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  • Florida Traffic Stop

    Heated Florida Traffic Stop Sparks Protest

    Updated: May 19th, 2006 11:33 AM EDT

    Sarasota Herald-Tribune

    PUNTA GORDA -- Chants condemning the behavior of a police officer could be heard within the police station Wednesday evening as about 50 people marched outside.

    The chief of police left before the crowd was finished voicing complaints.

    Chief Chuck Rinehart refused to comment, but he has ordered an internal investigation into an arrest that has raised ire within the east Punta Gorda community.

    "Even though the police represent authority, that authority cannot be misused and abused," resident James Moore said.

    Denise V. Gates, a Punta Gorda Middle School teacher, was arrested May 10 and charged with two counts of resisting an officer without violence.

    According to the police arrest report, Officer Jason Hilden clocked Gates, 31, driving 47 mph in a 30 mph zone. He activated his emergency lights and conducted a traffic stop at the Cooper Street Recreation Center.

    Gates approached the officer, cursed at him and said "You are only stopping me because you see a black woman driving a Nissan Pathfinder," according to the report. She refused to give the officer her driver's license and vehicle information, and walked away from him when he repeatedly asked her to stop.

    Hilden followed Gates into the recreation center and grabbed her arm when she turned toward him "aggressively," the report states.

    Gates began to tense up and hide her hands and arms, so the officer could not handcuff her.

    After being warned that additional force would be used if necessary, Gates continued to resist, according to the report. Hilden knocked Gates to the ground with a leg sweep.

    On Wednesday, a lone Punta Gorda resident stood apart from the crowd, quietly holding a sign supporting the officer's actions.

    Gary Marler's sign read: "A highly educated teacher should know to obey a police officer. 47 minus 30 equals a ticket -- if you drive a Nissan or a Volkswagen. Way to go Punta Gorda Police Department."
    But Gates' attorney, H. Andrew Fritsch, said his client disagrees with some of the statements in the police report. Gates maintains that she was not speeding and never swore at the officer.

    Gates also did not believe the officer had the right to touch her arm, Fritsch said.

    In addition, he said, the officer did not announce that he was placing Gates under arrest at that point.

    "She believed she did nothing wrong and wanted to go to her Bible study," Fritsch said. "We think it could have been handled differently."

    The crowd, which included toddlers, teenagers and much older adults, gathered to make sure the police listen to Gates' side of the story, said Isaac Thomas, pastor of St. Mary's Primitive Baptist Church.

    The police need to admit the officer used excessive force, he said.

    While carrying posters stating "Crime While Driving Black" and "Police Brutality Must End," the demonstrators chanted "We want justice!" and "Protect our women!"

    Leonard White, 52, said the officer had no reason to knock Gates to the ground and rough her up. "If I handled my wife like that, they would put me in jail," he said.

    Gates thanked the community for coming out to support her but refused further comment.

    Thomas led the group in a prayer that the charges against Gates to be dropped.

    "We're not mad with anyone," he said. "We just want to have due respect. It's different justice for different neighborhoods.

    "If nothing is done, City Hall will be the next place we gather."

    Sorry if this has been posted already. Anybody else tired of the DWB excuse?

  • #2
    One question: do they have in car video? That should answer almost all questions.
    The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
    Ronald Reagan


    • #3
      Originally posted by edg103
      One question: do they have in car video? That should answer almost all questions.

      Yeah and I would side with the officers first, especially after the Cynthia McKinney circus. Her legacy will be that it's OK for women to break the law, as long as they are black. I am sick of crap like this.


      • #4
        Wow--I wonder if that's the same woman I encountered up here in a Meijer's parking lot...

        I'm walking into the store, she's loading groceries into her trunk--she finishes and just gives the cart a shove! I grab it before it hits someone else's car and say to the lady--"That's not very nice, you wouldn't want someone to put a dent in your car with one of these carts would you?"

        When I come back to my truck there's a note on it. She accused me of being racist--if she was white I never would have said anything to her, blah blah blah--she took my plate and was going to call the police and file a complaint against me for racial harrassment....blah blah blah! It never occurred to me that she was black--I noticed she was black, but other than that I never gave her race a second thought. What occurred to me when she gave the cart a shove to have it careen through the parking lot was that she was lazy and inconsiderate. (And I hate coming out of the store to find dents on my car!!!!)

        That officer pulled her over because she was speeding. She accused him of being racist. How will THAT reflect on this officer's job--if they make him a big enough story--everytime he pulls someone over who just happens to be of another race that will be thrown in his face. How effective can he be as an officer?


        • #5
          Sounds like another bullsh&t complaint. After the Cynthia McKinney incident, and the apparent lack of action on the part of the authorities to deal with her, I almost expect to see more of this crap than before.

          After all, if a Congresswoman can get away with it, it definitely gives other people the idea it's okay.
          "Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince" - Unknown Author

          "That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." - Thomas Jefferson

          “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” - John Adams


          • #6
            Amazing. Let's see. Officer said you are doing 47, Officer has radar/laser. If you think Officer is wrong, that is what court is for. Officer says to stay where you are, Officer says if you do not he will have to use additional force. Officer uses said force to effect arrest. Officer is correct.
            In law enforcement, the customer is ALWAYS wrong.

            In God we trust. Everyone else is run through NCIC.

            Sometimes there is justice. Sometimes there is just us.

            I'd rather be tried by 12 then carried by 6.

            The opinions given in my posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only.


            • #7
              Everyone has said what I would have, so I don't know what else to add. Except here there was a lady stopped for an obscured plate (front or back one I don't know which) and they found dope in the car, etc. I believe the lawyer was playing the race card and such. I don't know what ever happened in the case. Our paper has stuff plastered across the pages for weeks it seems, then if there is a result in a case it is usually in the back of the paper by the non-existant job adverts.
              "Excuse me, can you help me? I'm a spy! "--Doctor Who

              "I'm running this monkey farm now Frankenstein, and I want to know what it is you're doing with my time?!"--Captain Rhodes


              • #8
                Whatever happened to respect authority???

                When did it become ok to yell at anyone in the first place in public (meaning the women yelling at the officer)?

                Why is this woman teaching children in a public school system??

                when will people get over race and stop playing the "oh poor me" card??

                Seriously, I'm so tired of issues like this. I'm sorry that you all have to deal with cases such as this, and am glad that most of you have the patience to deal with such idiotic people!!!
                "When I close my eyes.....I'll see you on the other side....!!!"

                Hate to put it this way skippy, buy every night I suit up and climb in the cruiser I'm at war. I'm always outnumbered, potentially out gunned and always behind enemy lines.


                • #9
                  Let's hope the DA has the balls to let it go to court and not drop the charges due to "public sentiment". People seem to have forgotten that they are responsible for their actions and that skin color does not get them an automatic free ride.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by OFK
                    Yeah and I would side with the officers first, especially after the Cynthia McKinney circus. Her legacy will be that it's OK for women to break the law, as long as they are black. I am sick of crap like this.
                    NOTHING MORE TO ADD^^ Nothing more we can do but keep doing our jobs, or NOT.

                    I got nothing for now


                    • #11
                      This is just another example when the race card is played, I can recall recently Officers at the US Capital had a similar encounter, the race card was attempted to be played once again. In both cases, the individual should have complied with the request of the LE Officer.


                      • #12

                        1. You get pulled over and the officer has PC (speed measurement reading) to effect a traffic stop.

                        2. Officer politely asks for your license and registration (or proof of insurance, if required).

                        3. You hand it to him - a smile or polite behavior is optional.

                        4. He explains why he stopped you and what the infraction was.

                        5. The next course of action depends upon your behavior. You may, if lucky, get a warning. Otherwise, you're getting a summons/citation and a court date. Should you decide to get an "attitude" about the whole thing, the officer is well within his/her rights to effect a custodial arrest and take you for a visit to the local magistrate. What this woman did was clearly a way to experience the latter scenario.

                        "She believed she did nothing wrong and wanted to go to her Bible study," Fritsch said. "We think it could have been handled differently."
                        6. Religion -- Often the last refuge of a scoundrel. When someone attempts to use their faith (or what they want you to think is faith) or piety, they lose several points. Ever notice how the most evil-minded people will always find a way to bring God, Jesus or Allah into the equation at the drop of a hat?

                        7. I guess the "race card" will get played if the spiritual one won't work.

                        8. Letting her go without any charges will just send a message to the community that you don't have to obey lawful orders from a police officer who happens to be of a different ethnicity.

                        The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

                        The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.


                        "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."


                        • #13
                          Well there are two sides to every story, and while I am sure the officer is correct, I'm not making any judgements...

                          What a dumb bitch. Hahahahahahahahahaha, I'm glad she got tossed.[/


                          • #14
                            How stupid must these people believe we are. Now-adays its practically expected to have more trouble if you stop a person of a different race because everybody(regardless of race), plays the race card. I know guys that have just stopped stopping black people, or wont stop people in black areas because they know its going to be a headache.
                            Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.
                            Thomas Jefferson

                            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
                            Albert Einstein


                            • #15
                              How many cases are there of a white subject and a black officer?

                              Just wondering.

                              We are the thin blue line
                              between you
                              and all the money in the world.

                              And no you can't have any.


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