Brett Darrow is one of those individuals who believe in police accountability and doesn’t take kindly to police officers who abuse their authority while hiding behind a gun and a badge. To protect himself from such abuse, Darrow outfitted his vehicle with an in-car camera system several years ago after learning first-hand how some cops have no qualms with fabricating falsehoods to justify otherwise illegal enforcement actions.
I previously wrote about Darrow in 2007 after several run-ins with local law enforcement which were luckily caught on tape:
In the first incident, Darrow was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. When the stopping officer asked Darrow where he was going, Darrow told the officer he didn’t want to discuss his personal travel itinerary with the officer. Darrow’s decision to exercise his rights angered the officer enough that he demanded Darrow get out of his vehicle absent any reason to believe he had been drinking, the alleged reason for the checkpoint in the first place:
In another incident several months later, Darrow was approached by an officer while he was lawfully parked in a parking lot minding his own business. The officer demanded to see his ID and Darrow asked him why he needed to see it if he wasn’t breaking any laws. This so enraged the officer that he demanded Darrow get out of the car where the officer yelled & berated him for over 15 minutes while making threats that he’d trump up charges against Darrow to justify an arrest. The officer’s tirade was caught on tape and after it was posted online, the officer ended up being fired:
After Darrow released the tape publicly, Missouri police officers began staking out Darrow’s home and several online posts from police officers threatened to harass Darrow with one poster going so far as to threaten to murder him:
The news articles appearing above were the last I heard of Darrow until May of this year. Coming full circle, Darrow was caught up in another one of those alleged sobriety checkpoints but this time he was in a friend’s car so didn’t have his camera system ready to go. He did have a cell phone however with recording capability and turned it on after entering the checkpoint.
The stopping officer copped an attitude with Brett almost from the get-go even though Darrow complied with a demand to see his license and answered the officers questions regarding whether or not he had been drinking. When the officer spotted the cell phone in the car, he demanded that Darrow give it to him. Darrow refused to turn his cell phone over to him which prompted the officer to illegally reach into the open window and seize it (one reason why I advocate never rolling your window all the way down while being detained absent probable cause at a checkpoint).
A news article of the encounter is available at:
Given these clear-cut examples of police harassment merely for exercising one’s rights while being detained absent reasonable suspicion, I note that two of the three encounters took place at suspicionless sobriety checkpoints where the officers had no reason to believe Darrow was intoxicated. In the first incident, the officer illegally extended Darrow’s detention absent consent or probable cause. In the second checkpoint incident, the officer not only illegally extended the detention but illegally seized private property as well.
Unfortunately these types of encounters are far more common than folks like to admit. Suspicionless checkpoints, regardless of their scope, just enable ethically challenged police officers to disregard the rights of the traveling public while doing little to protect us from drunk driving or other safety hazards on the road.
A recording of Darrow’s latest checkpoint encounter is available below along with a transcript of the recording:
Audio Transcript (compliments of The Newspaper.org):
Officer Lane: You got your driver’s license on you?
Brett: Yeah. [Hands license over]
Officer Lane: How much have you had to drink tonight?
Officer Lane: Nothing?
Officer Lane: Why are you in such a bad mood tonight Brett?
Brett: I don’t like being stopped.
Officer Lane: You don’t like being stopped?
Brett: I don’t want to answer any more questions. Am I free to go?
Officer Lane: No. Not until I tell you you are free to go. What is your problem Brett?
Brett: I told you I don’t want to answer any questions.
Officer Lane: Let me see your eyes.
Brett: Am I free to go?
Officer Lane: No, you are not free to go. Let me see your eyes.
Brett: Why do you need to see my eyes?
Officer Lane: Cause I’m asking to see your eyes. Turn your phone off
[Darrow moves phone from his lap to the center cup holder]
Officer Lane: Let me see your phone.
Officer Lane: Let me see your phone.
[Lane reaches in the car and grabs the phone]
Brett: Are you seizing my phone?
Officer Lane: Let me see your phone
Brett: Can I see a supervisor?
[Phone powered off]