A while back, Web and I got into it over tasers. One of the items of contention was this video:

Web and I both agree that the pastor is question is a jackass (even if we are not in precise agreement as to why). One of the difference seems to be, however, that when it comes to the enforcement of some crimes, including drugs, he is inclined to give police a greater amount of leeway in enforcing the law compared to, say, traffic stops, which represent infractions much less significant to public safety:

When it comes to dealing with violent criminals, illegal drug/personage smuggling, gang violence, or other things of that nature, though, we’re getting into a different area of law enforcement.

I hear him on that point. For better or worse, we call it a “war on drugs” for a reason. And unlike a lot of my contemporaries, I am not in favor of mass decriminalization. And while I believe that civil rights are important in the abstract, there’s no point in denying that I am less concerned with the crossed T’s, dotted I’s, and so on when it comes to a certain criminal element. At the same time, the spillover that occurs in attempting to identify those individuals from regular citizens represents a significant problem in cases when police officers are acting in good faith. Web has a good deal of skepticism towards Pastor Anderson. I share some skepticism, though I don’t believe nearly to the degree that he does. However, I do have a general skepticism of Arizona law enforcement. A skepticism, I should add, that pre-dates my learning of this incident.

Maybe my skepticism is warranted and maybe it is not. But there are a lot of reasons to have a degree of skepticism of law enforcement in general. I don’t believe that we should mistrust everything they say or do or automatically lend faith to people that make accusations against law enforcement. On the whole, I consider myself to be pro-cop. When a suspect says A and the cops say B, I am more inclined to believe B.

On two occasions I have actually let officers search my car. Once I did it because I was young and the notion that a cop wouldn’t be on the up-and-up hadn’t fully occurred to me. More recently because I got the sense that the cops were looking for someone in particular who was not me and I made the determination that the faster they realized that it was not me the better off everyone was going to be. Sure enough, they determined that I wasn’t the guy they were looking for and once they got over their curiosity of some brown powder in the back of my car, I was released thereafter.

However, there are parts of the country, including pockets of the south, Arizona, and Odessa, where I would not be so obliging. And there are some circumstances in which I wouldn’t trust cops anywhere because I might be worried that they were more concerned about finding something than whether or not I am actually somebody up to no good. Particularly in the age where highway departments can impound a car that they find drugs or a weapon in and the treasure goes to the department or their retirement fund. Even if you have faith in the court system to find you not guilty, they can still keep your car. I have to think that the vast majority of cops are above planting something, but I am to say the least unenthusiastic at wagering my livelihood that the cop I am dealing with isn’t an exception to the rule.

That brings me back to the Arizona checkpoint. On the whole, I am probably less inclined to assume the best at checkpoints. The motive and opportunity are there. They have to justify their existence, which means that if they don’t find people with drugs they could lose their funding. Further, if it’s a state that raises revenue off of forfeitures, that provides an additional motive. I believe (and want to believe) that the vast majority of cops have better motives than that. But if an officer was not above that sort of thing, checkpoints would provide the perfect opportunity to be below it. Catch a legitimate drug trafficker, put a little of the evidence off to the side, and plant it on the stud driving the Camaro that would bring in some serious cash at an auction. Or on the guy that just really looks suspicious. Or on the guy that’s way too cocky and disrespectful. Maybe I am just being way too paranoid here, but again, I’m not comfortable betting my livelihood that I am.

I act as though I have a choice. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t. If the cops say that the dog smelled something, either I get out of the car voluntarily or they force me out. In the event that they “find” something, I am going to be dealing with jurors like myself who is going to believe cops over some drug-carrying miscreant.

That’s why, despite sharing with Web a real distaste for Pastor Anderson, what happened to him makes me extremely uncomfortable. Maybe he had put some traces of drugs solely so he could make a movie. Maybe the dog smelled a ham sandwich. Maybe if he hadn’t been holding a camera or hadn’t been a jackass they would have let him through. But while any of these things could be the case, they really don’t have to be. It’s a corrupt cop’s dream. And there is very little recourse if you happen to be the chump that they’re going to make an example of.

Of course, at the same time we have to have at least some faith in the cops for the system to work. If the cop says he saw A and the suspect says B happened and we always believe B and there is no hard evidence either way, the result could be making their jobs nearly impossible. Cops would be the only people in front of whom it would be safe to commit a crime.

I’m not sure what the solution to this dilemma is. One of the things that law enforcement has been doing more and more of is taping their interactions. This has the potential to be a win-win because when people make bogus claims against the cops they can immediately show them to be bogus. Likewise, in cases where there is actual abuse, we’re not left giving all benefit of the doubt to the officers if there is video tape. And just by knowing that they’re being taped, it makes abuse less likely to begin with. Another thing that would make me more comfortable is if there was an independent witness that I was allowed to call. Someone that could watch the cops searching my car and make sure that everything is on the up-and-up and if everything is not could testify to that effect. But having something to avoid being railroaded by corrupt cops would make me a lot less uncomfortable with what happened to Anderson and make me identify less with people that charge police misconduct during drug searches.


Category: Courthouse

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31 Responses to “Step Out Of Your Car, Sir”

  1. web says:

    Your points are valid, but the Pastor is a singularly lousy case for the discussion. If you don’t mind I’m going to go point by point.

    Point #1: By the time his video starts, we are (based on police report and his own admission of the amount of surveillance video he received for his legal defense) well into the conflict. The patrol checkpoint have actually had enough time to call for backup and have it arrive (more than an hour!). I submit that this shows that the police are actually being extremely cautious about the situation.

    Point #2: The police report files that a drug dog alerted. From this point on the police have the all-important probable cause to demand to search the vehicle without a warrant. At this point, the Pastor is without a legal right to refuse the search.

    Point #2a: Nowhere that I have been able to find, in any state, gives a person the right to demand a “retry” on a drug dog check, e.g. what the Pastor has been sitting in his car demanding.

    Point #3: The police ALWAYS have the right to lawfully order the driver and passenger(s) of a vehicle in a traffic stop to exit the vehicle. Supreme Court, cases Pennsylvania v. Mimms and Maryland v. Wilson.

    Point #4: from the point when he is (a) apprised that a drug dog has alerted and probable cause to search the vehicle exists, and (b) informed that the police were giving him a direct order to vacate the vehicle, he is guilty of failure to obey a lawful order. The police are within their rights to place him under arrest for this.

    Point #5: From the point when he is informed he is under arrest (apparently before he started filming, but repeated on-camera) for failure to obey a lawful order, he is guilty of resisting arrest.

    Point #6: The police, far from being “brutal” about anything, seem remarkably sedate and calm. Here’s a guy who has control of a 1+-ton piece of machinery. They have informed him he’s under arrest, and now have to apprehend him. They calmly inform him that if he doesn’t obey orders, they will have to break the window. They inform him to close his eyes to prevent injury. Despite all this, it looks an awful lot like he hooks an arm into the steering wheel to further resist arrest, and it’s obvious from the way they had to pull him from the vehicle that even after tasing, he was still actively resisting being removed from the vehicle.

    The “nightmare scenarios” the cops have to deal with in this scenario are:
    – What if there’s a concealed weapon?
    – What if he actively starts kicking out through the window?
    – What if he starts/drives the car forward, potentially running over or dragging an officer?

    We went over it on the advantages of pre-emptive tasing last time, and I thought we had a good conclusion. My ending statement will be simply this: except for a situation in which drugs/guns were found in the vehicle (and there’s no reason not to think that the drug dog didn’t alert on a sniff of something Pastor Anderson or someone else had done in the car previously), or in which the person was screaming anti-cop obscenities out of the car, Pastor Anderson is almost completely unsympathetic. He’s the Barry Cooper of resistance, with the added negative that his own video is proof enough to get him convicted of multiple (misdemeanor-level) crimes.

    The other problem is that his video only shows part of the story. We’re not given the traffic stop from start to finish to observe. He clips off the rest of the hour-plus of footage, presumably even the part that would show the drug dog check. That’s very odd given another of his videos. It starts off bad and ends up far worse, and it is obvious he’s taping the whole thing from the beginning, and equally likely that he taped the occasion you point to from the beginning and then tried to “trim out” the parts that aren’t nearly as favorable to him while he baits the officers.

    The more I learn about him, the more “Barry Cooper”-esque (in the sense of “wrong guy to be the face of his movement”) he is, particularly since he apparently makes a habit (or at least did before the tasering) of driving through and deliberately baiting checkpoints with erratic and confrontational behavior. Again, his behavior and history make it sound to me like there was indeed a drug alert from the dog, probably from someone else having had/used drugs in the car prior to the checkpoint stop.

  2. trumwill says:

    You keep focusing on what legal right the police had to do what they did. That’s beside the point. I’m not arguing that the police acted illegally. I’m saying that I’m disturbed by the amount of lattitude police have while acting legally. How much of the proof of probable cause can come down to the cops’ say-so (ie the dog’s reaction). We may celebrate when these tactics are used on slime such as Anderson, but they can just as easily be used by corrupt cops against somebody innocent. And you have no choice but to comply. If you don’t comply and you don’t have a camera (or even if you do), you will have one version and the cops will have another and who are the people going to believe?

    I may dislike Anderson, but when I look at the video and consider it, that’s somewhat overshadowed by the fact that Anderson is taking advantage of (or was put in) a position that I am uncomfortable with Americans being put in.

    The comparison with Cooper is a good one. Both are flawed individuals (Anderson much more than Cooper, I’d say), but both draw attention to (what I believe are) some greater flaws in the system.

  3. trumwill says:

    I should clarify something. When I talk about the legal things cops can do and then talk of corrupt cops in the same breath, it may seem contradictory. What I mean is: cops have a lot of legal latitude with which to carry out illegal activity. I’m not saying that the cops following the law are corrupt. What I’m saying is that the law requires us to put a good deal of faith in the cops, which helps corrupt and non-corrupt cops alike.

  4. trumwill says:

    Oh, and regarding tasing: I’m still on board with the conclusions that we came to last time. We didn’t come to a consensus on how worthwhile these checkpoints are and how comfortable we should be with them. I decided to file that part away for a later post (this one).

  5. web says:

    It’s easier to be sympathetic to Cooper (though he is far from respectable) than to Anderson. I think it comes down to one reason, for me. Cooper’s got videos and went after what he believed to be a known problem that he claims (from being in the line of work) to have personal knowledge of.

    Again, Cooper’s still not the kind of person you want in your movement.

    Anderson, on the other hand, has posted numerous other videos to the web wherein he essentially is “baiting” the checkpoints. They’re pretty hard to watch. Why, for this particular video, does he show only the last few minutes of a situation that lasted over an hour? That, more than anything, severely hurts his credibility. Well, that and what I know of the supposed “injuries” he points to, from the entertainment industry. If the police were to “rough him up” he’d have much more than a couple bruises and a couple of forehead lacerations (remember, forehead wounds *look* bad and bleed profusely because the skin is thinly stretched on the forehead with solid bone beneath, but as far as physical danger to the person, “almost none” is the answer).

    As regards the amount of latitude for the police – I love the idea of recording interactions. I think every cop car should be required to have a dashcam, and I think that checkpoints should be recording 4-5 different visual angles, with sound, of every pass-through location. On the other hand, the standard of probable cause exists. And there’s the arguments of the Supreme Court majority in the cases I mentioned earlier. If we remove the requirement that the citizens obey lawful orders of the police, it gets that much harder for the police to do their legitimate job.

    It is pretty likely to me that the drug dog alerted; the types Anderson hangs out with could easily have left enough of a trace of something to make the dog bark. It’s also possible that somewhere in the “missing” hour-plus portion of the tape, Anderson said something else to make the officers even more suspicious of him, or even more fearful that he would try something crazy/violent (like rev the car up and try to run the checkpoint).

    You see a possible cop overreach. I see a nutjob whose goal is to get himself into a fight with the police. Given his goal, the idea of cops “overreaching” by pulling him from the car is a bit hard to swallow.

  6. web says:

    I think this kind of runs back into our Badged Highwaymen series too.

    The public’s trust in police has been eroded in recent years. Whether it’s existing corruption coming to light, or new corruption because it’s harder and harder to get qualified individuals for the job (thus making the alternative, hiring less-qualified and less-upstanding individuals, happen), or simply an outgrowth of the 24-hour news cycle and entities like Youtube, I’m not sure.

    As I said when we discussed this, the worse cops behave at traffic stops, the worse they make it for all future cops that the stopped person has to interact with. Likewise, every time there’s a proven case or even an accusation (true or false, and plenty of people will “say anything” to try to beat the rap… though we are supposed to presume innocence, it’s hard to do for certain people, especially with prior drug/gang/whatever convictions on their record) and it gets enough media attention, it makes it harder for the public to trust cops.

    On the other hand, if we allow “I was worried he was a corrupt cop” as an excuse to disobey lawful orders (pull over car, exit vehicle, place hands on vehicle, Stop!) we get into a bad place whereby the cops can’t really do their jobs. And when we allow deliberate resisting of arrest, even worse. Anderson was informed he was under arrest, and he chose to force the cops into an option of either (a) letting him go or (b) forcibly removing him from the vehicle. Under law, once the cops had informed him he was under arrest, (a) wasn’t an option anymore.

  7. trumwill says:

    It is pretty likely to me that the drug dog alerted; the types Anderson hangs out with could easily have left enough of a trace of something to make the dog bark.

    I’d find this more likely with Cooper than Anderson. I’m not saying that the dog was not alerted with Anderson, but I don’t know how likely I found it. The cops themselves could have put this issue to rest by bringing the dog out again so that the camera could see it. Or, for that matter, with the security cameras pointed at the car, they could have released the security video of the dog alerting. I know that in the former case they are under no obligation to do so, but it would have helped them make their case from a PR perspective. It’s also possible that the cameras don’t turn on until there is an incident or they weren’t looking at the right thing at the right time to see the dog. I don’t take the lack of security footage of the dog as proof of anything, though it does make me wonder a bit.

    Sure, Anderson baited the police. That’s why I’ve suggested in the past that one possibility (though not a likely one) was that he put something in the car that he knew would get the dogs’ attention but wouldn’t be found in a search. But while this is possible, it’s speculation. Another possibility is that he was such an asshole to the cops that they were inclined to give him as hard a time as they could. (The fact that the cops were polite and methodical does not refute this. When you’re going to do something out-of-bounds, you want to do so in such a way as to seem respectable while doing so.) It’s not unlike an acquaintance of mine that yelled “oink, oink” out of a window at some cops. They followed him home and gave him five speeding infractions for every road that he went one mile an hour over the speed limit and an alleged “rolling stop”. The charges were dismissed, but he still had to hire a lawyer and take a day off school to address them.

    Just because the Supreme Court says something doesn’t mean I agree with it. I’m not saying that the cops acted unlawfully. I’m just saying that I would like the law to be altered. The same methods that may have been used completely in good faith here can be used by other cops elsewhere in very bad faith.

    Regarding how “threatened” the cops may have felt, that’s more for the taser discussion than this one. I’m not debating the taser so much as the events that lead up to it.

    That the cops would overreact to an assmunch is not remotely a stretch for me. I’d imagine that it’s kind of hard not to. I understand where the cop was coming from in the case of my friend above, but that doesn’t make it right.

    Ultimately, I really don’t care about Anderson himself. He’s not particularly deserving of sympathy. He has a lot of repugnant views. But just because he’s a publicity-seeking jackhole does not mean that he isn’t drawing attention to a significant issue here.

    You’re right that everything breaks down if people don’t follow the orders of cops under the assumption that they’re corrupt. On the other hand, they’re also sometimes corrupt. It’s the same the other way around. Some defenders of cops (not you) treat every accusation of alleged police misconduct (short of planting evidence) saying “But they put their lives on the line and everybody they deal with could be a threat to them.” And, of course, they sometimes are a threat.

    The question is to try to find some sort of way so that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from cops. Taking the cops at their word that a dog alerted and ordering someone out of their car so that it can be searched falls sort of that. I’m totally with you on the cameras. I’d also like to see some sort of way that a driver can contact a lawyer or independent observer before getting out of his car. Or something like that. If nothing else, that would provide the Kenneth Andersons of the world a lot less of an argument for cop overreach.

  8. trumwill says:

    I should also add that I dedicated a single paragraph to the Anderson incident. That’s not really what this is about. You could be completely right about the events that transpired. I’m not convinced that you’re wrong. But you could be wrong and I’m not convinced you’re right. It’s the latter scenario, and the fact that we just don’t know, that has me concerned. That’s what has me wondering how cooperative I would want to be and should have to be in the face of a law enforcement organization that I see as potentially corrupt. I don’t like the idea that I have absolutely no choice and that my freedom relies on the good faith of the police. Most of the time, that’s not a problem. The two times a cop has asked to search my car, I let them. But sometimes that can be a problem.

  9. trumwill says:

    And on one more note, my main concern about being pulled over by corrupt cops is not to be beat up like Anderson was. That wouldn’t happen to me because, among other things, I wouldn’t bait them and I would have gotten out of the car as I was legally required to.

    The main concern is that they would plant something in the car to boost their arrest record. Obviously, that’s not what these cops were up to. However, a cop that was up to that is given quite a bit of latitude to do so. In this case, we know that these cops wouldn’t do that. I don’t know, however, that the cops at a checkpoint that I am stopped at are not more fundamentally corrupt.

    I do know that in the event that I am at a checkpoint, I have the same set of rights that Anderson had, which is to say that I have the right to get out of the car or be forcibly removed from the car. Most of the time, I’m happy to do it. I just don’t like that I have absolutely no options in the event that the cops say a dog responded. That’s one of the main reasons that the Anderson video makes me uncomfortable. I wouldn’t have had a problem with the cops at that particular checkpoint (because they don’t plant contraband and I would have gotten out of the car)… except the overwhelming fear that they may “find” something in the car to justify their jobs or impound my car and its contents. And the knowledge that next time I might not be so lucky because the cops might be seriously corrupt.

  10. trumwill says:

    Sorry for piling on the comments, but we’re driving all the way to Arapaho today and I want to get my thoughts in before we hit the road.

    I wanted to add that I think that there is a 80-90% chance that the cops saw something that made them specifically suspicious of Anderson, though I’d only put the odds of that thing being a dog alert to be maybe 50-55%. So I guess there’s about a 10-20% chance that he was just rude to the cops and they wanted to teach him a lesson.

    But the only proof we have of a dog alert is the cops’ saying so. They could have fabricated that because they believed that Anderson really was hiding something. In other words, they may have been operating under the best of intentions. But it’s that latitude that puts me on edge, because even if these cops were acting with the best of intentions, not all cops are.

    But we can’t defer to one type of cop without deferring to the other. Nor can we use “But the guy is slime!” as a legally justifiable reason to make distinctions. Nor can we say “Oh, well he was disrespectful of the cops. What else could he expect?” because respect for badged authority should not be a legal requirement (this is not in reference to his refusal to get out of the car — it is a reference to any verbal disrespect before camera started rolling).

    At the risk of being repetitive (it’s my nature), we are afforded no more protections than Anderson is. When I consider the possibility that the cops in question may be aggressively corrupt (in a way that Anderson’s weren’t), I am not comfortable with that level of protection. That’s mostly what I’m getting at. I use Anderson as an example in part because he is an extreme and unsympathetic one.

    I hate the guy, but one of the things that comes to my mind when I watch the video is “Man, if I was at a checkpoint and the cops told me that a dog alerted to my car, it wouldn’t matter whether I saw it or not. Wouldn’t matter whether it was true or not. Wouldn’t even require that I broke the law to get their attention since it’s a checkpoint. That’s a corrupt cop’s paradise. That’s very disconcerting.” Anderson may be a despicable crackpot, but sometimes it takes a crackpot to show you something you hadn’t really seen or thought through before.

  11. web says:

    But the only proof we have of a dog alert is the cops’ saying so.

    The problem I have with this: Anderson HAS to have this on his own tape. Every other time he’s pulled up to bait a checkpoint (something that at least prior to this incident, he made a habit of), he has had his camera rolling the entire time. What makes this time different? Or more to the point, why is only this video cut down to such a tiny amount of time?

    Or, for that matter, with the security cameras pointed at the car, they could have released the security video of the dog alerting.

    Herein lies one of the major problems with videotape. The cops/prosecutors are actually NOT allowed to release the tape to the public prior to trial, lest they be accused of trying to “taint” the potential jury pool. Meanwhile, Anderson’s video is incredibly chopped down, which is very different from his other videos and makes me quite suspicious (the content isn’t what makes me suspicious half as much as the fact that it is a serious change in his pattern of behavior).

    So on the one hand, Anderson’s pimping a video missing most of the salient details we need to make a good decision, and on the other the cops are having to hold back so that they can ensure as fair a trial as possible. Not precisely a happy situation.

  12. trumwill says:

    But the trial is over. Anderson won. It didn’t even go to trial. It was dismissed with prejudice before it even got there. So they can’t try him for drugs (cause they didn’t find any) and they can’t try him for resisting arrest (double jeopardy). If they’re withholding a tape, it’s not to ensure a fair trial. Besides which, they’ve never claimed to have it on tape to begin with (and they *should* have Anderson’s entire tape in their possession).

    As for what Anderson did or did not tape in his previous encounters… where can I see the other videos with which to compare and contrast?

  13. web says:

    Found a spot that collates quite a bit on Anderson here: Link.

    Regarding the “trial”, it appears that Anderson had a lawyer who launched an incredible amount of “discovery” motions, that there was some form of other judicial issue going on.

    The actual “dismissal with prejudice” was because certain documents (which probably are not relevant to the case) were not turned over for discovery. Given the list from a radio interview (cannot find a PDF of the actual dismissal to confirm yet) it looks like a fishing expedition. In other words, Anderson went in to bait the checkpoint, got himself in over his head (either because the drug dog alerted or because he did something else egregious enough to justify probable cause for a search), compounded things by resisting arrest, and then got a shyster lawyer of the “traffic court” variety who wasted time sending the prosecutors out on wild-goose hunts for an absolute ton of “discovery” requests and then complained about wanting a “speedy” trial to the third judge in a row (first one recused, second one recused and dropped it on his subordinate while still exercising some control…). The third judge then said “case dismissed” because the pile of discovery requests weren’t all in yet and the “speedy trial” request was sitting around. It’s a classic slimeball lawyer tactic that only works in overloaded courts, but it worked this time.

    The other trick to this is that they’re not done. This was not random. Anderson, in the audio from his attorney, is an “activist” whose goal was to poke and prod some law enforcement officer at the checkpoints into doing something, and they’re now deliberately launching a “civil rights” lawsuit against the border patrol (even though the dismissal is something that never should have happened, he’s safe from any more-damning evidence against him turning up and looking to make some cash). Since that case is still pending, that explains why the police aren’t releasing their own video yet. Judges look REALLY unfavorably on law enforcement releasing videos related to an ongoing case and as long as Anderson’s got his “civil rights” suit filed it’s still an ongoing case.

  14. trumwill says:

    There is no ongoing criminal case. Civilly, their hands are no more tied than the plaintiffs and indeed PR surrounding a civil trial provides the perfect platform to release any evidence they might have. If you’re being sued, you have the right to defend yourself in the public forum. You’re really reaching, Web. You’re relying on evidence that they have never even claimed to have.

    If you can find the authorities saying that they have the alerted dog on video, I may reconsider. Anderson bet on camera that the dog wouldn’t respond when he invited the dog back out. He showed a degree of confidence that the dog did not or would not respond. I have seen no such confidence from the authorities. Does that mean that they are lying and Anderson is not? Doesn’t necessarily mean that. Prevents me from believing with rock-solid certainty that it’s the other way around, though.

    I’m also not sold on the anti-Anderson stuff you link to as it pertains to this discussion. I’ve never debated whether he baits the cops (he does). I’m debating whether it’s the case that he has a consistent track record of leaving his camera on an all times so that his failure to do so at the one in question is an aberration. We’ve got one other video, which does not constitute a pattern to break.

    Keep in mind, I’m placing the burden of proof on you because you’re the one claiming (relative) certainty on what happened. Someone claiming with certainty that the police must have fabricated the alert dog would similarly have a difficult burden to meet. I’m merely arguing that it’s possible either way.

  15. web says:

    Will,

    The rules are different for the cops. Absent someone filing a freedom-of-information request, they do NOT normally release surveillance or other recorded information without a significant amount of “through the right channels” work. Jurisdictions have gotten into a lot of trouble for that, much less the Border Patrol themselves.

    You’re really reaching, Web. You’re relying on evidence that they have never even claimed to have.

    I beg to differ. I think you’re the one reaching here. The surveillance camera is from an overhead-view, locked-placement camera. It sits there watching.

    Are you expecting me to believe that the camera was not recording the entire incident, from start to finish, and instead just magically turned on only for the precise moments that Anderson put on his video?

    Anderson bet on camera that the dog wouldn’t respond when he invited the dog back out. He showed a degree of confidence that the dog did not or would not respond.

    And given his status as an “activist” according to his own lawyer, it’s entirely possible that any result for a search that found nothing (triggering off either some leftover drug scent from someone having used drugs in the car at some point, or something else designed to get a dog to alert as you yourself posit earlier) would be used later to attack the credibility of all dogs used to sniff for drugs and hidden bodies.

    It’s been shown that Anderson knew a lot more than he lets on. This was no “innocent” stopping. He deliberately targeted the stop with the goal, this time, of getting himself arrested.

    I’m debating whether it’s the case that he has a consistent track record of leaving his camera on an all times so that his failure to do so at the one in question is an aberration.

    From the link I posted earlier:
    #1 – video (full incident) of him going in to bait a cop at an airport. Given the amount of special interest he showed in the officer’s weapon, I’m surprised he wasn’t pulled back for questioning right there (probably what he was angling for, again).

    #2 – he whips his camera out in a stop in which he matches the description of someone the police have been asked to find (a suspect in an assault case). This is the only prior aberration in terms of not having his camera running for entire incidents, AND he makes a second incident of it by going back to bait the cops later on. He also interestingly makes a big point of asking “Why did he just call me ‘Steve’? How did he know my name?” regarding the other officer on the scene and the answer is easy: because the other officer was running the plates and probably called up the rental registration for the vehicle just in case.

    He walks over to harass the cops. His questions about “why was I trespassing if the cops can park here” are incredibly easy to answer: it’s a restaurant. Probably, it has had issues with after-ours vandalism or worse. So they’ve asked the cops, politely, to keep an eye out and keep people from abusing their parking lot overnight. Nothing unreasonable, nothing offering up the level of vitriol he provides.

    #3 – video, feb. 2009. FULL video and his camera is clearly running as he pulls up to the checkpoint to do his thing. These checkpoints are not “surprises” to anyone with functioning eyes. If his camera’s working on this run, why does he only give the tiny bit during the other stop’s video?

    #4 – Here’s his youtube channel (or it’s this one or possibly that is an alternate of his). I’ve yet to find a video of his (except for the nighttime restaurant one earlier) where he is clearly picking up and starting the video. He enjoys a “clip and questions” approach, where he asks “questions” that have plenty of innocuous answers but he wants it to sound as sinister as possible (see above re: why a restaurant owner would be happy to have a cop car stop for a couple minutes in their parking lot after-hours to keep loiterers and troublemakers off the property).

    According to his previously established behavior, when he knows he is going to run into the cops, his camera is going. For chrissake, it’s on his passenger seat in a rental car. If he’s coming up to a checkpoint, which he can see from plenty of distance away, his camera’s going to be running. In fact, we know it is because one of his other videos (cropped incredibly short) is right here. He claims the cop is saying “Can you secondary him for he’s videotaping.” Missing in Anderson’s “activist” mind is the gap – a vocal pause indicating the cop is taking in new information, to wit, “he’s videotaping.”

    Anderson has more footage than he’s releasing. That’s 100% certain. What’s he hiding?

  16. web says:

    Among other people Anderson regularly hangs out with are this crew… another reason I find it suspicious that he presents only snippets of his interaction rather than the full experience of baiting the checkpoint again.

  17. web says:

    Hmm. This one is apparently yet another segment from the stop in question.

    Yeah. Anderson has the whole thing on camera. I’m willing to bet he has a dog barking on camera too. For whatever reason, he’s only interested in putting out snippets rather than the whole thing.

  18. trumwill says:

    Regarding the dismissed case, at least some of the discovery requests that the prosecution dragged their feet on struck me as quite reasonable. Checkpoint guidelines and training manuals, for instance. What else was requested?

    I’m relatively sure that the judge had the option of denying irrelevant discovery requests as immaterial and denied doing so. He definitely had the ability to dismiss the charges without prejudice so that the prosecutors had time to gather everything. Instead, he dismissed the charges with prejudice. So one of three things is true:

    1) The judge of a red county in a red state was biased against law enforcement and in favor of Anderson.
    2) The prosecution screwed up. The judge got so frustrated with their ineptitude he decided that it wasn’t worth giving them another chance. Also along these lines, Anderson’s lawyer was particularly effective.
    3) The prosecution did not want to turn over evidence that would have hindered their case to the point that it would not have been possible to get a conviction or that would otherwise make them look pretty bad.

    My guess is that #2, but #1 is quite possible, too. I consider #3 possible, though more on the “unlikely” side.

  19. web says:

    Other thing to point out: I wish the Arizona Bar Association actually enforced their code of conduct. The documents Anderson himself put online show that his lawyer is in violation of B3, B4, B5, B6, B7, C2, C3, and C4.

    Frivolous discovery requests to force the other side to spend a ton of time preparing documents + simultaneously bugging the judge about a “speedy” trial = completely unethical.

  20. trumwill says:

    The rules are different for the cops. Absent someone filing a freedom-of-information request, they do NOT normally release surveillance or other recorded information without a significant amount of “through the right channels” work. Jurisdictions have gotten into a lot of trouble for that, much less the Border Patrol themselves.

    They’ve had a lot of time to go through the channels. I not-infrequently see camera footage form cop-cars on pullovers. Beyond this, they should also have a copy of Anderson’s tape if the dog reacting is on there and that is not security camera footage. And even if they can’t release the footage, as far as I know they are free to talk about having it on tape and say that they are unable to release it at this time. Thus far, they haven’t. Any tape they had could have been brought up in the charges. To my knowledge, no tapes in reference to the dogs were mentioned. If they say “We have the tape but cannot release it at this time” I will be more inclined to believe that to be the case because if either is untrue then the Anderson camp can challenge them on it. But they can’t be challenged on statements they don’t make and so I can’t assume that they have evidence that they don’t tell me that they have.

    I beg to differ. I think you’re the one reaching here. The surveillance camera is from an overhead-view, locked-placement camera. It sits there watching.

    Yet they’ve never claimed to have the video. All of the proof they offer for the reaction of the dog is that that cops say so. That’s all they claim.

    Are you expecting me to believe that the camera was not recording the entire incident, from start to finish, and instead just magically turned on only for the precise moments that Anderson put on his video?

    Could be that they intentionally walked the dog on the side of the car not viewable by camera. Could be (though this is less likely) that the recording switches between cameras as a lot of security systems do. Could be that the officer made some sort of motion that could, on further inspection, be portrayed as “prompting” the dog to find something. There are a lot of things it could be. I don’t pretend to know. I do know that the cops and prosecutors make no claim about having an alerted dog on tape. I know I keep repeating this and if it’s not true, find the cops claiming that they have it and I will probably take that at face value.

    And given his status as an “activist” according to his own lawyer, it’s entirely possible that any result for a search that found nothing (triggering off either some leftover drug scent from someone having used drugs in the car at some point, or something else designed to get a dog to alert as you yourself posit earlier) would be used later to attack the credibility of all dogs used to sniff for drugs and hidden bodies.

    Speculation. Could be true or it could be that he didn’t see the dog respond but either (a) didn’t have the tape running or (b) the dog was not in view when it alerted and he wanted to get footage of the dog alerting. They also may not have announced that they were bringing the dog around and if the dog didn’t make any noise then he has no footage of the dog.

    Anderson has more footage than he’s releasing. That’s 100% certain. What’s he hiding?

    Judging by the video you point to, he’s hiding the fact that he was a disrespectful a-hole from the outset. I’ve found that probable since the start. I just don’t assume that because he has not released the video that it must contain something damning. I didn’t make that assumption for the cops, either.

    He could simply be hiding disrespectful behavior that would put him in a negative light with some people. He could have less tape than you think because in the instance in question he was distracted from his quest because he was actually going through the checkpoint because it’s a checkpoint. Again, don’t know.

  21. web says:

    Will,

    The problem is: The prosecution was local. The arresting officers were local.

    All of the subpoenas were handed to the local guys, but at the same time were for material which was part of Border Patrol jurisdiction, which is Homeland Security department. A fair amount of it also, I am sure, had to clear some form of security hurdle.

    For that matter, I’m sure the Border Patrol office looked at the request and said “what the hell do they need that for a local resisting-arrest trial?” and skipped it the first time.

    According to his lawyer on radio interview, they were subpoenaing everything they could think of. In other words, the cheap, abusive tactic that ought to get a lawyer disbarred (frivolous discovery requests are highly unethical).

  22. trumwill says:

    The judge apparently disagreed. According to said judge, they were apparently in-bounds with the discovery requests that they made. That’s not to say the judge is not wrong on this matter. {shrug}

    Okay, Option #4: The prosecution could not gather the documentation due to no fault of its own.

    An addendum to Option #2: The prosecution antagonized the judge with accusations of bias. This would hold more weight of the prosecution being “wronged”, but (a) this was already after having gotten rid of the first judge for alleged bias and (b) the defense did not want this judge.

  23. web says:

    I not-infrequently see camera footage form cop-cars on pullovers.

    And when you do, it’s almost always either from (a) the suspect’s lawyer providing it to the news outlets or (b) the news outlets themselves filing a FOIA request for it.

    Yet they’ve never claimed to have the video. All of the proof they offer for the reaction of the dog is that that cops say so. That’s all they claim.

    I’ve yet to see a statement anywhere regarding the case, save for one Border Patrol official offering a statement regarding points of law in reply to reporter questions. My guess is, someone at high levels said “don’t dignify this with a public statement” because Anderson was (and remains) in full rile-up-a-media-scandal mode with the assistance of some of the crazy crowds he hangs out with.

    In this video, go to ~22 minutes in and watch; he basically says what his agenda is, and he’s pulling the same shit that got him in trouble later, giving the cops enough reason to suspect he’s got something and then refusing to pull into the secondary inspection area out of traffic (thus, disobeying a lawful order and blocking traffic).

    In fact, he’s so well known to the Border Patrol that when they ask him if he’s associated with the “CheckpointUSA” outfit (he damn well seems to be) he refuses to answer. Obviously the Border Patrol are having a bit of trouble with this, most obviously the fact that they then have the added trouble of trying to figure out whether the guys coming through are (a) from the looney bin, (b) drug/human smugglers imitating the guys from the looney bin, or (c) people who’ve seen the looney bin’s videos on youtube and think it’d be fun to make one of their own.

    I suspect, having re-read the copy of the search warrant from Anderson’s legal documents, I know what the dog alerted on and I’m now 100% convinced the dog alerted. His trunk was full of fireworks, e.g. explosives.

  24. trumwill says:

    My guess is, someone at high levels said “don’t dignify this with a public statement” because Anderson was (and remains) in full rile-up-a-media-scandal mode with the assistance of some of the crazy crowds he hangs out with.

    That doesn’t exactly make me any more sympathetic to them nor does it make me more inclined to believe them. “I refuse to dignify that with a response” is a great way to… avoid responding. This is particularly a bad idea if, as you say below, they actually had something in the car that would alert the dog.

    I suspect, having re-read the copy of the search warrant from Anderson’s legal documents, I know what the dog alerted on and I’m now 100% convinced the dog alerted. His trunk was full of fireworks, e.g. explosives.

    Well that’s interesting. Much more likely than my previous theory that he may have put drug traces in his car. Do the cops actually attribute the alerted dogs to the fireworks?

  25. web says:

    An addendum to Option #2: The prosecution antagonized the judge with accusations of bias. This would hold more weight of the prosecution being “wronged”, but (a) this was already after having gotten rid of the first judge for alleged bias and (b) the defense did not want this judge.

    In sequence, they went through three judges.

    Judge #1, Cora Romine, recused herself (claiming she had bias/personal reasons she could not be fair) two months into the case. Indications are the shyster on Anderson’s side pushed for this. This also changed the venue, moving the case into another district.

    The prosecution objected to the change on the grounds that it was not needed and that the case was already 2 months in. It was handed to David Cooper, and the prosecution indicated that (at the very least) Rule 10.5 was the wrong way for Judge Romine to recuse.

    Judge Cooper then transferred the case to Judge Yolanda Torok (a subordinate judge under his direct supervision and control) a mere 15-20 minutes before a hearing, and then proceeded to “direct” the proceedings while sitting in the first row of the gallery. Judge Cooper then proceeded to initiate ANOTHER hearing on which judge would control the case (after Judge Torok had put the case on hold while she reviewed all the documentation that had been given to her a scant 15 minutes before the hearing) for later in the same day.

    So yeah… “judicial malfeasance” seems to have played a definite role here.

  26. web says:

    Do the cops actually attribute the alerted dogs to the fireworks?

    The cops only write the facts in their report: to wit, that they found a sizable quantity of fireworks in the car upon searching it.

    That being said, the dogs used at immigration checkpoints are trained for drugs, explosives, and human bodies (yes, dogs can be trained to alert for multiple things; the dogs used at airports, for instance, sniff for both drugs and explosives).

  27. trumwill says:

    Ugh. I wish this doc was searchable. I’ve scanned the document and can’t find the reference to fireworks. Do you happen to remember which page/section it is on?

    (I’m assuming it’s in the document entitled “Search Warrant”)

  28. trumwill says:

    Okay, I found a reference to “some ammunition” and “a small bag of fireworks.” The only quibble I have with this is that when they referred to the canine, they said it was trained for drugs and human traffic but did not mention ammunition or explosives. I’m also not entirely comfortable with having fireworks in my trunk being a reason for having to exit my car at an immigration checkpoint. That being said, I’m willing to give the officers the benefit of the doubt that it may have been an oversight (the dog may have had some training in explosives, but not certification level, or maybe the cops didn’t realize that it was also trained for exposives). I’d now put the likelihood that the dog smelled something somewhere below 100% but north of 80%.

    All of that being said, this entire line of questioning could be avoided with a higher degree of accountability for law enforcement. Force them to have a video of the dog alerting. Allow people to have an attorney or independent witness for when their car is searched. Don’t put people in the position where they really have no line of defense against legitimately crooked cops. That way, when folks like Steven Anderson (or Barry Cooper) leap into motion, I will have every reason to have faith in our authorities. That would be a really nice thing to have.

  29. web says:

    While certain levels of documentation are good, we also need to avoid one thing a Supreme Court Justice wrote about (was either Scalia or Souter if I remember right) when they posited that, if society required an independent witness to every single thing a police officer did, then right in front of the police would be only place where one could feel completely safe committing a crime.

    There’s a limit, realistically. As you stated, there’s a possibility the dog alerted on the side of the car that doesn’t have the best camera angle. Yeah, you could require them to have a dozen cameras and massive recording suite, but then you’re making some pretty severe limits on an outfit that (admittedly thanks to certain governmental people) operates more-or-less on a shoestring budget. If you put out an “independent witness”, you have three choices – one of the activist types (who will waste time and make it pointless to even be there), someone who is complacent, or someone who is willing to rubber-stamp the cops on pretty much anything. And the final two will be accused of colluding with the cops anyways.

  30. trumwill says:

    when they posited that, if society required an independent witness to every single thing a police officer did, then right in front of the police would be only place where one could feel completely safe committing a crime.

    Sure. I mention that in my post, in fact. At the same time, I think that we can differentiate between situations where the circumstances are exigent and non-reproducible and therefore we cannot expect them to have their ducks in a row… and circumstances like checkpoints where that’s all they’re doing. In the latter case, we can raise expectations.

    Regarding independent witnesses, I would expect them to fall into the first group. Activists and people who would genuinely be sympathetic to the suspect. However, for their testimony to be worthwhile, they’d need to bring a camera with them. Otherwise, there’d be no reason to believe them on the stand.

  31. web says:

    What I was thinking of more – from the activist front – is the plausibility of the activists physically or verbally interfering with the stops. Plus, most of the activists think the stops shouldn’t even be there, and having them shout “this is unconstitutional! Just shut up and demand to leave” behind the officers’ backs , or even verbally interfering demanding that the cops self-narrate what they are doing each step of the way, won’t really help.

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