Police have released a dashcam video of a July 15 traffic stop in response to accusations that an officer racially profiled the driver and occupants of a car (video below).
“3 black nurses with bachelor degrees and Master degrees were standing at the side of the road for an hour being harassed. Continuously being accused of stuff this officer was making up in his head!” Ciera Calhoun posted on her Facebook page, according to The Kansas City Star.
Theses (sic) police officers had their hands on their guns the whole time I tell you. I can honestly say I don’t feel safe around police officers at all. I didn’t care for police before, But now I can say I hate them to the core of me. I felt so offended. Never received an apology… felt manly harassing three females,” Calhoun wrote.
However, the dashcam video that the Lee’s Summit Police Department released proved that all of Calhoun’s allegations were false.
Her Facebook posts have since been removed, The Kansas City Star reported.
Calhoun’s entire interaction with the police department lasted a total of 21 minutes, and the dashcam video showed that the officer was perfectly polite and professional in all of his interactions with her.
Lee’s Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes called racial profiling a “serious allegation.”
“Biased-based policing is prohibited. We look into any complaints about this very seriously,” Chief Forbes told The Kansas City Star.
The chief said the department started an investigation into Calhoun’s allegations as soon as they became aware of her Facebook post, and quickly learned that her accusations were not based in fact.
The incident began at about midnight when officers pulled over a car for driving without having headlights on near Northeast Douglas Street and Tudor Road, The Kansas City Star reported.
After the officer initiated a traffic stop, the dashcam video showed a plastic bag flew at the police car. It appeared to have come from the vehicle he was stopping.
The video showed the officer stopped the car, and approached it. He explained why he had stopped them.
Calhoun, the driver of the car, told the officer she was driving a rental car and wasn’t familiar with it. She said her personal vehicle had automatic lights, The Kansas City Star reported.
Calhoun denied knowledge of any plastic bag coming from her car.
The officer took her information back to his patrol unit to check, and on the video, he said he didn’t smell anything in the car and that the plastic bag could have blown up from the roadway.
However, Calhoun had given the officer consent to search her rental car, and so he did. By this point, two other officers had arrived on the scene.
Lee’s Summit Police Sergeant Chris Depue told The Kansas City Star said there was nothing “sinister or nefarious” about the officer searching Calhoun’s vehicle.
Sgt. Depue said he’d never skipped an opportunity to do a consent search on a vehicle he had stopped, and that in his opinion, the officer was simply taking every precaution when he initiated the search of Calhoun’s vehicle.
During the search, officers found something they believed might be marijuana, so they field-tested it to see if it contained THC. It did not.
In the video, the officer can be heard explaining his process to Calhoun.
Throughout her exchange with the officer, Calhoun remained polite – even sweet.
The officer calmly explained the two warnings that he was giving to Calhoun.
“Alright, cool,” Calhoun said when he was finished.
“Do you have any questions about why I did what I did?” the officer asked her on the video.
“No, I’m straight,” she replied on the video.
“Okay, you guys are free to go,” the officer told her.
It turned out that the warning the officer gave Calhoun for driving in Missouri on a Texas license while the computer showed her Missouri license was expired was incorrect, but that was a training matter and not a profiling issue, Sgt. Depue said.
Calhoun complained to The Kansas City Star that a captain from the Lee’s Summit police had called her and asked her to take down her Facebook post because it was “derogatory.”
“Her post is derogatory,” Sgt. Depue told The Kansas City Star in an email, and added that if Calhoun “insists on sticking by her allegations, it will be our plan to not only release the video of the stop, (but to) refute her allegations and release the screenshots of her Facebook posts that she has now taken down.”
“We don’t want to be ugly about this but she is making a serious allegation that is simply not true and we will show the public the entire body of evidence regarding the stop,” he said.
The post has since been removed from Calhoun’s page, but she has continued to insist she was racially profiled.
“If I was cordial, why did he feel like he needed to have his hand on his gun?” Calhoun asked.
She complained that all she wanted was an apology. Our question is, what for?
Lee’s Summit Police Captain Brian Wilson said the officer who conducted the traffic stop has been on the department for five years and has never had a racial profiling complaint lodged against him, The Kansas City Star reported.
Sgt. Depue said all the officers on the force are trained annually on bias-based policing.
“It is a mandatory training for all sworn staff that is done each year,” the sergeant said.
You can see the video of the traffic stop below.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
July 30th, 2018