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This officer went way overboard. He refused to answer legitimate questions, refused Mr. Massey his Rights and then without provocation tazered him without warning---unless you consider pulling it on you without provocation to be a "warning?"
Then this officer violated the rights of Mrs. Massey--opening her vehicle door and leaning in (for a peek) as he lied to her. Then he went in the drivers side--he never asked for permission--that is a violation of Civil & Constitutional Rights right there.
Then he lied outright to the other officer and on tape--he isn't worthy of the Trust the People have placed him in and ought to be removed from office & civilly charged with assault and these violations
At no time did Mr. Massey refuse any supposed "order," he had a Right to have his questions answered on the spot--this never happened. When he tried conversing logically, without guile or raised voice the officer immediately took umbrage because he Knew he was in the wrong and Chose to act like the jerk he portrayed himself to be on the video. I say he loses his job & spends time in jail. Liars are the same as thieves and this officer certainly was that on this day! :oops:
I wouold be embarrassed to have him on my force if I were his superior & would eliminate him from that office immediately.

3,195 Posts
The tazered victim repeatedly, (while in his vehicle) asked for the speed/reason he was pulled over and the officer refused to tell him. He is required to do so. The victim was within his rights, as he plainly stated, to know exactly what he was being ticketed for (this includes the speed and he may also ask to see the radar guns display), before he would sign the document. The officer refused to answer him, simply saying you were going a little fast is no answer, in fact it side-steps the issue completely.

3,195 Posts
Thanks Mjolner, the comments from the officers you spoke with reinforce what I saw and felt concerning this officers actions on the video.

3,195 Posts
Mazellan wrote:

Edit: The true thing is police have something called Officers discression, (let some go or arrest someone). They use the "jerk Test" (basicly the attitude of the driver/suspect. Most officers will be lenient (writing you a warning/Lowering your speed on the ticket=saving you money when you pay for the ticket) on someone who is polite and truthfull. If you are not polite you will not get any breaks.

I can agree with you on this however, sometimes it makes no difference how polite, courteous or appropriate your words and actions are, there are officers who will violate your rights or be complete jerks. I have seen and dealt with many officers over the years and this is so true.

We could take, for example, the officer I met in Idaho who pulled me & my work-mates over at midnight, in our uniforms for making a required deposit. His first words indicated exactly the type of ******* we were meeting, they were, "So, what the **** are you doing in My alley?" Arrogant and a jerk.

We could also take a recent example and talk about the sheriffs' deputy I was pulled over by, he was a jerk from the git-go. I knew I had done wrong, admitted it to him and was polite & courteous, but he Had to prove himself to be a jerk anyhow by treating me contemptuously-without reason or provocation.

Then there are other officers who do their job, are respectful and not full of themselves. One of these pulled me over a few years ago, from the Highway Patrol, let me know I had a signal light not functioning-I fixed it on the spot, and he treated me with dignity and respect.

What happened with this guy was he did have a right, which we all do, to question the reason for the citation so he may fully understand what he is signing before doing so, and is entitled to an answer. This is what he said several times. His request to be informed before signing was deliberately ignored.

Mr. Masseys' biggest mistake was turning and reaching for his keys. There was no visible sign (that I could see on the video) of a clip knife or bulge that could have been a weapon. That was his mistake.

I have personally requested specifics on why I was being cited before and always got an appropriate response from the officers I was engaged with. None of them were like this officer was. I still am appalled at the outright lying he did to the other officer who came on the scene, that was inexcusable.

Now, the only person I have not seen comment on this issue is Hunter. We know he is an officer. Has he been on vacation? I would have thought he would have chimed in by now & let us know his thoughts on this. For all we know, he could perhaps lend some definition or comments which could be useful in this discussion. And if he did comment, I must have missed it, for which I will apologize now.

3,195 Posts
As there are questions regarding the civil liberties of an individual who has been pulled over for a traffic stop, and that individuals rights, or ability to ask questions of the officer involved, you may find this interesting. The following is from the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, please see #5, it is down the page a ways, but shows what I have declared all along, you may ask questions of the officer at the stop. Notice I did not say argue, just that you have a right to "ask."

The Traffic Stop

One goal of traffic safety education (TSE) is to instill a sense of personal responsibility on the novice driver. An outcome of that may be to produce a driver who will drive responsibly and avoid altercations with the law and those who enforce it. However, even when a motorist obeys all traffic laws, it is possible to have contact with law enforcement. There are a variety of reasons a person may be "pulled over" for a traffic stop. Examples include: speeding, failure to perform a function, or the driver fits the description of a suspect. Not all traffic stops, however, are for a negative consequence. Examples include: the officer may think you are in trouble, need help or are otherwise at risk.

Studies have shown the majority of law-abiding citizens form their perceptions of the police based on the 10 minute traffic stop. (Woodhull, A. 1994) A traffic stop may be the only contact some citizens ever have with law enforcement. By the time a student enters TSE, they have probably formed an opinion of law enforcement personnel from family or media. While this project cannot replace actual face-to-face contact between students and law enforcement, it can provide useful information and an awareness of the rights and responsibilities of both parties involved in the stop.

In 1999 alone, there were 43,800,000 contacts made with police across the United States. (US Department of Justice) Traffic stops accounted for fully 52% of all those contacts. In Washington state alone, 813,350 motorists were contacted for traffic violations. Of those, 359,220 citations were issued. (Washington State Patrol) That means about 1 of every 5.17 licensed drivers in Washington was stopped by police and 1 of every 11.69 were issued a citation.

Recently there has been speculation and debate on issues such as racial profiling, primary seat belt laws, "pretextual" traffic stops, etc. Some question what authority police have for stopping a motorist and what they can do during a traffic stop. As reported by the Seattle Times, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld pretextual traffic stops by a 5-4 majority, but was declared unconstitutional by the Washington state Supreme Court. Justice Richard Saunders in the ruling writes "The court said "pretextual" traffic stops amount to warrantless searches or seizures in violation of the state constitution’s Article 1, Section 7. That section says: "No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law". (The Seattle Times) The ruling was seen as a hamper to police who use this technique to help detect crime.

Other recent debates have been whether or not police officers can order drivers and passengers out of their vehicles during a traffic stop. In a recent case in Maryland where Attorney General Janet Reno spoke as "a friend-of-the-court", the justices said the need to protect police officer’s safety justifies the "minimal" intrusion on a passenger’s rights. (Jet) Legislation passed and officers are allowed to order passengers out of the vehicle.

The last two examples have shown two major concerns for both police and motorists. It is assumed a detailed example of how each party should respond to the stop would benefit both.

Motorists that are stopped by police may feel confused, anxious, or even angry like they are being picked on or that police should be focusing on other forms of crime like a burglary or homicide. Some experts claim a mock traffic stop in TSE courses will help reduce some of the anxieties motorists experience. Drivers need to be assured that:

* Police will provide their name upon request
* If not in uniform, police will present proper identification to verify they are a police officer.
* In unmarked vehicles they will still display emergency lights.
* Police will inform the person of the reason for being stopped
* Police will only arrest the person when they have probable cause to believe the person has committed a crime.

Officers have a great deal of discretion on whether or not they write a ticket. The type of violation, known driving history, and the driver’s attitude can all be considered before a ticket is written. Many officers will agree the driver’s attitude has a big influence on their decision. Unfortunately many motorists feel police should concentrate on "more important things" than enforcing traffic laws. Some drivers feel that they may be singled out or even inconvenienced by the stop, leading to inappropriate driver behavior toward the officer. Every officer has encountered a difficult motorist at one time or another. Difficult motorists could be grouped in the following categories: (Woodhull, A. 1994)

* Excuse givers - those who feel they have the perfect reason for breaking the law.
* Authority figures - citizens who think they are above the law.
* Hostile/aggressive bullies - those who threaten with inappropriate comments or mannerisms
* The know it all ("roadside attorneys") - those who challenge the validity of the law
* Perception challengers - those who challenge what you claim…"the light was yellow"
* Resisters - those who give you the silent treatment or won’t roll down the window
* Prejudice claimers-state you pulled them over because of their race or the type of car they drive

Unfortunately officers receive less training in communication skills than other aspects of the job; yet they have to deal with difficult motorists on a daily basis. Sgt. Ray Griffin of the Gainesville Police Department states "The vital communication skill an officer must use each day is often the most neglected area of training." (Woodhull, A. 1994)

* Humanize yourself
* Use listening and empathy skills
* Create a cooperative, working relationship
* Use humor
* Show concern

Traffic stops are inherently dangerous and pose a significant threat to the physical safety of law enforcement officers. It is not uncommon for routine traffic stops to escalate into a violent situation. During a ten year period from 1988 to 1997, 688 police officers were killed. Eighty-nine (12.9 percent) of these killings occurred during routine traffic stops. A total of 621,244 assaults were committed against police officers during this same ten-year period, 58, 502 (9.4 percent) were committed during traffic stops. (Lichtenberg, S. 2001)

One of the first and foremost responsibilities of the motorist is to be cooperative. Not that being polite is going to get you out of the ticket, but it can make the stop go smoother. The following list of suggestions will help make the situation safer for both the motorist and the officer. (US Department of Transportation)

1. When you see emergency lights/and or hear a siren, find a safe place to pull over and stop. Officers are trained to scope out the optimum location for the stop before turning on their emergency equipment. This is one reason why there are times when officers may follow a violator for a long distance before initiating the stop.
2. Stay in your vehicle unless the officer asks you to get out. If there are any passengers, they should do the same. Encourage them to be quiet and cooperate with the officer’s instructions. If the officer wants you to get out, they will ask you to. Many criminals exit their car to try to prevent the officer from seeing what they have in their possession.
3. Keep your hands on the steering wheel or dash so the officer can see them. This makes the officer feel more comfortable because he/she can see your hands.
4. Wait for the officer to ask you for your license, registration and insurance before you reach for them. You may think you are doing the officer a favor by having them ready, but they may think you are reaching for something else, like a gun.
5. If you feel the reason for the stop is vague or unclear, you can ask the officer for details. If you disagree, now is not the time to argue. You will have the opportunity to contest the citation in court if needed.[/b]
6. If you are issued a citation, sign the citation whether you agree, or not. Accepting it or signing it is not an admission of guilt.

Additional considerations should be taken if the stop occurs at night as nighttime stops pose additional risks.

1. After you pull over, turn on your dome light. This lets the officer know you have nothing to hide and are willing to cooperate.
2. Prepare to be "blinded" since police will utilize every light source (spot light, headlights, and "take-down" lights) available on the front of their car.
3. Realize the officer(s) will be using a flashlight to look around inside your car.

Traffic stops can be a dangerous situation for motorists and law enforcement alike. For the officer(s) there is a greatly heightened sense of awareness, suspicion, and fear. For the driver, emotions such as fear, anger, and confusion may become overwhelming. These emotions can be magnified for the novice driver.

By providing the novice driver with a general knowledge about traffic stops and suggestions on how to make it safe and efficient, it will help reduce the likelihood of a negative experience and improve police/citizen relations.

It is suggested officers use one or more of the following techniques during a traffic stop, especially those with an emotional or verbally confrontational driver: (Woodhull, A. 1998) law enforcement is a time proven method of increasing motorist safety, reducing the incidence of impaired and aggressive driving, and increasing the apprehension of dangerous criminals. Motorists involved in a traffic stop (even receiving a citation) should try to find the "positive" in the traffic stop. The incident should be used to make oneself a better motorist. Enforcing traffic laws help keep everyone safer.

* Contacts between police and the public: Findings from the 1999 national survey. (1999) US Department of Justice: Office of Justice Statistics. [On-line]. Available: http://www.ojp.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cpp99.pdf
* Court says police can order passengers out of car during traffic stop. (1997) Jet [On-line]. Available here
* Department of Transportation. (2001). The traffic stop ‘ you: Improving communications between citizens and law enforcement [Brochure].
* Lichtenberg, I. D., ‘ Smith, A. (2001) How dangerous are routine police-citizen traffic stops? A research note. Journal of Criminal Justice 29, 419-428.
* State high court limits police on traffic stops. (2001) The Seattle Times [On-line]. Available: http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/web/
* Washington State Patrol Traffic Activity. (2000) Available: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/reports/stats00.htm
* What To Do When Stopped By The Police. Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. [On-line]. Available: http://www.wa.gov/cjt
* Woodhull, A. V. (July 1994) Effective police communication in traffic stops. The Police Journal, 237-242.
* Woodhull, A V. (October 1998) Traffic stops and the emotional driver. The Police Journal, 375-376

Note: The following article was written in conjunction with a PowerPoint lesson that can be used in Traffic Safety Education courses (available upon request). The goal of this project was to create an awareness of the traffic stop and provide some general suggestions on how to respond appropriately to a police traffic stop, regardless of the reason for the stop. This project is not intended to be legal advice nor does it attempt to help a motorist get out of a ticket. It is intended to educate drivers on the responsibilities of both parties involvedâ€"the motorist and the law enforcement officer. It should also be noted that traffic stops may differ slightly depending on environment, jurisdictions, and laws that vary from state to state.

The most important issue is constitutional rights. We all have rights not enumerated by the constitution (same wording in the Utah state constitution), which are held as sacrosanct. One of these would be the right to ask questions so you can understand what a citation is for. I maintain that the officer involved refused Mr. Massey any semblance of an answer. In fact the huge sigh and attitude he immediately took when asked the first time for the reason for the stop is a huge indicator of his posture, attitude and demeanor on that day. Constitutional rights like the 1st & 10th Amendments, at minimum, were violated. In essence Mr. Massey, who could have been a bit smarter, never refused to sign, he only refused to sign until the officer would answer his question. I am positive after an appropriate response he would have signed, then contested it later. His mistake was turning and putting a hand in his pocket as he reached for keys. He could even have asked his wife to call 911 on the cell phone to report to the officer of the watch that they needed back up, or other officers to assist in the stop as the officer in question was violating their rights & terrorizing their family. Perhaps many may disagree with this however, it is an option that could also have been exercised.
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