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“No Reason to stop me”

There was no champagne.  No victory lap.  Not even a fist pump.  I didn’t feel vindication or think there was any reason to celebrate upon hearing the news: the Cobb County Police Department investigation concluded that the officer who pulled me over July 30 had no reason to do so. (See “Flashing Lights“)

After the initial stir caused by my series of tweets about the police stop and during the past few weeks, the process has quietly been playing out.  I sent formal letters of complaint to Cobb County Police.  They were responsive and were even keeping up with the story in national media and the public reaction to it.  The department stayed in frequent contact with me during the investigation through my friend, attorney B. J. Bernstein, who represented me in this matter.

First, the official findings from the department:  the stop was caught on the officer’s in-car camera, and our entire conversation can be heard.  The department used the footage as evidence in the investigation.  According to police, the officer believed that the temporary tag on my car was a viable reason to stop me, and he did not know he could “check to see if I had insurance” by using the number on the tag.  (As I wrote in an earlier blog, GA law changed a year ago to specifically address this issue and eliminate the need for officers to pull drivers over to check insurance.)  The camera footage confirms, police say, that after pulling me over and retrieving my driver’s license and insurance card, the officer went back to his car and called my insurance company.

The investigation did not have a finding about whether race played any factor in the stop.  Rather, police say he wrongly believed he had a viable reason to stop me.  There is no record of how often this officer or others may wrongly stop drivers to check for insurance based on a temporary tag.

The officer who stopped me is a fairly junior officer.  He has now been retrained on the issue with the incident going in his permanent record.  Police say they handle all complaints the same and routinely discipline officers for misconduct.  They also note that my status as a public figure did not have any bearing on how they treated my complaint.

A Cobb County police captain told me the results of the investigation during a conference call Monday.  It was a respectful but also productive conversation in which the captain apologized for the stop.  But, this isn’t the end of the story.  The department is taking action that goes beyond one officer and one stop.  Plus, I plan to see the officer again … somewhere other than the side of the road.

To be continued …

 

Comments

April Wilson
Reply

Being an officer’s wife it sucks that there are officers like this, but they also do it to white people looking for meth heads! My youngest has a hunting truck that should he blown up a long to time ago, it’s about 15 yrs old painted camo! Now TJ we live just East of Ft Smith in Arkansas out in Lavaca, by the Bud can, he gets pulled over every single time he drives that stupid truck to go fishing ir hunting and is asked if they can search his truck every single time he says yes sits in the back if a cop car and there has been times they have brought the dog out! My son is white,never been arrested, has a good job and never used drugs and the kicker his dad, granddad and uncle are all COPS! Then when they are all done the look on their face when he informs them who he is who his dad is and the Chief of Staff to the Govenor is a close cousin! So see TJ it’s not just you a good hard working white kid who has his hunting truck can be labeled a meth cook because of the way it looks! I feel for you just remember there are really good cops out there and there are those that are those good ole turds!

Denise Gatling
Reply

As an African American/Caucasian woman who was adopted and raised from birth by an all white family, I was always raised to respect and accept everyone, no matter the color of their skin. When I hear of an incident involving racism, I try to look at the situation from both sides of my being. BOTH sides of me thinks this is racism, whether the cop is racist or not, his actions sure were. I’m so glad you shared your experience, TJ, because it brings us back to talking to our kids about it, talking to our parents about it, and talking with or grandparents about it, and what an important conversation it is to have!

Dee
Reply

Props to you, T J, for being the bigger person in this. I think there is probably going to almost always be a way for law enforcement to “spin” situations where they were clearly wrong, even when on its face, the impetus for this one was very clear.

I’m looking forward to your next post.

elusvme
Reply

So true, law enforcement agencies will find a way to spin a situation. As a law enforcement professional (in a county w/over 9 million people) I see it occurring far to often.

elusvme
Reply

T.J. I am glad you have decided to blog about your incident. I must say as a law enforcement professional it’s embarrasing but worthy of a discussion. I hope in your upcoming talk show you will address law enforcement issues in our communities. If so, I would love to assist you in this endeavor…. I’m here for you.

Fifi
Reply

TJ, sorry for your bad experience about one of the many broken systems we are still dealing with in the 21st century but I am glad that you brought it up to the public. This is not really raising any awareness because as you and us know America has been dealing with it in so many different ways but experience like this is worth sharing especially coming from someone like you, an unbias newsman. Thank you for sharing,

iBernard
Reply

And, Mr. TJ Holmes, where were YOU at Grace Jones’ Hallowe’en Hurricane at The Roseland Ballroom this past Saturday night. You missed the ultimate Diva…partying, not performing! Super-glad great things area happening for you. Followed you from Day 1 on CNN, and had a coronary when you left. Thank God for electronic media! Buena suerte, hermano! -iBernard

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