Written by: Nathan Cox
Edited by Meg McLain & Chris Staples
On Memorial Day weekend,May 26th, I was coming home from a side-job I had picked up. Quickly noticed that Interstate 295 was being HEAVILY Policed by State Troopers. Here is my initial CELL PHONE Video):
“I passed 3 state troopers just 50 meters from the Pole Green Road Exit on 295. They were conducting a traffic stop, funny thing was, 2 of them were conducting the stop, while a third was on the opposite shoulder. As I drove by one of the cops stared me, or my vehicle down. The next thing I knew one of those cops came up fast behind me while I was still on the phone. She moved over the adjacent lane and proceeded to pass me, just enough to see my State Inspection sticker which expired March 1. Then she pulled behind me and blue lighted me. She came up to my door, opened the door and aggressively asked to get out of the car. After I complied and stepped out of my car, she had her hands all over me trying to prevent me from recording her. After I signed the tickets she claimed my muffler sounded loud (it’s a stock muffler on a 08 civic Si). As I tried to capture some video of all the cruisers that came to the scene, she threatened me with a citation for being a “pedestrian on the highway” you can see that in the next video. 3 more cops came to the scene. The entire stop was not caught on MY phone because one of the male cops turned my phone upside down when they noticed it filming. I’m hoping to get the dashboard cam via FOIA after the criminal charges are dealt with.”
After going to court about this, I was able to get the inspection sticker citation dismissed but was found “guilty” on the charge “Failure to Display Front License Plate”. Following these court proceedings over these charges, I filed an official complaint with the Virginia State Police concerning the aggressive nature of State Trooper McKenney. I also filed a Freedom Of Information Act Request in hopes to obtain Trooper McKenney’s Dashboard Camera, as well as any other communication about me via, phone, text, email and radio. Also, I tried to recover previous complaints Trooper McKenney may have received, but was denied that request.
Approximately August 22nd I received the FOIA Request Package from the Virginia State Police. After reviewing the information we received, being the Dashboard Camera and text messages that was sent to/received from McKenney validated my account of what happened and provides enough evidence that could make a case for a 4th Amendment Rights Violation. If you have not yet seen MY video of the traffic stop yet, you can watch the video here and you will notice at the 7:27 mark someone violates my 4th Amendment Rights by trespassing against my property (My Phone). As well as a short clip here of trying to get footage of the cop cars after recovering my phone, she then threatened to cite me for “being a pedestrian on a highway”.
What you’ve been waiting for – State Trooper McKenney’s Dashboard Camera:
Points of Interest/ Concern:
- At approximately the 1:20 mark Trooper McKenney approaches my car and proceeds to open my door; within a second or two of her opening my door, “Driver Perspective”.
- At approximately the 1:50 mark Trooper McKenney begins to prevent me from recording her by trying to grab my smart-phone, claims it could be a gun at the 2:30 mark.
- At approximately 2:50 mark in the video I comply and put my phone while recording against the spoiler on my car point towards the front of her car, while telling her I am still recording, she replies “That’s fine.”
- At approximately the 3:22 mark, she continues her refusal of me recording her all while saying it could be a gun, and she has no problem recording her saying “You can record all you want”.
*NOTE* The TIME of 3:36pm was written on both citations – noted for purposes of Text Message time-frame. The Text Message that Trooper McKenney sent/ received begin to play on the bottom of the screen in chronological order beginning around the 3:48 minute mark in the video. (All text messages appear to be sent/ received after completion of the traffic stop)
- At approximately the 5:02 mark she is alerted by her computer that I have a concealed weapons permit.
- At approximately the 6:05 mark she finally admits it’s a phone (but then says she doesn’t know what it is), but refuses to let me record her. I point out she is the one with a gun on her hip and that my firearm is not on me. Question: Do Police officers have the “legal right” to disarm individuals they encounter? Maybe only in the case of someone being detained/ arrested? Why is an individual likely required to be disarmed and not the police officer? It’s the police who’ve proved to be over-aggressive, liars, thieves, murderers, incompetent, inept, violent, etc and there our thousands of videos on YouTube to prove it. It’s the police who need to be disarmed and given maybe a rubber-band gun as a replacement.
- At Approximately the 6:50 mark three more State Troopers arrive.
- At approximately the 7:25 mark she finally finishes explaining why she pulls me over – and I ask her to show me a victim.
- At approximately the 8:00 mark I again make a plea to retain my smart-phone, so I can record the scene, request denied. “You don’t have a right to your property on a traffic stop”.
- At approximately the 8:40 mark she attempts to get me to incriminate myself by hoping I’d say I wasn’t wearing my seat belt – I didn’t intentionally did not answer her.
- At approximately the 9:00 mark trooper McKenney Trespasses against my property (smart-phone) and lays my phone down on my car camera facing the sky – Seen in my video here. I initially thought my phone was touched by one of the Troopers guarding me. I pleaded with them off and on through the length of the detainment to allow me to retain my property because it was 100+ degrees that day and I was in fear that a combination of the direct sunlight & heated metal of my car would damage my phone. They refused to let me obtain my property or even move my property to a safer location and even said they weren’t responsible for it if it ended up getting damaged by the heat.
- At approximately the 10:10 mark one of the Troopers approaches McKenney’s vehicle and questions her about the stop and makes first mention of CopBlock.org
- At approximately the 10:48 mark she acknowledges I was recording to her colleague and said, “I asked him to get out of the car and he puts a camera in my face” and goes on to say “I don’t want myself on any type of YouTube or whatever.” (She knew very well it wasn’t a weapon and simply did not want to be recorded. Public Servants like her self have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
- At approximately the 11:14 mark another Trooper approaches her car to let her know I’m “from the online Cop Block thing”.
- At approximately the 11:55 mark Trooper McKenney explains to colleague that I was wanting to retain my phone to record the scene, she goes on to say, “I don’t want his cell phone in my face, it could be a gun.” (Maybe that’s why there are so many “accidental” shootings?)
- At approximately the 12:10 mark McKenney’s colleague says, “he calls for a supervisor every time he gets pulled over” (That’s not true first of all, secondly that proves he’s seen the VCU traffic stop video).
- At approximately the 16:06 mark The officer who had been sneering at me began attempting to search the inside of my car. He peered into the windows, walked around the car, even tried to get in it at one point. What is the purpose of this search? Who knows. I made it very clear I was not giving anyone consent to search my car.
- At approximately the 20:09 mark Trooper McKenney continues to try and find reasons to extort more money from me (for doing no harm to anyone life, liberty or property).
- At approximately the 25:28 mark she finally gets out of her car to give me the citations – colleague says “Be aware he may not sign.”
As you will see in the picture(s) provided, RE: Freedom of Information Act Request, each piece of information I requested was addressed in paragraph’s numbered 1-7. You’ll notice in paragraph 6 and 7 the information I requested any possible records concerning McKenney’s [history of] behavior or conduct. I was denied that information. Furthermore as you can see noted in paragraph 7 that there are a total of 806 “Public Records as of that date of your request, which are being withheld under this exemption”, the exemption being specifically, “Virginia Code Sections 2.2-3704 (B) (1), personnel records and/or complaints and internal and/or administrative investigative records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 2.2-3706 (F)(11)(ii) and the department is exercising its discretion not to release these records.”
My question is, why the secrecy? 806 “Public Records” are being withheld? Why is there a lack of transparency? Is it really a “public record” if the public can’t view it? This experience illustrates the issue of law enforcement or other government officials behaving without regard for the law. Preventing the release of public records allows some officials to behave like they are unaccountable and exempt from the law.
Also, included in the pictures is the TEXT MESSAGES transcripts Trooper McKenney and her colleagues were sending/ receiving after the stop about me. A couple of the message in particular concern me. From Officer with Badge # 881, “THIS WAS THE SAME REASON HE GOT PULLED AT VCU”. That is a FALSE. I was pulled over for saying, “Stop harassing people, we pay your pay checks.” Another concerning text message says, “NEED TO LET THE JUDGE KNOW ABOUT THAT GUY”.
These types of statements are serious red flags. We’re supposed to have a “fair” Judicial System, but instead you have the police, judges and prosecutors all working on the same team and collaborating together to ruin people’s lives. 1. There are 2.1 MILLION people caged up in a Prison or in Jail, awaiting trial. The U.S has about 5% of the WORLD population but yet 25% of the world’s PRISON POPULATION. Nonviolent “Offenders” make up more than 60 percent of the prison and jail population. Nonviolent drug offenders now account for about one-fourth of all inmates, up from less than 10 percent in 1980. And maybe THE MOST concerning text message out of them all, “YEAH I AM GONNA GIVE YOU ALL DETAILS AND HE LIVES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF 360 FROM ME SO YOU CAN BET THAT I WILL HAVE NO PROBLEM STOPPING HIM AGAIN IF HE DOESN’T CORRECT IT…. EVERY 24 HOURS HE CAN GET A TICKET FOR IT.”
Sure enough I’ve been cited for it again since then by a Hanover Deputy, I go to court for that in October with some great defense techniques up my sleeve. Can’t forget the “YOU GO GIRL” TO END THE TRANSMISSION OF TEXTS SENT/ RECEIVED. Have Police forgotten whom they work for and whom they are supposed to serve and protect? I believe they have, and here is a wonderful message to law enforcement & military personnel all across the world. We live in a world in which are “legislators” have literally criminalized us alland the Police have a duty to use their common sense, conscious and discretion when choosing which laws to enforce.
Lastly you will see the receipt of my FOIA Request, in order to get my “public records”, I had to pay $80.13. You will see it itemized on the receipt, $73.99 being towards, “research and copying of public documents”. Although I disagree with being charged that much, specifically because that is their job, to provide information when FOIA Requests are submitted. Apparently that is some how not covered using the money that’s taxpayers pay to provide their salaries, vehicles, computers, guns, tanks and other toys.
In the end, I regret putting down my phone during the traffic stop. I understand that I might have been arrested or cited for some offence like “Failure to Obey a Lawful Order”. No individual has any idea how a police stop will end, but I know that I have a right to record the actions of a public official, and I know that it is unreasonable that the officer would have mistaken my phone for a weapon. Had the officer honestly believed the phone was a weapon, I would have been made to lie prone on the pavement in order to search my person and my car. This officer overreacted, a mistake that could result in the needless injury or death of someone during a future stop. I recommend that the officer be retrained to prevent a future, possibly dangerous, mistake. Ultimately, it is my hope that everyone, especially “law enforcement” embrace the Non-Aggression Principle, that no one has the right to initiate force against anyone else. I challenge anyone who has taken an oath that police and military take,which I took when I enlisted in the Army in 2006, to visit the Oath Keepers website to learn more about the standards expect of people who wear the uniform.