Virginia State Police are conducting an investigation of a traffic stop on I-495 in April 2019 after the motorist’s attorney posted video of the violent arrest on social media on Monday. During the video, Virginia State Trooper Charles Hewitt appears to take delight in the violent arrest of Derrick Thompson, a Black man.
Thompson’s lawyer, Joshua Erlich, also sent a letter to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring earlier this week, calling on him to investigate what he says is an unconstitutional arrest, reports The Washington Post.
The Virginia State Police says they have reviewed footage of the arrest, taken on Thompson’s cellphone.
“The conduct displayed by Trooper Hewitt during the course of the traffic stop is not in agreement with the established standards of conduct required of a Virginia trooper. Nor is it characteristic of the service provided daily across the Commonwealth of Virginia by Virginia State Police personnel,” said Gary Settle in a statement.
The commonwealth’s Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moral also told the Post the clip of the arrest was “unacceptable.”
Thompson was pulled over on April 20, 2019 for an expired inspection decal. According to the police, the trooper who initiated the stop said she smelled marijuana coming from Thompson’s car and wanted to search it.
Thompson is Black and has short, jaw-length dreadlocks.
The video begins with Thompson addressing the camera as Trooper Hewitt attempts to open his driver’s side door through the rolled down window.
“Take a look at me. I am a fucking specimen right here, buddy. You have gotten on my last nerve, all right?” says Hewitt.
Throughout the arrest, Thompson dictates what is happening to his camera and does not respond back to the police directly. Hewitt gets increasingly agitated as Thompson declines to get out of the car.
“You are going to get your ass whooped,” Hewitt says. “I’m going to give you one more chance. You can bring that with you — I’ll let you film the whole thing.”
Finally, Hewitt tells Thompson he is being arrested before telling the camera, “Watch the show, folks.”
The trooper then hooks his elbow around Thompson’s neck and drags him out of the car while Thompson shouts, “My life is in danger!” What happens next is all off camera, but you can overhear Hewitt saying, “How do you like that?” before commanding Thompson to put his arms behind his back.
Thompson shouts back, “My hands are behind my back. My hands are behind my back. I am not resisting.”
Throughout the video, two other officers stand by and watch.
Erlich told a local NBC affiliate he found the video disturbing.
“Trooper Hewitt appears to be enjoying himself. He appears to be hamming it up for the camera and that’s really what’s terrifying,” the attorney said.
Thompson was taken to a Fairfax County jail and treated for a “minor” injury to his forehead, reports NBC. Police charged him with obstruction of justice, driving on a suspended license and driving with an expired decal.
No marijuana was ever found in the car.