Taylor Morales runs the family business, which is scrap metal recycling, with pride. She even jumps through all the hoops required by the State to conduct her business. One of those requirements is for customers who are selling metals to Morales’s business to present a current State ID. The purpose of such law, in the State’s view, is that if the goods (in this case metals) are stolen the police will be able to track down those responsible.
While I don’t think the state should be getting in the way of private business practices and if the state really wanted to cut down on the thief of such products then they should consider ending the war on drugs. Which is the motive for a large number of thefts including that of scrap metals. Morales noted that most of the people who bring scrap metal to them are homeless and that some of the state’s requirements can hamper such business.
She also mentioned that her business was the target of police stings in the past. While the previous employee was most likely entrapped by police into making the illegal purchase has been fired, the police still linger around and send would be customers to their business monthly.
Point is, the Morales’s are very aware of the laws and what the police are willing to do to entrap a business. She’s taken a more of a hands on approach to the family business due to these past mishaps.
Now that you have a little background into the Morales business, let me bring you to January 16th, 2015. Morales is working the counter when a customer attempts to sell some scrap metal but doesn’t have the proper identification to complete the process. When the customer is told this they become upset, is given back their paperwork (which does not have a birthday and is NOT State issued, therefore, not acceptable to the state) and storms off cursing. Now I can understand the frustrations of the customer, I’m sure many of us have been in a similar situation, but his issue is with the state not Morales.
Upset that Morales won’t finalize the transaction the customer decides to call the police. I’m not sure what the customer expected to happen but he told police that Morales ‘got in his face.’ You can see in the video below that Morales did not get into the customer’s face at all. This is important when San Jose Police Officer, Tony Vera, arrives on scene.
After waiting nearly an hour Officer Vera arrives on scene. According to Morales:
The customer whined to the police that I wouldn’t purchase his material. That’s when the cop comes into our business. He proceeds to harass and threaten me in an attempt to get my identification. I asked if I had committed a crime and if I could show him the surveillance video to prove it [that she didn’t get in the guy’s face]. The cop says he doesn’t care that he wants to give me a ticket. I found it disturbing that he got angry the moment I said, “I know my rights.” That’s when he starts to threaten me again. All while I’m inside my building, my business and trying to follow the law! I have extensive video of the entire incident and audio which this officer was informed I’d be doing. It shows him threatening me for not doing what he wants. I feared for my life and I’m thankful I had witnesses and surveillance to protect me.
This officer has a hatred for people, especially women who know their rights, and has prior offenses for misconduct in the past which just shows a pattern.
It seems weird that the officer would be so confrontational with Morales? If there was a meaningful duty of the police officer at this time it seems that would be to inform the customer that Morales is “just doing her job” (funny, right?) and that if they refused to leave they’d be trespassed but that’s not what happens.
According to Morales:
I ended up getting a ticket (misdemeanor) for “obstructing an officer’s duties” and giving false name and birthdate but I didn’t. He just couldn’t hear me because it’s a scrap warehouse and it’s hard to hear even on the audio you can hear me say 5/17/89 but he wrote down 88 and said I lied. This whole incident was because I denied service to a customer, who probably had stolen scrap and it was probably a sting like they did before, which I have every right to do. I have tons of surveillance and it shows me sitting in my office, on private property being verbally harassed from the customer and the police. I offered to show the cop the surveillance but he didn’t care because he doesn’t like our business or our customers (majority Latino and homeless) even though the cop is Latino. Do they have the right to give me a citation on my property for doing nothing wrong?
Sadly, police officers can issues tickets whenever they please even if it’s obvious (with video proof) that you didn’t do what they say you did. Yet, thanks to the video Vera won’t get away with this one. It’s clear that something was fishy here and that the officers focus was off point. If Vera was investigating if Morales was in someone’s face than he should not only LOOKED at the video evidence but collected it as well. After all, it’s proof of a crime right?
While police like to claim they’re “just doing their jobs” the only person who was actually doing their job was Morales. Vera had no interest in getting the truth regarding the customers allegations and he most certainly wasn’t protecting or serving anyone here. Except maybe his own ego.
Hopefully Morales’s courage, cameras and this post will help keep the police at bay in the future. She has an upcoming court date for these bogus charges so I’ll keep you updated as to that outcome. Maybe we can help get her charges dropped.
Police Comics #2 Nm 9.4