“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.
To be continued …