• The persons within the vehicle were – as you can see on the video – less than cooperative and, in some cases antagonistic toward the officers.
• The driver reached out of his window with a black object in his hand. The sergeant immediately felt threatened by this gesture and took actions to protect himself and others on the scene.
People these days seem to like to draw strong and definitive conclusions based upon clips of video and information. That’s not how this complex world works, folks. The driver and occupants of a vehicle have far more to do with the outcome of a traffic stop than does the initiating officer. Respect begets respect. Antagonism and hostility are met with defensiveness and it escalates the officers’ stress response – this never leads to a more productive and civil engagement. When I watch this video, I don’t see a car full of young men who are behaving in a manner consistent with fear of the police. These young men are escalating this incident, being uncooperative with officers who are investigating a violent crime, and recording their interaction – presumably with the hopes of catching a “gotcha” moment on the part of our personnel.
I hate to disappoint them, but no gotcha moment exists here…which is why I suspect nobody ever came forward to make a complaint about this. Rest assured, absent a complaint we still looked into this incident and found the officers’ actions to be appropriate and justifiable given the totality of the circumstances. To those who are attempting to use this video to stoke racial tension and fear – I’d encourage you to work toward a solution and engage productive behaviors. For example:
• Report what you perceive to be police misconduct – and let us know when we are doing something right as well!
• Participate in our citizen’s police academy, and learn more about why and how we do the things we do… Ignorance is a terrible catalyst to judgment.
• Make an appointment to come chat with me about the direction of the department and offer your suggestions for improved service.
If you didn’t know the information I shared with in about the broader context and circumstances of this incident and drew a conclusion, reconsider with these facts in mind. Facts are a stubborn thing.
The officers felt threatened…by a cell phone.