Trooper Suspended Over Conduct During Traffic Stop
Most law enforcement authorities do their best to treat people fairly and respectfully while upholding the law. Sometimes, however, authorities make bad judgment calls or behave inappropriately. This risk was recently illustrated when a South Carolina state trooper was suspended over his behavior during a traffic stop involving an NFL lineman and former LSU Tigers star DE Sam Montgomery.
Trooper’s Behavior Found Questionable
The trooper pulled the man over because he had allegedly been driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit. A police dashboard camera video recorded the arrest. The video shows that the man tried to follow the instructions that the trooper shouted. However, the trooper accused the man of being uncooperative and threatened to use a Taser.
The driver carefully responded that he was trying to cooperate and did not want trouble. He was subsequently arrested, since South Carolina law allows arrests when drivers exceed the speed limit by 25 mph. The man was taken to jail and released the next day.
The trooper was later suspended, pending a review of the traffic stop. A statement released about the stop indicates that, although the trooper was within his rights to make the stop, his conduct — namely, shouting and threatening to Taser the man — fell below professional standards.
This incident calls attention to the risk of overreactions by authorities. It also reminds drivers of the importance of cooperating, regardless of the circumstances. If the lineman had become angry or defensive when the officer shouted and threatened force, the situation could have escalated quickly. Since the man remained calm, he saw a more favorable outcome.
Cooperation Is Crucial During Stops
Once the lineman was handcuffed and inside the trooper’s vehicle, the trooper’s behavior became more reasonable. When the lineman told the trooper that he would accept responsibility and pay the full fine, the trooper offered to work with him on his ticket. The trooper also told the lineman that he could benefit from taking the following steps:
- Show up to traffic court
- Ask for a reduction in fines
- Request that fewer points be added to his license
Many drivers do not realize that arresting officers in South Carolina prosecute the tickets they write. This means cooperative drivers have a better chance of getting their sanctions reduced, while drivers who react poorly during a traffic stop are more likely to face full penalties.
Cooperation may not always be enough to win reduced penalties, which is why complying during the stop and fighting your ticket afterward is a smart strategy. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP, we can help you understand the relevant laws and determine the best means of handling your ticket. We will take every possible step to defend your rights and reduce the penalties that you face.
If you have received a traffic ticket and aren’t sure what to do next, please call us today for a complimentary discussion of your case.
New York Daily News, “South Carolina Highway Trooper Threatens to use Taser on Bengals’ Sam Montgomery During Traffic Stop,” Associated Press, July 1, 2014.