This post was submitted by Erik Hwang using our Submit Page
Officers involved: D.W. Stump, Lynchburg PD Badge No. 257, and one other officer
I was driving on Bedford Ave (in my girlfriend’s car) when an unmarked White Crown Victoria drove past me. I had my suspicions that this was indeed a police vehicle but continued onto Rivermont Ave to stop at Miles’ Food Market (Citgo). I did not think the police would follow me, and from the point I saw them to my stop at Citgo, I did not commit any crimes and followed traffic law in order to attempt to avoid police interaction.
I stayed in my vehicle while my friend/passenger walked into the convenience store. At this point, I looked up to see a police officer – not in uniform – wearing a bulletproof vest, sunglasses and several weapons at his hip. His partner or another officer was with him. I did not see them following me. Naturally, I was scared because I have been keeping up with police killings and did not want to aggravate the officers in any way. The officer, D.W. Stump approached initially in a non-threatening manner.
This conversation will not be 100% but it is accurate.
Stump: …you look familiar. You look like someone we’re looking for…
Me: Is he Asian?
He asked for my ID and I willingly gave it to him because I believed I had not committed any crime for this to be in this situation in the first place. He did not ask for my registration and insurance. I want to make it clear that I had an expired NY license at the time and the only reason I was out was to drive my friend to and from work. Officer Stump proceeded to claim that it was a high traffic area and they are just checking.
At this point, he asked me to step outside my vehicle and asked if I had anything illegal. I said NO. I stepped out of my own will since again, I had trusted the officer and did not want to make him feel threatened. He told me just because I am doing all this doesn’t mean I’m in trouble. He did a pat down and at this time, I notified him that I had a folding knife in my back pocket. I am still standing outside my vehicle and my phone was in my car so I could not record my situation. From this point on, I was outside my vehicle and about 5-10ft away.
There was no marijuana nor any smell emanating from the vehicle. They asked if they could search my vehicle and I said no. Then they said they would bring the dog out to search the “air space” around the vehicle and did not need a warrant to do this. I believe him. At this point, I was scared, I had not eaten anything that day, and since I am an overnight worker, this time would have been comparable to 3:00AM to me, compared to an average 9-5 worker. With his dog on a leash, looking aggressive, I was scared my life could end right here very soon.
With lack of food and sleep, I strongly believe I could not think or act calm and normal. I would agree that I may have looked fishy because my face was involuntarily twitching and my eyes kept looking to my car because I wanted to go home and not be in this situation that I had no experience for. The police had started to become aggressive in their tone, perhaps seeing that I was breaking down. One of the officers asked again before searching with the dog, as if trying to give me a final warning to self incriminate.
In my head, I’m thinking “I don’t have drugs, the only wrong I did was driving with an expired license. Why are these officers doing this to me?” Because of my inexperience, I did not keep my eyes glued to the officers. The dog went around the vehicle and may have gotten on top of the hood, but did not bark or scratch on my vehicle. My friend was also involved and handcuffed. The officer with the dog on a leash (Not Stump) went around the vehicle with the dog and claimed that the dog gave him indication that something is in my car. The officer with the dog came towards me with the dog in front of him, raising his voice, saying “You want to say something now?!” I still claimed I have nothing.
The officers handcuffed my friend and I and did not say why. They began to aggressively search my friend and I. He said spread your legs apart and I did, but he used his foot to distance them further, as if trying to trip me down. He had touched me all over my body and very extensively in my private area and my pockets. At this point, I was very uncomfortable and being handcuffed. I was bewildered at this point and my understanding of logic and thought that police are out there to help me was no longer present.
Stump went back to his Crown Vic and brought me a yellow ticket and Analysis of Plant Material sheet. I wanted to read the Analysis paper carefully but the officer rushed me, threatening to revoke my opportunity to sign the analysis sheet. I was scared I’d be in some sort of deeper trouble so I reluctantly signed both papers.
After everything was done, I asked if the officer had taken anything that was my possession because he had already looked through my phone which includes my personal information without my permission. He asked, “For what?” and I answered “For anything.” I was angry at this point and wanted to be sure if they were going to steal anything for evidence, I wanted to know. He expressed anger that I asked, as if he was offended.
I don’t even recall the officers showing me any sort of test for narcotic confirmation. They claimed to have found “Seeds and torn plastic bag that might’ve been part of a baggie”
The police officer blocked the exit ramp, his vehicle was parked perpendicular to mine, so the police vehicle’s driver door was facing the back of my vehicle. They had blocked me in case of escape, I would assume.
I have already went to court and failed. I had very little knowledge of how the justice system works and had asked around. Most people said I could’ve had a court appointed lawyer and this is possible when I first go to court. But the only time I went to court was the court date. I did not know at which point I could’ve tried to do this.
I am now having difficulty finding a job. Prior to having this possession charge, I had a clean record and was proud of it.
I think about this interaction I had with the police almost everyday, wishing it never happened, how I could’ve done better and highly depressed it happened this way. I wish there was some sort of retrial because I am innocent and stand by that. I feel I have suffered injustice and I want justice.