A few months ago, I had an ongoing conversation with friends, which led into debate on this very topic. It was back around the time when Oscar Grant was killed by a police officer. I could remember me saying to them, that it’s important to know your rights as a citizen per the constitution when dealing with cops. I could remember me saying that knowledge of your rights was important. Uh huh, I could remember some of my friends saying that it was irrelevant to our survival in encounters with the police.
I’m sure amnesia would kick in and they probably don’t remember saying that should I bring it back up. That said, I’d like you to meet Terrence Jones. See him in the pic sitting on that nice shiny Jaguar? Yeah, that’s him. Did you happen to notice that he was Black? Of course you did. Just like the police when they see a Black man driving a “nice car” that he shouldn’t be able to afford, you noticed he was Black as well. You see, that was Mr. Jones’ problem back in 2007.
Late one night, while driving his Lincoln Navigator – you know, the type of vehicle that if you’re Black, you have to be a drug dealer to afford? – He was pulled over by the police in South Harrison, Gloucestor County in Pennsylvania. From what I hear, this area is nothing like the “hoods” of Philly, where Mr. Jones worked for 11yrs as a police officer. Plainly speaking, this place by no means is attractive to the “hood” elements. It’s my guess that the police are intent on keeping it this way, hence their reason for pulling Terrence over.
Upon being stopped, he was questioned by the cop as to if he had been drinking, and if they (the police) can search his truck. To which, Terrence let it be known that he is not a drinker, and NO, they cannot search his car. Well, being the good officer that Officer Schaeffer was, he ordered Terrence out of the car, and administered a sobriety test because as he saw it, “he was acting shady.” Yes, those were his exact words he uttered to a backup officer who was called. After which, he questioned Mr. Jones about being in possession of anything illegal in his car. Terrence Jones said no. However, the good officer wasn’t satisfied; he peeped his head in the car to sniff for drugs.
Jones was never ticketed and was left to go his merry way. Shaken by the obvious episode where he did no wrong, Jones wrote a letter of complaint to the police chief. After about a week went by without any response, he decided to call the station. He was told that they would send somebody out to take a report at his home personally. Great, problem solved, right? Wrong! How about the police never showed up, and instead, a grand jury indicted Jones for filing a false report, and he faced up to 18 months in prison for the offense. Having done no wrong, Jones pleaded not guilty and took it to trial.
Well, he won, and now he’s suing the department for violation of his civil rights? How about that? How about the Judge was appalled, and threw the case out? How about the judge was upset at the fact that he was indicted without even presenting any of the DASH CAM evidence to the grand jury? Evidence which clearly showed Mr. Jones’ refusal to having his car searched. How about the judge said that when the cop leaned into this man’s window and decided to snoop around it constituted a search? How about the police chief said he never received a letter? But upon receiving the call a week later, when questioning the cop, he (the officer in question) decided to invoke his right to remain silent? After which, the chief turned it over to the prosecutor for them to files the false report charges?
How about that?
How about the cop knowing his rights, and Terrence Jones knowing his as well to not consent to a search of his vehicle? How about that? How about Terrence Jones is going to win this lawsuit for lord knows how much money is involved? How about knowing your rights are half the battle?
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