This post is about a video of a police interaction in Virginia, which is included below. Let me say that the cops really need to stop being total dumbasses, because I really don’t want this blog to become an anti-cop blog. It just seems like they can’t help themselves. They are just hiring tyrannical dumbasses to be cops.
Here is the basis of the video that follows:
Police received at least one call complaining about shots fired in a rural area. The vehicle involved was reported to be a red pickup truck.
A deputy sees a vehicle matching that description and initiates a traffic stop. By the deputy’s own admission, he is not aware if the shots were fired in the vicinity of houses or a road, meaning that he has no idea whether or not a crime has been committed. In other words, there is no reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver of the red truck has committed a crime, because you can’t even point to a crime that you would suspect him of, thus making the traffic stop illegal. Note that Virginia law is plain on this:
Any law enforcement officer may detain any person whom the officer encounters under circumstances creating a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime, and require the person to identify himself. Any person so detained shall identify himself by giving his full legal name, but may not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of any law enforcement officer.
Here is what happened next:
Note that the deputy claims “You can’t shoot within so many feet of a home,” but by his own admission, he has no idea how far away any homes are from the location where the shooting was talking place.
I believe the cop is wrong about what the law says. For starters, the law in Virginia says that you can’t discharge a firearm on public land, AT a building, across or from a road, from a vehicle, or in a reckless manner. None of which has been alleged here. Watch this second, longer video of the traffic stop, and the second cop says that merely operating a vehicle on the roadways of Virginia constitutes reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop and demand to see the ID of the driver.
He says that “Evidence of a crime isn’t reasonable suspicion. You need to get a better lawyer.” The cop is clearly wrong. The law says:
A police officer may have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed if based on all of the facts and circumstances of the situation, a reasonable police officer would have the same suspicion.
The cop is not being reasonable, which is the standard here. He can’t even articulate which law, if any, he believes is being broken. How can a police officer believe that this man is committing a crime, when he can’t even point to a crime that he reasonably believes is being committed? The statement that merely driving down the road constitutes reasonable suspicion is extremely incorrect.
He says that I don’t have to point to a crime to initiate a traffic stop. This fucking dumbass of a cop then proves beyond a doubt that he doesn’t know what he is talking about when he admits that this isn’t a Terry stop. A Terry stop gets its name from the Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio. In a Terry stop, if a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that an individual is armed, engaged, or about to be engaged, in criminal conduct, the officer may briefly stop and detain an individual for a pat-down search of outer clothing. Since, under this cop’s own admission, this isn’t a Terry stop, then he has no reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed.
So instead, the cops go to the man’s property and arrest the father on a trumped up charge to teach the property owner (the son in the red pickup) a lesson. The cops went to the man’s property and arrested the man’s father because, in the cop’s own words, “He ain’t gonna curse me out.” This is a clear violation of the First Amendment rights of the father.
NOTE: A look at Sussex county court records shows that the father, Robert Steven Huffman, has been charged with a violation of 18.2-416, abusive language to another, a 3rd degree misdemeanor. His next hearing is December 18.
The Supreme Court of Virginia has limited the sweep of § 18.2-416 to abusive language that has “a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person to whom, individually, [the language is] addressed.” Mercer v. Winston, 214 Va. 281, 199 S.E.2d 724, 726
So is the police officer alleging that the man saying “Leave, get the hell off of my property” is language that would tend to cause him to commit acts of violence? No, this officer is a tyrannical asshole.
Again, remember that no crime has been alleged to cause the police to even be on the property in the first place. It isn’t a crime to shoot guns on private property. The cop keeps saying “We have complaints in the area of shots fired, and this is an open investigation,” but as we have pointed out already, there is no investigation, because there has been no crime alleged. In my opinion, the cops made the arrest to lure the property owner (the son in the red pickup) to an ambush.
The man in the pickup arrives on his property, and the cop arrests him because he won’t provide ID to prove that he is the owner of the property. Refer back to the law, above. The man doesn’t have to show that he owns his own land, which would mean that he has to prove his innocence. That’s not how this works.
This is a bad cop. The second cop who stood there and told him to “just comply” is also a bad cop. Why? Because he saw this illegal behavior and did nothing. He is also a dumbass that doesn’t understand the laws that he is supposed to be enforcing.
I hope they get a good lawyer, and I hope that they sue the Sheriff’s department of Sussex County. I also would like to reiterate that qualified immunity needs to go away. In the meantime: