This video of a San Bernardino police officer circling and confronting a woman hiking in the desert has raised the anger of many about the increasing intrusion of police surveillance and operations. The officer lands his helicopter and confronts the woman without any evidence of reasonable suspicion, let alone probable cause.
The video shows the officer circling over the woman and shining its light at her. He then confronts her and demands to know what she is doing. She is polite and friendly, explaining “just exploring and picking up rocks.” The officer then demands her ID, which she does not have, and takes down her name and date of birth. He then makes her wait while he runs her name through the police computer. The only explanation the officer gives the woman for being detained is that “We’re investigating something right now.” It is not clear why that investigation would involve checking to see if there was anything he could arrest her on.
Even after she is cleared, the officer demands to know if she has any weapons and tells her “don’t put your hands in your pockets.” He then searches her without a scintilla of reasonable suspicion.
The assumption is that the officer was part of the search for Christopher Dorner on January 24th. Given the recent shooting of two women by the LAPD looking for Dorner, she might have to consider herself lucky to have only been delayed.
By the way, landing a helicopter near a road in the middle of an field brings a host of risks of its own. Yet, this officer thought that a woman hiking was sufficient justification for the confrontation.