This has to be the feel-good story of the week!
I think now I have seen it all. A white newspaper “fake news” reporter from Missouri has set off a barrage of controversy after he published a fake opinion piece last month attacking Missouri sheriff’s deputies for pulling him over after he made multiple traffic violations.
According to Bill Clark’s column, he was pulled over for failing to signal at a stop sign, which he does often. That in its self is not news, but since the mainstream media now makes up news we all can imagine what happened next. Clark went on to write that he was lucky he didn’t get shot and that his very life seemed to be in danger during the traffic stop. He then continued on to write that he now feels like he fully understands what minorities go through when stopped by police. Huh?
Ol’ Clark has run-in with the law
After over three million miles of driving and using my turn signals religiously, Ol’ Clark was pulled over for not signaling a right turn, giving me a chance to better understand how minority motorists feel when they are pulled over for the most trivial reason, or no reason at all.
Here’s Ol’ Clark’s story.
The intersection of Grace Lane and Lake of the Woods Road carries a heavy traffic load to major subdivisions all the way south to highway 63. Cars on Grace Lane can go either left or right at Lake of the Woods, where traffic does not stop. It can be a very dangerous corner.
On one recent evening, I left my gym half a block south of the intersection and, upon reaching the stop sign, I stopped and remarked to myself that I couldn’t believe there was no traffic in either direction. There was only a car a block behind me.
My stop had been total, not rolling. I turned right and headed toward Interstate 70. Within 100 yards, red lights flashed behind me, seeming to come from nowhere. I pulled over to allow an emergency vehicle to pass, stopping in the intersection with Bull Run Drive. Then I realized the lights were for me.
I was now blocking traffic onto Bull Run, so I rolled slowly forward to a shoulder wide enough for both vehicles. The move made sense.
I’m lucky I didn’t get shot. Sirens wailed and when I stopped, two officers were out of the sheriff’s vehicle. When I reached over to turn off the radio and then take my wallet out of my pocket to produce the driver’s license and insurance card, I realized my hands were not at the top of my steering wheel. Danger lurked and official arrogance was to follow.
I had no idea why I had been stopped. I rolled down the window and when the sheriff’s deputy approached, my question was, “Why am I being stopped?”
“Because you didn’t use your turn signal back at Grace Lane.” And she added, “And you don’t move your vehicle when we stop you.”
“Hey, I was blocking a major intersection because I thought you were an emergency vehicle and traffic couldn’t move.” No answer.
After surrendering my license and insurance card, here came the lecture while the second officer stood guard. Then I asked the question: “I normally am very good about using my turn signal,” I said, realizing that the deputy had probably heard that excuse too many times before. “Tell me, just how did that infraction interfere with the flow of traffic since there was no one except you behind me? How did I endanger others? What did I do to compromise the safety of others and the flow of traffic?”
The answer, “You didn’t use your turn signal. If you don’t agree, plead “not guilty.”
Why bother? It would be me against two officers. If they said, “no turn signal,” the cost of the ticket would be increased. I said: “Give me the ticket. If you say I’m guilty, I’ll be guilty.” I felt a warning would have been sufficient.
Now I’m charged with a moving violation, though I was stopped, by the deputy’s admission. I have no idea what the fine will be because there is no listed fine for not using the turn signal. I had to call the fine collection center in Jefferson City. The service agent there couldn’t tell me the fine because they had not received a copy of the ticket a week later. You tell me how this operates.
Now a note for the deputy and her standby partner. I was not wearing a seat belt at the time and that is a more serious offense. And, when the two officers turned off their red lights and pulled back into traffic on Lake of the Woods Road, they did not turn on their left turn signal to let traffic know they were changing from the shoulder to the right traffic lane. Whatever fine I pay should be less than what these sheriff’s deputies should pay. I was at least stopped when I allegedly violated.
I can fully understand how easy it is for police to make random stops. I have a rear bumper full of liberal bumper stickers and a dent. My car is old, with 425,000 miles, which probably makes me an aging hippie with a weed habit. So why not pull me over?
I’ve just come to appreciate even more the words of those minorities when they speak of harassment and police arrogance. I had a good dose of arrogance on this evening and, in my rear view mirror, the image of the second officer out of the car, his hands ready in case I made the wrong move. My life seemed to be in danger.
I fully understand how a person can lose their respect for law officers. When you are in the shoes of the minority, you learn a lot more about their journey.
Bill Clark’s columns appear Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Reach him at 474-4510.
The day after Clark’s column was published, Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey saw the column and began questioning Ol’ Clark’s claims by writing a response to Clark’s lies. He wrote, in response to the column, that the Boone County Sheriff’s Department’s motto is “treat people like you would like your mother to be treated.” But in a move that completely rendered Clark’s narrative a complete lie, the Sheriff added a dashcam video of the incident.
In the video above you can clearly see Clark’s car roll through the stop sign and then turn right without signaling. The officer’s car then signals Clark to pull over as he goes through another intersection. The officer’s car siren sounds briefly before Clark’s car comes to a complete stop. The deputy then gets out of his squad car and the rest seems like your typical routine traffic violation stop without any controversy whatsoever.