Once again the behavior of a police officer (this time in California) is drawing national attention and debate after the officer decided to keep his weapon trained on a passenger in a car for more than nine minutes during a traffic stop.
According to the Washington Post, the officer pulled over the vehicle along U.S. Route 101 after he noticed the car going some 85 mph, the Campbell Police Department said. After he stopped the car, the officer asked for a driver’s license and other paperwork, which the driver did not have readily at hand. The report indicates that the driver and the passenger spent several minutes looking for the requested documents before the officer walked back to his motorcycle to write a citation, police said.
It was at around that point that things got really tense, and, of course, the passenger and the officer tell different stories.
Police say the passenger began to reach “under his seat.”
“It is not clear why the passenger chose to reach under the seat since the officer was not requesting any other paperwork,” Campbell police said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the passenger’s unexpected movement towards the bottom of the seat, caused the officer to perceive a threat and draw his handgun.”
Apparently, that caused the officer to draw his weapon and keep it drawn and trained on the passenger, even when the passenger had removed his hands and kept them in plain view.
The unidentified man sitting in the passenger’s seat insists throughout the video that he had been reaching for some papers on the floor to see if they were the documents that the officer requested.
The video starts as the male passenger argues with the cop, expressing his outrage that the gun is being drawn and trained on him.
“Wow,” the man says. “We’re looking for the fucking paperwork, bro. Oh my God.”
“I understand that,” the officer replies, all while keeping his gun trained on the passenger. “Don’t move, all right?”
“Why are you still pointing that gun at me, bro?” the man demands to know. “Why are you still pointing the gun at me, though? Record this shit. Why are you still pointing the gun at me, bro? My hands are right here.”
“I understand,” the officer responds, his gun still leveled at the passenger.
The officer then tells the passenger to relax, which you know, is always something so easy to do when someone has a loaded weapon trained directly at you.
“No, you don’t understand,” the passenger insists. “No, I’m not going to relax. Get the fucking gun off me.”
At that point a woman, who is presumably recording the incident, chimes in, “Is that really necessary? His hands are both out.”
The officer claims that it is necessary as he waits for backup to arrive, causing the passenger to protest about the need for backup when he was just trying to comply and follow orders.
At one point in the video, the officer mentions that he doesn’t know what the man was reaching for, adding that there is a screwdriver on the floor of the car.
“Why are you trying to make this bigger than it is, bro?” the passenger asks. “We complied with everything you asked for.”
For several more minutes, the video continues with the passenger complaining about having the weapon trained on him. For the entire video, which is a little more than nine minutes, the gun remains trained on the passenger.
Campbell police said that the officer had to wait longer than usual for backup to arrive because of where the stop took place.
“We understand that it is never a comfortable position to have a gun pointed at you, regardless of whether it is a police officer,” police said. “Unfortunately, the length of time that the officer’s gun was drawn lasted much longer than normal based on his location.”
The authorities also said the situation was resolved well, even ending with the passenger apologizing to the officer.
“In the end, the officer had a conversation with the passenger of the vehicle explaining his actions and why the gun was pointed at him,” police said. “The passenger indicated he understood why it happened and actually apologized to the officer. Both the driver and the passenger were issued citations and were allowed to leave.”
However, a video posted to Facebook by the user “Feo Mas” seemed to convey other feelings about the stop.
“CAMPBELL COP IS A BITCH!!!!!!!!!! (Niga pulled out a gun cuz I reached for paperwork he asked for Campbell cop on 101 coming from Hollister exit bailey),” the caption of the video read.
The video has been viewed more than 1.9 million times and amassed some 8,000 comments, with some people defending the cop and others defending the passenger’s reaction to his situation.
“As an agency, we can understand the response to the Facebook video, and that is why we have and will continue engaging our community,” the CPD said, according to the Post. “The comments on the Facebook video bring up a lot of different viewpoints about how the officer could have responded differently or used different tactics. Our officers receive a tremendous amount of training on a consistent basis and that training is what dictates our response. This is intended to protect our officers as well as those they come in contact with.”
Read more at the Washington Post.