“When I went to traffic school for that citation, the instructor confirmed my instincts. “When you’re stopped, I’d strongly advise you not to talk back,” he said with a smug grin. “If you do, any cop can find five or 10 things to write you up for.”
Sandra Bland probably understood the nature of this reality. She cooperated with the Texas state trooper who pulled her over for her trivial failure to signal a lane change on a mostly empty street.
But when she failed to grovel sufficiently, he demanded an explanation—and didn’t like the one he got. Soon he was angrily yanking her out of the car, taking her to the ground and handcuffing her. Why did the confrontation escalate out of control? Not because Bland violated the laws of Texas, but because the cop felt unconstrained by them.
. . . .
The only reason police brutality has come to light via video cameras is that some officers are so used to committing it that they never dream of being held to account.
It’s no secret that they can and do get away with lying. A prosecutor I know once marveled at how often motorists leave illegal drugs on the front seat, where they can be easily spotted by police during stops. His implication was that the cops conduct illegal searches and afterward invent stories to make them appear legal.
. . . .
The officer who stopped Bland knew a dashboard camera was recording him—yet he proceeded to flip out.
He acted on a view that too many cops have and that civilians learn at their peril: The police are obligated to enforce the law, not obey the law. ”