A website has posted an extraordinary video (below) showing not only the abusive treatment of a citizen by border and local police, but highly compelling evidence of a false police report by a driver to cover up his own illegal turn that caused an accident in New York City. The driver, Ted, had installed a Timetec Roadhawk Dashcam out of fear of unlawful traffic stops. It was a fortuitous decision because it would capture what he says was a false charge and abusive treatment by law enforcement officers — following by a false police report. By the way, the postings report this as a Border Police vehicle but it appears a van from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The video clearly shows Ted driving with a green light through the intersection. It also later shows (from the opposite direction) a sign clearly prohibiting a left turn from opposing traffic. A federal van makes an illegal turn against the light and slams into Ted’s car. What follows is unbelievable. The video shows not only Ted crossing with a green light but the irate behavior of the federal officer who runs to his car and starts screaming “Didn’t you see the light? Did you not see the light?” Ted appears a bit dazed. The local police then arrive and reportedly take the side of the federal officer and accuse Ted of running a red light. All of the passengers in the van — presumably all federal officers — confirmed that false account. An allegedly uniform collection of false accounts from law enforcement officers.
Ted went home and discovered that his dash cam clearly captured the true story, though there is a difference of opinion over what it shows. The police report (shown on Dashspin) following the accident clearly appears to blame him with the accident: “van was westbound on Rockaway making a left turn southbound onto Farmers Blvd states thought all Eastbound traffic stopped for vehicle’s turret lights and red light at intersection.” (emphasis added) First of all, this account ignores the sign prohibiting a left turn, though as discussed below there is an alternative account. Second, the officer appears to take the federal officers’ accounts as gospel and implicates the private citizen.
The videotape shows the importance of such devices in combating police abuse. We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue. The video contradiction of the police account is all too familiar on this blog. Of course, in Dallas, Dallas Police Chief David Brown revealed a new policy that would require officers involved in a shooting to wait 72 hours before making a statement. The policy came after a scandal where a surveillance video showed one of Brown’s officers shooting a mentally ill suspect for no apparent reason. The video contradicted the officer’s testimony and undermined the charge against the victim. Brown’s solution was not greater disciplining and monitoring of officers but to impose a delay to allow officers to craft their statements.
Update: our own Darren Smith, who has experience in this area, has offered an alternative view that the van was in fact using a siren and the officer’s reference about the light could have been to the van emergency strobe light. As a federal van, it could have been turning left in an emergency run. The local officer obviously did not see the accident in making the report. Here is what Darren added to the debate:
The van is a federal law enforcement vehicle as authorized by federal regulations. Federal regulations pre-empt state laws with regard to this. The statute authorizing emergency vehicles in NY is applicable only to state, county, or local law enforcement vehicles. It does not have jurisdiction over federal vehicles.
While others have pointed out that blue lights are not considered in NY to be authorized emergency vehicle lighting, the van was utilizing a siren. Additionally, though it might seem petty, the following does comply with NY law on the van. The blue and green lights in the actual statute apply to volunteer EMS personnel and yes those are considered non-emergency vehicles.
The law providess that Red and White lights are indicative of an authorized emergency vehilce. Here is another video capture of the van just prior to the stop. Note the arrow shows a flashing white “sweep light” that is used to provide additional visibility at 45 degree angles to the lightbar.
I found another image of the crashed van, it has been hooked up by a tow vehicle to pull it back to its wheels. Note the arrow on this image. This points to a mounted red grill light that has been disloged and is still operating. The angle of the van just prior to the crash in the video obscures this light due to the angle of the van. Here is the image
Darren makes some very interesting points in the comments. I still have my reservations about the accusation of the federal officers, but here is the video for you to judge for yourself.