TAYLOR, Mich – The ACLU is asking for an investigation on a traffic stop in Taylor that is seen on dashcam video turning violent. The traffic stop also just became the subject of an internal investigation at the Taylor Police Department.
The driver was defiant during the traffic stop, but was the officer’s response justifiable?
The stop in question happened in April of 2016. Calvin Jones, 26, reportedly refused to hand over his driver’s license and registration upon request, which he’s required to do by law.
The video starts with the traffic stop and the officer approaching the vehicle. He approaches the driver and asks for his license. The man responds and asks what he’s being pulled over for. The officer explains that he would tell him “once I know who I’m talking to”.
For the next three minutes, the officer speaks with Jones while standing outside the car. The officer radios in and calls the driver an “uncooperative occupant”.
Jones can be heard on the dashcam video saying he won’t hand over his ID until the officers tells him why he was pulled over.
“Here’s the deal – either give me your ID or go to jail,” the officer responds.
The officer can then be seen breaking open a window and, with the help of three other officers, pulling Jones from his car. Jones reportedly blacked out after being put in a chokehold during the arrest.
“There law enforcement professionals who suggest that, in a situation like that, the officer does not have to win the debate,” says ACLU Attorney Mark Fancher. “If the officer had told Mr. Jones at the outset, ‘I stopped you because I saw you run a stop sign, – that would’ve eliminated the entire discussion.”
It could have also possibly prevented the ending.
“If you look at the force continuum, you’re allowed to use the level of force necessary to overcome whatever resistance you have to arrest,” says former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee. FOX 2 showed him the dashcam videos.
Godbee says the officer had grounds to make the stop and to question Jones, but could – and should – have avoided the violent ending.
“Did he go too far? I think most reasonable people would say, from a policy standpoint, there’s an opportunity for some training,” Godbee says. “Simply, if the policy was, just advise the gentleman what he’s being stopped for – we’re trained in verbal judo, how to de-escalate situations. Just because something is legal to do doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do.”
Jones’s brother-in-law was also arrested, and so was his wife. She pleaded with Jones to comply with the officer’s demands and was recording the incident with her cell phone when police told her to hand it over. She tossed the phone instead.
“That mere act should not, at least from our perspective, result in the arrest of someone who was trying to cooperate with police,” says Fancher.
Fancher says Jones, after being taken into custody, was made to strip to his underwear and was then put in a holding cell.
“He says that, at some point, he was made to lie face down on the floor; that the air conditioning was turned down to a very low temperature and that he on his own decided to get up off the floor, but was still left in his underwear for an extended period of time,” Fancher says.
Taylor Police Chief, Mary Sclabassi, released a statement saying:
“We have just received this complaint today. We take all complaints seriously. A thorough and diligent investigation will be conducted. We will refrain from commenting until the investigation is complete.”
The criminal charges against Jones and his wife were dismissed in January of 2017, and then the ACLU got on the case before eventually filing the complaint.
No word yet on how long the internal investigation may take.