St Louis video vigilante still catching cops behaving badly

Jefferson City Criminal AttorneyIn a 2007 post, I reported the story of a 20 year old kid who was approached and bullied by a St Louis area police officer who mistakenly thought his gun and badge gave him an edge over the young driver. The driver, Brett Darrow, turned out to carrying even more powerful tools: video recording equipment. Many believed he set the cop up. I do too, but it was an honest sting that would never come off unless a bully cop decided to target Mr. Darrow.

Brett had done nothing wrong. He was polite, but not intimidated. The cop’s threats were arrogant and buffoonish, obviously meant to school Brett as to who was the master and who was the servant, but in the end the life lesson belonged mostly to the officer. Thanks to the miracle of electronics  there were the usual tens of thousands of witnesses on YouTube.

Here’s my original post and a link to the story as picked up by CNN:

20 year old to Police: I’m watching you

Almost three years have passed and recently Brett was stopped at a DWI checkpoint. Disappointingly, he did not have his video up and running, but he did manage to audio record until the St Louis County police took his phone away and stopped the recording.  Here is the audio:

Audio of Darrow car stop and phone confiscation

Missouri Cops Harass Video Vigilante A Third Time

It is astonishing how stupid it is to forcibly stop a person recording an encounter with police if they are not interfering. Think about it. The only weapon a police officer has in a courtroom is the truth. The recording is the truth.

The stories that defendants tell about police misconduct are usually dismissed as self-serving lies (unless, of course, it turns out to be on video).  Clearly, a police officer is inviting a jury to dis-believe him once they see how afraid he is of a recording. A good cop is not afraid, but whether good or bad, he might as well assume that he is going to get recorded on video/audio.

Practical note: Mr Darrow is a very savvy fellow in dealing with police. His recordings are very instructive: He is polite, but never gives out information that is nobody else’s business. He says: “I don’t wish to discuss my personal life with you, Officer” and “I don’t want to answer any more questions. Am I free to go?” You cannot imagine Brett Darrow agreeing to a vehicle search. This guy could be giving classes.

Tasing the young, the old, the weak and the handicapped.

While taser use continues to kill people here and there, the most common abuses tend toward simple electronic attitude adjustment of people who apparently did not get the memo about bandying words with a cop. The variety of people who dare to differ with a police officer is fascinating: children, old ladies, pregnant women. Here are a just a few that have appeared recently. Don’t miss the last one!

* * *

Let’s start with this pathetic deaf guy who was taking too long to use the toilet in a public restroom. They called the police.

The police–as always–demanded his identification.

Being deaf, however, he had trouble understanding all the commotion over his using the toilet. So . . . they tased him. Here it is:

Like the man said, “We were worried about his well-being and we want this man to be able to trust the police.”  So we broke into his stall while he was taking a dump, tased and maced him.

* * *

This next one shows mom getting tased in front of the kids. She should have stayed in the car. This one is a great example of the principle that if the cop–however foolishly–says you are under arrest, then by heaven, no power can change it. The law enforcement principle here seems to be that if the motorist is upset, the cop’s job is not to de-escalate the situation, but instead to bring it to a boil . . . and use his taser. 

It seems this mom was having trouble with her 14 year old daughter and brought her to the police station “to get help” but the girl ran out to a nearby park, where the police chief caught up with her and tased her in the head and the probe went into her BRAIN. Here you go:

In this one, the police break up a kids family baptism party. Too noisy they said. They tased the grandfather who was “disorderly” and didn’t identify himself in his own backyard. Then they tased a pregnant mother who tried to help Grandpa when he went down.

Here is a tiny great-grandmother getting tased. She is a mouthy one. I can honestly say I’ve known a few cops who could have avoided tasing her, but not many.

Finally, this last one is not for the squeamish. I guess it’s easy to second guess decisions that officers have only seconds to make. You be the judge:

OK, just kidding.

Come back with a warrant