Written by Gregory Monte.
All’s well that ends well…
While I grant that there is some truth to this well-known saying, the problem is that much pain can be inflicted before the actual ending arrives. More importantly, who is to say that the actual ending – “justice” – really serves to erase or diminish the pain in any sense at all? The story that I relate in this blog post definitely ended well, but the woman who was sexually assaulted at the hands of a rogue police officer after a routine traffic stop surely still lives with the trauma of the event.
Conduct Unbecoming of a Police Officer (or anyone else for that matter)
All quotes that follow are taken from Pierson v. State, 824 SE 2d 657 – Ga: Court of Appeals 2019.
Back in February of 2016, a woman was driving southbound on Georgia Route 85 on her way to meeting a friend for lunch. A Sheriff’s Officer on the other side of the road determined that she was speeding and so turned around and pulled her over. After producing her driver licence, both she and the officer …
“…began ‘flirting’ with one another; V. C. admitted at trial that she flirted with the Appellant because she hoped it would help her avoid a speeding ticket.”
I am pretty sure that this type of scenario plays out fairly often to some degree or other. But I don’t imagine that what the officer said next happens with as much frequency – at least I sure hope not because it is highly irregular:
“After a few minutes, the Appellant wrote up a warning citation, but did not give it to V. C. at that time. When he told V. C. that he was going to give her a warning instead of a ticket, he said that he had not told her sooner because he wanted to make her “sweat a little bit[.]“
Talk about unprofessional conduct – but it gets much worse.
“As the Appellant and V. C. continued to flirt, V. C. realized that her seatbelt had pulled her shirt down so that the Appellant was able to see down her shirt, and she adjusted her seatbelt to correct the problem. The Appellant responded by telling her that he might have to change the warning citation to a speeding ticket.”
You can’t make this stuff up – although it does almost sound like something you would see in a Hollywood movie (or maybe in some XXX cop fantasy video).
Unfortunately, it didn’t end there.
A Flirt Too Far
“After flirting with V. C. a bit more, the [Officer] suggested that V. C. drive a little way up the highway and turn right onto the first side road. The Appellant then ended Traffic Stop 1 by giving V. C. a warning citation for speeding and returning her driver’s license.”
At this point, the woman obviously realized that she had gone one flirt too far.
“As she was driving away, V. C. saw the side road the Appellant had told her to turn onto, but she intentionally drove past it and continued driving south on the highway.”
But the asshole cop didn’t give up. He pulled her over again a second time, turned off his dash cam recorder and pressured her onto another side road. Even though she locked herself inside the car, the cop eventually convinced her to roll down the driver side window in order to speak with her – bad move, as it turns out.
“After talking to V. C. for a few minutes, the [Officer] suddenly reached through her car window, grabbed her arm, unlocked the car door, pulled the door open, and tried to pull her out of the car. V. C. resisted and tried to stay in her car, but the Appellant … convinced her to walk with him to his patrol car so they could talk. While the Appellant and V. C. were talking in front of the patrol car, the Appellant suddenly grabbed V. C. and forced her to perform oral sex on him.”
Know Your Rights
The officer was clearly a predator and a piece of shit, but the lesson here is that motorists need to understand their rights when pulled over. The victim in this case clearly knew that something was up because when stopped the second time, she rolled down her window and asked:
“[W]hy the hell did you pull me over this time[?]”
But when the cop continued to pressure her, she complied despite her gut reservation that something was not quite right:
“Although uncertain about what she was supposed to do under these circumstances, V. C. believed she had to obey the Appellant’s directions, so she followed the Appellant as he drove down the side road and around a corner”
By law, there are very few things that a cop is allowed to do when you are pulled over for a typical traffic stop like speeding. These “ordinary inquiries incident to [the traffic] stop:” are:
- Check the driver license
- Inspect the registration
- Verify insurance
- Determine if there are outstanding warrants
In fact, you are so well protected by the Fourth Amendment that you can’t even be arrested for giving a cop the finger and cursing at him if you want to – Can a Cop Pull You Over for Cursing?
In any case, the purpose of the Traffic Ticket Defense Blog is to inform as many people as possible about their rights when it comes to the motor vehicle code. Clearly in this case, a “penny” of information was worth more than the “pound” of cure that had to occur for this victim to get justice. If you are interested in learning more about my defense strategies, check out the three free PDF’s listed below.