October 7th, 2014
10:05 PM ET

Crime & Punishment: Shocking traffic stop video raises questions about police procedure

Editor's note: Some viewers may find this video disturbing.

A video that's at the center of a federal lawsuit begins with police pulling a woman over for not wearing a seatbelt. Then officers smash a window and taser an African-American man in the passenger seat. According to the suit, the driver was on her way to the hospital to see her dying mother with her two children in the backseat. Legal analysts Sunny Hostin and Paul Callen have different views of the officers' actions.

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Filed under: Paul Callan • Sunny Hostin
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. notsocivilized

    This, after all of the flak police officers have been catching over questionable shootings, is icing on the cake of excessive force. This may have been avoided, but in many instances numerous police officers have very likely overstepped their legal bounds. This looks more of a military exercise than a routine traffic stop with non-compliant citizens.

    A bold cookie-cutter prediction: The federal investigation will state, "the officers feared for their lives and the non-compliant passenger of the offending driver's vehicle was reaching for what the officers thought was a weapon."

    I was a supporter of police defending themselves in extreme situations, but it seems like the ever-expanding militaristic tactics of our neighborhood and city protectors has lost it's focus.

    October 17, 2014 at 1:25 am |
  2. ghostwrite1973

    Just reading many of your comments I truly feel sad for you. For those that feel that you should do exactly what the police tell you to do so they can let you go are those same people that eventually lose all your civil rights through complacency. There are many cases out there where people regardless of color are shot, beaten and killed by cops and they did exactly what the police officer told them to do. Today the police are no longer protecting their neighborhoods, but are more of a gang mentality. I like to think there are some really great cops out there, but all you have to do is ask yourself if they are out there than where are the whistle blowers at. BROTHERS in blue and if you dont believe it you will when that person is you or your family that is targetted.

    October 16, 2014 at 3:06 am |
    • bigtexun

      I agree 100% with your general sentiment, but I disagree with your conclusion.

      To stay alive, you must very carefully avoid inciting the cop to shoot you with justification. The moment you stop following orders, you are pressing on the trigger that can make things go very wrong for you.

      To preserve our rights, we need to vote. SERIOUSLY! The people the cops victimize the most, are the same groups of people least likely to vote.

      It is true that a single vote may not make a difference in most elections, but we are more than single votes, we are a large voting block, and we can make changes to society by electing lawmakers that represent our interests. THAT is the only way we will stop this crap. And you can't just vote once, you must vote each and every election, and you need to insure all of your family and friends also vote. Any minority in this country can become a majority in an election by simply getting everyone in that minority community to vote.

      Want to disband the police gangs and get protective peace officers doing a fair job? VOTE! All of you! All of US.

      I admit I didn't used to vote at all. My first vote was specifically for Obama, because I saw him and what his presidency will mean as a sign of change. Sure he didn't change as much as I would have liked, but that was because of the established resistance to change. But I voted a second time in the first midterms, then I voted for Obama again... And it is working, slowly but surely. The midterm numbers are up now, and there will be some miniscule change that results from that... Every time we get more people to the polls, we see change creeping in. Sure, the opposition also ups their game, and do what they can do to counter it... But the so-called "minorities" are part of a larger group that is the majority. But to make the majority effective, we have to do what the opposition doesn't want us to do, we must VOTE!

      By voting, in every election, we will begin to turn the wheels in a new direction. It will take years, more than some of us have left on this earth. But don't let that stop you, do it for your legacy. Do it to bust up the cop gangs. Do it for your grandbabies... Do it for your family members lost to injustice... Find a reason important to you, and use that to empower you and vote. The more people that do this, the quicker change will come.

      And when you think that things are moving too slowly, something will happen creating a chain of events that will make the coming change visible. The signs are starting to appear now, but accompanying signs of resistance to the change are also visible... But those are the death throes of the oppressors, they cannot win. they must not win. All we have to do is vote.

      And don't be fooled, this is not a quick fix. Obama did not get as much done in Washington as hoped, it will take several more just like him... and it will take stuffing as many of those people as possible, men and women, into congress. The president can only do what congress allows... We need a president and a full congress, and we need that for many years in a row... The only way to do that is to vote, vote, vote and vote. All of us.

      October 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
  3. b0bc4t

    Save yourself the drama and the fear of police by following their directions and comply with their requests. Arguing with police will put them on edge for their own safety and suspicion of possible crimes or concealed weapons. The officer may ask you to go beyond what you feel comfortable with, but if you comply or be polite, they can be on their way and you on your way. You can ask them what is the purpose of the stop, and often times they will tell you outriht. Questioning their authority , especially when you are subject to their authority is a losing battle. Their report will certainly skew differently from yours, so expect that before you give them attitude and further reason to search and suspect you of wrongdoing. I say this as someone who has a favorable view of police, but with a selfish interest of my own protection.too. I have faced my share of petty vindictive officers too. Comply and let them play their power trip. If you have nothing to concern them, you have little to worry about.

    October 15, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
  4. evilsorcerer1

    Not that I'm taking sides here because I'd rather save any defending I have to do for myself, but it's crazy to just open the door for someone just because they tell you to. Not a good idea to let people go on thinking they can order and push me around. It's the same "correct your children because you love them" mentality insane people believe and use as a way to cover up their own sickness because they don't want to fix it. And somehow they seem to get away with it.

    October 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
  5. zip4ait

    Send em back to Africa w Ebola

    October 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm |
  6. bothsiderfair

    If you watch the whole video here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6gxS_6BhLw

    You'll see that the gentleman did in fact give BOTH officers his information when asked, and with all the recent unarmed black people shootings can you blame him for being suspicious?

    It's the principle of the matter. It is a fact that Black people are stopped more than white people by officers. And that they get harassed as documented in may videos / apps. People are trying to tell them that these things that happen aren't real, but the sad reality is that they do. When a group feels like they are being targeted and is supported by evidence, then it's wrong to down play the problem just because it's not the reality for YOU.

    October 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
  7. melissaivory

    Honestly, we need to know what lead the police officer to think breaking the window was the best course of action. Why was it so important the man get out of the car and why wouldn't the officers listen to the explanation given to him about the lack of ID or call in to verify the story? This is definitely excessive because instead of treating these people with respect, it seems as if the officers felt this family was somehow doing something wrong other than the driver not wearing a seatbelt.

    October 9, 2014 at 5:12 am |
  8. alshd79

    Two of the officers in question had cases settled out of court for excessive force. The woman said she was afraid for her life who else was she going to call her state senator or Ghostbusters? Yes the couple should have done what they were asked to do but now the cops have inadvertently created another generation of people of who distrust The police in the sixteen year old and seven year old in the back seat. The cycle continues.

    October 9, 2014 at 12:55 am |
  9. ladyt624

    Smashing a window seems more like an act of rage then someone fearing for their safety.

    October 9, 2014 at 12:11 am |
    • dt60093

      You need to smash the window to use the taser (less than deadly force). If he had used his handgun (deadly force), smashing the window would not be necessary.

      October 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm |
  10. txcowboy1998

    if she was in such a hurry to go see her dying mother, why did she spend over 15 minutes arguing with the police. it amazes me how every time a black male decides to act like a jackass towards the police, it's the police who are always at fault So you fail to ID yourself and break the law...you think the police are just going to let you go now.

    October 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
    • mostsensitive

      I liked your comment. Some people can be pretty dumb with the cops. Think the officer should have done anything
      different than he did?

      October 9, 2014 at 8:27 am |
      • dt60093

        The police always have to win. They will use whatever force is needed to accomplish that. Their orders are not to ignore the difficult cases and only pursue the easy ones. They are required to resolve every case, and to whatever force is needed to succeed. That includes incapacitating or killing uncooperative people.

        October 15, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
  11. albany2015

    It's amazing how people turn these type of incidents into race and rouge cops. Maybe the adults in the car should have followed directions. Anderson, why don't you give equal coverage to the fact that the couple refused to follow the officers directions which resulted in the officers using force to enter the vehicle. Quit trying to stir the race wars.

    October 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm |
  12. ajuarez901

    As a lifelong member of the community this took place in, allow me to give our panel of experts a little insight.
    1. This is an extremely diverse community where black and hispanic compose the majority of the population, I highly doubt race is an issue for cops in an area where the majority of their stops will result with a minority.
    2. Hammond, In is 1 of 10 most dangerous cities in the entire state of Indiana along with their neighboring cities East Chicago and Gary. This city is profound for gang violence and drug trafficking.
    3. 2 officers were killed in the line of duty this summer 2014 within Lake County, IN in which Hammond belongs to. Surely something very fresh to keep in the back of every officers mind, more so than usual.

    This is no American suburbia. Extreme threat and danger are imposed on these officers daily, and it would be niave of them to risk giving an uncooperative individual the benefit of the doubt. This very subjectively appears to be the result of an individual being difficult for the sake of being difficult. He had nothing to hide, and let his pride and ego escalate an avoidable situation.

    October 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
  13. diywebmasters

    I don't know if this was based on race or not, but I believe it's certainly based on the officers over reacting. And not because they believed there was a gun in the car, but simply because it pissed them off that these people didn't do what they said. i would almost bet that these officers would have reacted the same way if the couple was white. They absolutely shouldn't have done what they did, but it looks to me like it was because they were pissed, not because they were racist.

    October 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
  14. janebhanlon

    They should of provided their ID. Why go to the man who had his belt on instead of the driver who did not? Wow when I see this video and others recently two things come to mind...what is happening to law enforcement in this country? & I am not sure race is an issue I remember when I first moved back to Tampa years ago my tag had expired by one day I had my kids in the car I was stopped and the 2 male officers wanted to search my car and my then 16 year old daughter – I flat told them NO search our stuff and our car but you will not touch my daughter – and they didn't -we were then asked to get out of the car and they searched my car I then was given a warning ticket but the audacity that they wanted to search my daughter. They were young, greenhorns, very full of themselves. Better training is required.

    October 8, 2014 at 9:54 am |
  15. rulloa

    there is no evidence this was based on race. but that does not take away from the fact that the cops did use excessiv force. however this could have been prevented if the couple had cooperated. why would they refuse to cooperate?

    October 8, 2014 at 3:11 am |
    • janebhanlon

      I do not care what race or color you are cooperate yes but it is very frightening when one is faced with police brutality and also consider they were going to see her dying mother. I would provide ID but DO NOT trust 99% of law enforcement just from seeing what is changing and personal experience – I am a 67 year old white female and a law abiding person. Would like to see more statistics on how much brutality law enforcement has to deal with regarding regular traffic stops versus non law enforcement citizens knowing they too have a great deal to contend with, but better psych evals and training for police is desperately needed.

      October 8, 2014 at 10:00 am |
  16. Gary Rae Jones

    I can't determine if this was race based, but after watching videos like this with police brutality on literally a daily basis at this point in history I confess that myself, a white man, would be very concerned about getting out of the vehicle and having an open interaction with the police. Either the police are too power happy (which I seriously think many are) or poorly educated on how to handle various situations they might find themselves faced with. And in this situation there was only an unbuckled driver. Shame on the bullies that wear police uniforms.

    October 8, 2014 at 1:10 am |
  17. ucanthandletruth

    So what was his issue with handing him his identification? I don't know what the laws are in their state, but I figure a lot of this could have been avoided if they cooperated. Also why would you call 911 if you are terrified of the police? Makes no sense.

    October 8, 2014 at 12:41 am |
    • jyngrehl

      The issue with him handing them his ID was that he didn't have any as it was previously confiscated. He was attempting to show the officer the paperwork from that incident but the officer in question refused to take the paperwork. When back up officers arrived he was searching for the paperwork in question and they drew their guns. He was afraid for his life and the lives of his children, and stated the fact clearly in the video.

      October 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • proservkelles

      In 24 states police may require you to identify yourself
      (if they have reasonable suspicion that you’re involved in criminal activity.)
      “Stop and identify” statutes are laws in the United States that allow police to detain persons and request such persons to identify themselves, and arrest them if they do not.
      In the United States, interactions between police and citizens fall into three general categories: consensual (“contact” or “conversation”), detention (often called a Terry stop), or arrest. “Stop and identify” laws pertain to detentions.
      At any time, police may approach a person and ask questions.
      The person approached is not required to identify himself or answer any other questions, and may leave at any time.
      Police are not usually required to tell a person that he is free to decline to answer questions and go about his business; however, a person can usually determine whether the interaction is consensual by asking, “Am I free to go?”

      October 14, 2014 at 1:05 pm |

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