Dayton police today released the video of a traffic stop that led a local judge to throw out evidence in the case against the driver because the judge said the video showed officers “staged” the reason for pulling him over.
The driver, Calvin Wilson, faces gun charges after a pistol was found on the driver’s side floorboard, though Wilson’s prior convictions prohibit him from possessing a firearm. Cash and drugs were also found in the car — the video captures Wilson admitting to officers he had marijuana in the car.
But Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Steven Dankof ordered that none of this can be submitted as evidence against Wilson because the reasons for the stop were contrived. Prosecutors are appealing that decision.
The video shows it was raining on Oct. 1, 2016, when Wilson pulled his vehicle on the road some distance in front of the officers.
It wasn’t until a minute later when the cruiser pulled behind Wilson at a light and officers noted the vehicle had Pennsylvania plates — it was a rental — that they began vocalizing that Wilson cut them off.
They pulled him over and, after telling him he cut them off — to which he apologized — they asked what was in a container in his car, and Wilson said it was marijuana. They put Wilson into the police cruiser and searched the vehicle.
While Wilson was in the back of the police cruiser, police officers talking among themselves noted he had a valid driver’s license.
“Yeah, he’s valid,” an officer said. “I was just as surprised by that.”
Dankof’s court order says that comment “suggests racial profiling.”
While in the back of the cruiser, Wilson apologetically tells officers he uses marijuana, but says he doesn’t sell it. He claimed the gun was not his.
“I was convicted back in 2004. My life’s been alright since then,” he said while in the police cruiser.
Dayton police respond
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl issued a statement Wednesday saying his department is “gathering all evidence related to this incident both from the courts and internally in order to do complete and thorough review.”
“However, to form an opinion on this matter before it is resolved through the court would be imprudent and premature,” he said.
“We recognize the great trust the public bestows on us to conduct ourselves at all times with professionalism and integrity and we remain steadfast in this commitment that every contact we make in our community be done with respect and fairness.”
Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward, however, said he has been urging Dayton police since 2008 to initiate ongoing diversity training for its officers.
“Racial profiling and those things do exist withing our law enforcement departments and until our law enforcement departments rid their agencies of those kinds of people, this kind of thing will surface from time to time,” Foward said.
“It’s a culture that exists within the police department that’s hard to break down,” he said. “They need to invest in their people to have ongoing diversity training.”
Dayton faced another high-profile incident involving alleged “racial profiling” in 2015 when a police officer told a suspect — who was black — that he was followed because he made “direct eye contact.” The driver recorded video on his cell phone, which went viral.
The officer was cleared last year after an internal investigation found the officer had cause to pull over the driver because he didn’t signal 100 feet prior to making a turn.
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