Missouri – It’s the latest in the narrative fueling the negative attitude toward police across the country, making every day heroes out to be racist bigots.
In St. Louis, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner (who is black) was pulled over for driving without headlights on. Simply to “intimidate” and harass her. Never mind the fact that it was dark out and no one could see who she was prior to pulling her over. Or the fact that she was, you know, breaking the law and driving in an unsafe manner.
“I was stopped for no lights but held for more than 15 minutes,” Gardner said. “I still don’t know the reason why.”
Convenient that this person, a Circuit Attorney, who is familiar with laws particularly as they pertain to police officers used the number 15 as her benchmark for complaint.
Here’s why that sparks my interest: The Supreme Court has upheld that officers may detain drivers for a “reasonable” amount of time during traffic stops. That “reasonable” standard has generally been described by courts as “about 15 minutes.”
Gardner was already in the process of suing the City and the police for racism. She used that benchmark number knowing that that’s what would get the attention of the courts.
Surveillance footage of the traffic stop, however, is not consistent with Gardner’s claim. A local news station, KMOV4, obtained real time surveillance of the contact and reported the stop, in its entirety, was just over 6 minutes long.
To include the time spent dealing with one of Gardner’s coworkers who showed up on scene and engaged with the officer.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association Fraternal Order of Police business manager Jeff Roorda said that the officer conducting the stop didn’t realize Gardner was the driver of the vehicle in question.
Additionally, Roorda said, “One of her investigators interfered with the traffic stop, tried to intimidate the officer. I would have arrested him. You can’t just show up and interfere with a traffic stop.”
News 4 Investigates the December traffic stop between @SLMPD & @stlcao. Kim Gardner claimed she was held for over 15 minutes. Video shows the stop lasted just over 6 minutes. We continue to ask Gardner for an on camera interview. @kmov https://t.co/6ZBMwXWOBT
— Chris Nagus (@ChrisNagusKMOV) January 22, 2020
KMOV4 reached out to attempt an interview with Gardner and received the following statement from her office:
“Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner disputes the facts shared by the police and police union in regards to being pulled over on December 24.
“The events of the night in question are worthy of serious attention, and as such, we will not address Mr. Roorda’s incorrect account of what transpired. We will note that Mr. Roorda’s dismissive attitude and willingness to publicly comment on such a matter without taking the time to gather credible information regarding the events is unfortunate. This serves as yet another example of the biased rhetoric that made legal action necessary against the SLPOA police union.”
Gardner’s incorrect timeline of the incident as well as the incorrect date of the incident (her office’s first email said the incident was on the 23rd, but they later sent a second email correcting the date to the 24th; surveillance footage and police say it was actually on the 23rd) begs the question of her sobriety as well as her sanity, which was already in question.
The events of the night in question are worthy of serious attention, and as such, we will not address Mr. Roorda’s incorrect account of what transpired. https://t.co/riRn5mb2eL
— Circuit Attorney (@stlcao) January 22, 2020
Gardner is standing by her racism claim despite the facts presented to her after the fact. In Gardner’s words, she has since filed an “unprecedented federal civil rights lawsuit.” In it, she accuses the City, the police union, Roorda, and several other players of a “coordinated and racist conspiracy” to force her out of office. Gardner has said that she has the support of other “progressive” prosecutors.
Gardner claims in her lawsuit that the City has a “long history of racial inequality and prejudice in its criminal justice system generally, and within its police force particularly.”
Gardner says that she was elected to correct the racism, but the police and other named parties “have mobilized to thwart these efforts,” including “the unprecedented appointment of a white, ethically conflicted Special Prosecutor.”
Gardner continued, “The Ku Klux Klan Act [of 1871] was adopted to address precisely this scenario: a racially motivated conspiracy to deny the civil rights of racial minorities by obstructing a government official’s efforts to ensure equal justice under law for all.
“This is about the will of the people being silenced by a concerted effort to stop reform in the city of St. Louis, and this has to be addressed. This is saying, ‘No more are we going to let the powerful few who want to hold onto the status quo prevent an elected prosecutor from doing her job.’”
I told you her sanity was in question.
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Roorda, who is also a former police officer and state legislature, reiterated that the officer did everything correctly during the incident. He also said that the officer “would stop anyone driving without lights on.”
“She should have been thanking the cop,” Officer Roorda said, “not trying to bulldoze them.”
The St. Louis POA FOP released a statement about the lawsuit, which said, “This is a prosecutor who has declared war on crime victims and the police officers sworn to protect them. She’s turned murderers and other violent criminals loose to prey on St. Louis’s most vulnerable citizens and has time and time again, falsely accused police of wrongdoing. The streets of this city have become ‘the Killing Fields’ as the direct result of Gardner’s actions and inaction.”
The FOP said the suit is “frivolous and without merit,” and also said it is the “last act of a desperate woman.”
The union again stated that Gardner should step down or be removed from office “through any lawful means available.”
When asked how he felt about Gardner talking about the officer and the incident publicly in this manner, Roorda said, “She’s not talking about it publicly. She’s lying about it publicly.”