Van Full Of Federal Officers Reportedly Accuse Driver Of Causing Collision . . . Dashcam Shows Clearly That Van Caused Accident

CBP_BadgeA 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.

cbp-crash-white-lightUpdate: 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.

60 thoughts on “Van Full Of Federal Officers Reportedly Accuse Driver Of Causing Collision . . . Dashcam Shows Clearly That Van Caused Accident”

  1. It should be said “rear-view visibility systems” ..otherwise known as back-up or rear view cameras(back -up as in operating your vehicle in reverse)are not the same as dash cameras. They typically come on only when you throw the vehicle in reverse. Even if you hard wire the camera to be on at all times…. they are not designed or equipped to record. They allow the driver to see what’s behind them by viewing a monitor. By the same token..dash cams are not typically designed to be used as a viewing aid. Dash cams are made for recording. Rear view cams are made for monitoring. If you want to record the action behind you then simply install another dash cam in the rear.

  2. I am quite disappointed in this posting from Prof. Turley. He is making inflammatory statements as fact which are not in evidence. There were no charges filed. There was no harrasment. There was no lie told. The short section of the police report cited merely outlines what each of the drivers reported: i.e. the van driver “thought” the light had turned red, the car driver had a green light.
    By the way, the web site he links to as the source is “Dealspin,” a site for advertising a bunch of overpriced and useless services and merchandise. I am assuming if the good professor had researched this on a more reliable site there would have been a link to it.

    1. Thinking the traffic light was red has no relevance as the van was not legally an emergency vehicle and was subject to all traffic laws including no left turn.

  3. Darren

    Please provide evidence in support of your blanket assertion appearing below that mere federal regulations trump State law in this traffic matter:

    “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”

    Even if your assertion is correct which I find highly improbable in this matter, the driver of the non-federal vehicle still broke no state, county or local traffic law since according to your analysis the federal vehicle isn’t covered by state, county or local laws.

    While you’re at it, could you also point us to what federal court would have jurisdiction to hear charges against a non-federal vehicle driver who’s involved in a collision with a federal vehicle who’s federally employed driver was ignoring state, county or local traffic regulations along a state, county or local road while turning into a state, county or local intersection against a working state, county or local traffic light and against posted state, county or local traffic signs?

    Professor Turley, U.S. Border Patrol agents are part of Customs and Border Protection under the Department of Homeland Security.

  4. Darren said:

    “It is not considered lying if the person states they “thought” something occurred and are mistaken. In fact it is a true statement when describing what the person is thinking.”

    Sorry, the “I thought…” tactic doesnt work with cops for private citizens, why should it work for the feds? I was driving on a road one night going 45mph, because the speed limit was 45. About 3 minutes later a cop pulled me over and gave me a ticket for going 45 in a 25. I told him I THOUGHT the speed limit was 45. He said it’s 25. I told him I saw no 25mph sign. Later it was discovered the 25mph sign was bent/twisted so that it wasnt facing the road so drivers could see it. They fixed the sign but I was still charged. So, the “I thought” strategy doesnt work for us peons.

  5. Darren said:

    “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.”

    What’s this mean? Does this mean if a federal vehicle had to rush to a scene in an emergency, then could run over people if they were in the way? You’re basically already saying they could ignore the “no left turn” sign…what else can they ignore?

  6. Simms said:

    “However, Ted could use a course in defensive driving. The cars in the left two lanes saw the van and were able to stop. Ted began to speed up just before the light even though he should have seen the other cars stopping. If I see other cars stopping, I wonder why. If Ted was paying attention, he should have been able to stop. He still would have had his video showing the van running the light and making an illegal turn.”

    What a stupid comment. The two other cars could see the van because nothing was obstructing their view of that side of the road. Ted’s view was obstructed BY the two cars!!

  7. Darren’s analysis has me leaning towards the U.S. Customs,
    as not at fault. It would be interesting if U.S. Customs
    commanders can backup the emergency mission.

    Example: Instead, FED’s had emergency lights on, but were going
    to a shopping center to buy hot dogs, smokes, and lottery tickets.

  8. @ Randyjet, “There were at least five other drivers going the same way as the car driver who DID slow and stop on the green light!”

    And not a single one of those drivers in similar circumstances to the car driver. You seem to be ignoring the fact that all those other drivers either had a direct line of sight to the van or were behind a vehicle that was braking, so of course they stopped. The car driver’s line of sight to the van was blocked unlike those other SUVs and cars you are referring to, and those vehicles did not brake until one or two seconds before the accident giving the car driver very little chance to have avoided the accident. Perhaps an extremely alert driver would have picked up on it and been able to stop, but the negligence standard is just ordinary care. Different circumstances, different results.

    @ Darren, I completely agree with you that even if the “red light” the accident report refers to is the traffic signal as I surmise, it is a huge leap from that to accusing the van driver of lying. As you note, the van driver could have just been mistaken. Also, it is not uncommon for the investigating officer to make a mistake in his report. The investigating officer may have simply misunderstood what he was being told or assumed the traffic light was red. While I think the van is likely most at fault for the accident, I’m skeptical this is a case of police misconduct.

    1. Waldo, there were three other lanes that had STOPPED at a GREEN light. Now most rational people would take that as a BIG red flag alert. If that had been an ambulance that this fool hit, I doubt that any person here would even think of taking the car drivers side in this, but BP and other Federal agents seem to be fair game here and lesser beings. Just because a pedestrian is in the cross walk and you have a green light does NOT mean the pedestrian is legal game to hit. The FACT is that this car driver needs at least some drivers education and needs a citation to back it up.

    1. The car driver has been blogging his experience. He has made a couple comments worth noting. There was not a red light on the van and his auto insurance has found him not at fault. No word yet on if the state found him at fault.

    2. The blogger also stated that the flashing lights were Blue and White and at no time were there red lights on the van. He never mentions the siren but you can hear a siren after the crash faintly. The Lexus auto ( LS ) is amazingly quiet, When they first came out, a common comment was you could not tell if the engine was running,

  9. Pete:

    I think in that case both drivers are going to suffer their hands smacked with a stick by The Penguin.

    1. Darren, your analysis of this case is incredible. I added some of it to the post so people do not miss it and get the other side of the debate. Thanks again. I am off now to hike on Billy Goat trail with the rising sun! It is a bit cold (44 degrees) but the view cannot be beat.

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