The video above was submitted via the CopBlock submission tab by Michael Burns, of CopBlock Central Florida, who had this to say:
About a month ago, the Lakeland Police Department seemingly profiled and illegally detained two people while they waited for their k9 to come. The officers claim the man stopped past the line before turning – something if done while making a right turn is perfectly legal in the state of Florida when you are unable to see approaching cross traffic from the line and it is safe – which is usually just an excuse to go on a fishing expedition.
The two men were ordered out of their car while a K9 performed a search and, like it most K9 searches, the dog allegedly hit on the car. The man was quite adamant about there being nothing in the car and after about a 15 minute search he was proven to be right. He is only lucky nothing was planted in his car that night.
He did a great job of recording and attempted to flex his right to remain silent but, like myself, sometimes it is hard not to answer questions or tell an officer how corrupt and useless they are. This 23 minute (original) video can be seen below.
– Michael Burns
This video is a great example of why you should NEVER answer questions by police. These two men were merely trying to find a friends house to celebrate the passengers birthday and, IMO, sharing that information lead to the unwarranted search of the car. The officer probably assumed that since these two guys were in their mid-twenties and heading to a ‘party’ that they would most likely have something illegal on them. While some say, “if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn’t be concerned about police searching your car” this goes to show why you should never volunteer information to the police.
This isn’t to say that refraining from answering the officer’s questions about where you’re headed or what you’re up to will keep you from being searched. It some incidents the officer could see that as ‘having something to hide’ yet, it’s in your best interest because without the additional information, of going to a party, the officer would have a difficult time providing reasonable suspicion. So you might not be able to prevent the police from searching your vehicle, since they do whatever they want, but you could – by limiting the information provided to them – get the stop or search thrown out of court due to the legality of the search.
My advice for stops like this is for the passenger to remain silent, as they are merely a passenger in the car and most likely not suspected of a crime, and allow the driver to address the stop. The passenger should be the one to record and when asked questions by police only respond with, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” If the police say you’re being detained ask, “Why?” If they say, “no” then get out of the car and film the stop from a distance.
*Note: after asking why, if the police say you are being detained, you have two choices. One is to go along with answering their questions or providing ID. The second is to question the reason you’re being detained and is somewhat more risky. If the police aren’t clearly stating to you why you’re being detained you should ask for a supervisor and/or leave the scene.*
As this stop spirals out of control with the police taking issue with the man’s camera phone – which has no where need the power of the police officer’s flashlights (which they shine in everyone’s face), while claiming that the dog alerted on the car in order to conduct a more thorough search. One officer even says that the man’s current actions are making the police suspicious. Which is simply ridiculous because, as the man mentions, he KNOWS there was nothing illegal (though everything is illegal and what’s illegal changes often) and therefore the dog triggering means one of two things. Either the dog is unable to accurately perform their job or the officer who handles the dog is unable to identify a proper ‘hit’ from the vehicle.
As the stop concludes the police come up empty handed. Four officers and one police dog were on this stop for over 30 minutes and not even a traffic violation was given. This proves, IMO, that the officer knew that the ‘rolling the stop sign’ ticket wasn’t going to stick. In fact, it probably never happened and it was just the bait used by the Lakeland police officer to go on a fishing expedition. These cops thought two younger men out late and headed to a party would most certainly turn up some illegal activity. Yet, even though the police used all the tricks – a dog, intimidation and good cop/bad cop – their efforts to find illegal activity returned no results. The only thing that probably kept this man from having drugs planted in his car or, at the least, a BS traffic ticket issued to him was his video camera.
Even with the police going through great lengths to find something illegal they had to realize that with this man’s video, actions and the steps that it would have taken to make a charge stick (falsifying reports or planting evidence) that the police were better off tucking tail and seeking a less defiant victim. Which brings us full circle to the ultimate conclusion of, “ALWAYS FILM THE POLICE” – no matter what. Regardless of the way you choose to handle your police interactions – whether that be to answer officer questions because you have nothing to hide or to stand up for your rights – you should record your interactions. It might not have helped them in the middle of this particular video but I do believe it kept the cops from further violating this man’s rights.
Learn more about filming the police by visiting the CopBlock.org “Film the Police” page.
ENTIRE VIDEO OF TRAFFIC STOP: