante gang stalking and even though I complained to everyone, not one person would do a thing. Not even my child's doctors who should have known how sick my child was. I guess there isn't a pill to prescribe for injustice and criminal behavior by those who are paid by us to protect us.

http://www.jackiebuffalo.com/whitebuffalo/driveway/driveway.html

http://www.jackiebuffalo.com/index2copy.html

Don said...

The fact, and it is a fact, that most officers are just trying to do their job, does not excuse police bullying and overstepping. All you are required to do is identify. If you hand the cop your license, you have identified. I agree that there is no reason to get irate and shout, and it doesn't help, but we definitely need to know our rights, and exercise them. Example: I was sitting in my car at a roadside park outside my town, as I had been doing almost every morning for about 3 years. Reading the paper, drinking coffee, listening to the radio. Leaned back, almost asleep. A STATE TROOPER, no less, tapped on my window, and commenced to give me the third degree. No probable cause, no reasonable suspicion, no nothing. (If it matters, I am 66, white, male, clean shaven, no tats, good car, had all my clothes on). Went along with him for a few questions, then decided enough was enough. Gave him DL, told him to go back to his car and run a check on it, bring it back, and then I was finished with this conversation. He did, came back clear, he brought it back and threw it at me, said "good day" rather rudely, and left. He was clearly angry only because I knew my rights. I realize that the cops on here are going to do the "well, he was probably trying to solve a crime, looking for someone of my description, or whatever". Ok. This guy's behavior was inexcusable. And we should not be defending behavior like this on the premise that "most" cops are "good" cops.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:35

So, essentially you're saying that so long as people completely submit to whatever you as a police officer want, then you have no problem with them. But, if the citizen somehow tries to assert any form of his rights (i.e., I don't want to get out of my car, I don't want to answer your questions) then that's when you fall back onto the good old police cliche of feeling that your safety is somehow being threatened. This in turn gives you carte blanche to draw your baton, taser, gun, and handcuff a guy for having a burned out license plate bulb. Hell, let's cut out the BS and allow cops to approach pulled over cars with weapons draw and aimed at all times. That would seem to ensure police safety 100% of the time.

"Notice the driver did not lower his window more than an inch or two. This gives an officer reasonable suspicion to detain the driver further, is he hiding the odor of alcohol on his breath, odor of drugs in the vehicle?"

No, this does not give you RS anymore than you would get RS from the fact that the car being driven is clean or dirty or the driver is wearing a hat or that they are a young male and the car they are driving isn't a sporty enough model for someone that age. In context, any of those could be a factor addind up in the totality of the circumstances to give RS. Alone, none would stand up. Ergo, the idea that a burned out light bulb and a window rolled down only three inches somehow gives you RS to believe that a crime has recently, is currently, or will soon be committed is flabergasting, particullarly for someone who should be trained in the area. To make the leap from a partially rolled down window to a possible DUI/drug possession makes about as much sense as saying the driver is a pastor so this is a possible child molestation/larceny from the church investigation.

R. Shackleford said...

I love reading all the anon comments blindly supporting leos, no matter how illegally and disrespectfully they behave. You guys are the reason we have so many douchebag cops with tiny little peepees strutting around playing big man on campus. Remember folks, the cops work for YOU. Would you retain an employee in your family business who treated people this way? Hell no. That sombitch would be hanging out at the local day labor depot with the other unemployable skels in short order. I applaud this pastor.

Don said...

Anon: 11:25---Great Post! Problem is, a lot of citizens don't see anything wrong with the way these (few) cops act, and chant the mantra:"Well, if you're not doing anything wrong, why do you mind answering personal questions, submitting to alcohol/drug tests, searches, etc. whether or not they have PC or RS. This kind of thinking has already shredded our 4th Amendment Constitutional Rights. Several other Amendments are on their way out, and it will only get worse if people don't start standing up and defending their rights, just because they ARE their rights! To 11:35: "Just think if officers could not ask a person to exit the vehicle how would they conduct sobriety test?" Holy Cow! You don't have a "right" to force someone to undergo a field sobriety test, either. I can refuse that just like I can refuse to answer questions that are none of your business. Also, I think any law that requires you to exit your vehicle if "ordered" to also require some RS, of DWI or concerns about officer safety. Not just because you want me to. As a 2nd generation police officer, is it possible that you have convinced yourself that you derive your authority from someplace higher than the law of the land? Just askin'.

Anonymous said...

What I have never understood is why anyone would expect a citizen to be happy, gracious and pleasant (other than for self survival) when you are being screwed with by a cop. I'm SUPPOSED to be polite when I'm getting jerked around by someone trying to please their sergeant by filling out a few more citations to increase the monthly stats? Where they stop anyone they want during a weekly blitz in pursuit of wants and warrants? Sorry but I don't buy it.

Cop is courteous, limits his intrusive conduct to the action at hand and remembers to also "enforce" the laws related to my civil rights, they get the respect they deserve. Otherwise, may they enjoy their 15 seconds (or 10 minutes) of fame on youtube. And with a little luck in front of a disciplinary board (but I doubt that). :~)

Anonymous said...

I still think TASER old lady constable and, "it's only a dog." cop are worse. Hurray Texas!

Anonymous said...

I am a pastor, not a cop. The cop started out polite, and the pastor was rude from the gitgo. That does not excuse the comment that the cop made about "getting deadly fast." However, Scott, you might do well to do some ride alongs with the DPS. Maybe watch a few of their training flicks about traffic stops gone wrong. Walking up on a vehicle in the dark is an extremely dangerous thing. The cop had every right to ask the driver to step out of the vehicle. He told the man the reason - safety. After seeing a few of those videos of officers being ambushed at roadside, I have a whole new respect for the work they do. Really, ask for some ride alongs and ask to see some of their training flicks. Jack Chase

Anonymous said...

The cop was polite from the beginning. What more can you ask for. He has a job to do and is tasked with that job by the you the public. The pastor went out of his way to be rude and challenge the officer.

There is an old saying in law enforcement. If you act like a jail house lawyer you can't complain if your treated like a criminal.

The officer was within the law to ask for the driver to exit the vehicle and to identify the passengers.

The officer did over react at times and he does look fairly young, but he did not start this situation the Pastor Did.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but the cop escalated the stop when the pastor told him it wasn't any of his business where he was going. Then he immediately became rude - "You keep your mouth shut." Producing ID as a passenger is NOT required. Simply identifying yourself meets the standard until the state determines we'll have internal passports - which AZ and this cop seems to prefer. Then he asks if there are any weapons in the car and when told no one has to answer that question, he lies and then forces the pastor out of the car for enforcing his civil rights. Yeah, the pastor is wrong about not getting out of the car but the cop is solely doing it to jerk around the pastor.

For those who think it is about officer safety instead of officer respect, please notice they leave two in the car - and walk away from it even turning their back to the camera - while jerking the pastor around. Safety? They wait 10 minutes before they ask the passengers to get out of the car - at least one of which then sits back down after a minute with no one raising the issue again until the want to search.

What's really entertaining is how often I or friends have been stopped and the officers want me to STAY IN THE CAR to keep better control of myself and everyone else.

As for the dog, they will NOT have a record of either false positives or false negatives (generally determined in practice) for the dogs "hits" in the past but will claim probable cause if the dog hits on the pastor's car. Lat I understood, only bomb dogs have records kept on their track record.

Oh, the bogus reason for the stop? The light was a pretext to pull over to see if the car was running drugs or illegal aliens. It not a light blub it'll be an illegal lane change or failure to use a turn signal.

Is policing dangerous? Sure but not nearly as dangerous as a commercial fisherman, logger or pilot's job. Not even close. And I've done both the first and last ones of the four. :~)

Hugh Jim said...

I think they are both douchebags. Obviously the cop does not have enough experience or intelligence to figure out how to deal with a person like this without resorting to the threat of deadly force. If this is the best he can do he probably needs to find a new line of work.

Anonymous said...

Six SAPD cops tased mentally-ill citizen Pierre Abernathy to death on his momma’s front lawn on August 4, 2011 BUT San Antonio, Texas Police Chief McManus says “Trust Me” and vows a transparent, open investigation.

NOT !

McManus conspires with corrupt City of San Antonio, TX officials to hide three decades of public/police corruption and a six year criminal cover-up financed with tax dollars.


http://forum.anon210.com/showthread.php?tid=19 – Operation Southern Thunder …….

http://www.kens5.com/video/yahoo-video/Man-dead-after-rumble-with-San-Antonio-police-126760813.html

Anonymous said...

ha ha. Police are humans just like us each man accountable for his own wrongs. The difference is that police are required to know and respect civil rights, citizens are not therefore officers are expect to have thicker skin that citizens. Many do to though here in texas, but i recently encountered a situation where a crime was reported on me that i didnt do. By a person who didnt know what had taken place when they called and gave my plate i guess. i was pulled over i near my house in another not just city but county follow several miles, and pulled over. I prompty pulled over and when the officer walked up to my vehicle i had id and ins. In hand in sight. The officer had a tazer pull and aimed in my face and told me to take my keys out and put them in the officers hand and get out that i was bieng detained(well guess what if your pulled over you are detained) i try to identify myself and the officers kept yelling and i couldnt tell this officer from a man woman or little boy so i said get me a lawyer since i cant identify myself or know a reason why. When your shaking your tazer in my face with my 2 yr old little girl in the seat next to me. I found myself really fearful and trying to keep my body in between the tazer and my babygirl. When an assisting officer comes up and grabs my neck and placed another weapon against my arm. They were pushing against me with weapons as they were trying to jerk me out on my face while i was trying to inch out of the truck. I guess i froze or something or didnt move fast enough and they double tapped me with tazers then once out promptly laid down and put my arms behind my back. This assisting officer cuffed me with the front of my hands facing forward which pinched my wrists and made my hands numb and hurt. Then i was drug to the back of my vehicle and left there for quite awhile during which time told them my cuffs werent right and my hands were going numb and i was read my rights asked if i still wanted a lawyer. I said yes the cop said "we aint callen a lawyer in the middle of the night now didnt you say you were sorry you resisted" well they get another call and the officer thats assisting trys to send the cop that pulled me over on it. So they then told me to get up and i said im not moving until i get a lawyer. So they jerked me up and put me in the back of a police truck and refuse to fix my cuffs until the investgation was finished. So another hour or so gos by and they tell me that i was under arrest resisting arrest for search or transport. Well my wife needed gas money so i said its in my pocket i was laid down for this bc i was cuffed. So he got the money and gave it to her and she started to walk to the pickup, and i rolled over to let officer adjust my cuffs and he slammed them tighter and tried to throw me across the seat like a bale of hay. And tried to slam the door shut bc i cryed out in pain when he hurt me my leg was stiif hanging in the door so i used the opportunity yell call this lawyer tomy wife and yelled take me to the hospital cause i couldnt feel my hands i could just feel the pain of the cuffs cutting into the sides of my wrists. Was then taken to jail then to hospital for blood withdrawal which was the only reason they agreed to take me so i refused to be examined for injurys. Bailed out of jail on only the charge of resist and went the hospital on my own accord. Then filed a complaint with the chief of police and even gave him pictures of my injurys. I recieved a letter back and every word was either a lie or a contradiction. So i hired an attorneyto defend the charge and filed a lawsuit.