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Racial Profiling: Me and the Temecula (Border) Division of the CHP
The stops make no sense
I have been profiled by the cops many times and have never complained. There was the time that Hermosa Beach Police stopped me while taking my ex-girlfriend's brown hair, blue-eyed daughter to the airport and the cop spoke only to her and not to me. He did not even ask for my license. There was the time in Torrance, when the cop stopped me in a cross-walk and told me, "The next time an officer looks at you, don't look back." There was the time the cop pulled me over for playing Paul Simon's "Homeless" to loud because he thought it was rap music and many others.
The scariest to me was when two Riverside Sheriff’s Officers who were actually driving in front of me stopped, pulled over to median, got behind me and pulled me over in Moreno Valley. I did not have my insurance or registration and they never asked me for it. They ran to my car with their hands on their weapons. When I put the window down, they asked if I had any warrants. I said no. They said have you ever been arrested. I said no and he said are you sure? They never asked for anything else but they gave me a ticket for a broken brake light. I did call about this stop and and found out from their commander that the officers were part of an an Indio SWAT team that was on downtime and doing felony warrant stops.
However, I have had it with the Temecula division of the California Highway Patrol.
Three out of the last four times I have been there at night I have been stopped. The second time was so egregious that I complained and I let them talk me out of it. This time, November, I did complain and their explanation and tactics afterwards have left me fuming. I will take you through them one-by-one and give you their explanation.
- 1st incident: I was in Murrieta at JCarter's Tavern and we left to go to some place that had a pool table. There is always a Riverside Sheriff's Officer sitting in that parking lot near Carl's Jr. He sits in an unmarked vehicle. We pulled out of the parking lot in a caravan of three cars. I was the last car. Two officers followed me out of the parking lot and pulled me over right after I crossed over the 215 freeway. They walked up to my car with their hands on their weapons. One was the Sheriff's officer and the other was CHP. I had done nothing wrong. There were no outside violations on vehicle and they stopped me anyway.
- The CHP officer spoke first, "I smell a whiff of marijuana." The Sheriff walked up to my car looked inside and said, "I see nothing here; you can go on."
- Their explanation:I had a conversation that turned heated with a Sergeant Robinson of the CHP. He asked me what happen at each incident and told me that, “I can’t speak to what they were doing, but it sounds like a gang detail.” Later, as we were talking when I brought up this statement as evidence that I was profiled, he became quite angry.
- 2nd Incident: A psychologist friend and I went dancing in Old Town Temecula. She lives in the area and I do not. At the time, I was living, in Menifee which is about 15 miles from Old Towne. We both had several drinks earlier in the night. We were drinking whiskey. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I routinely stop drinking a minimum of three hours before I am going to drive. My friend was buzzed and I told her we needed to eat before we drove, and we walked to Public House near where she had parked her car.
- We were in the restaurant for at least an hour. We had a full meal. As we walked out, I noticed two CHP officers standing not far from her car. I pointed them out to her and asked if she was sure she wanted to drive. I could tell that she was still buzzed. The officers were parked in front of a building near a parking garage and her car was not more than 25-30 yards from them that’s being generous. It was so close that I recognized them as a shorter, younger Hispanic male and a taller, older caucasian male and could tell that they were CHP. It was close enough that they could identify me as African American and her as Caucasian.
- She got into her car on Main St. and drove away. There is a semi-circle very near where she was parked. The officers were parked on the Southern side of the circle in front of a building and I was parked about three blocks away near the Beer and Wine Garden. I started walking and these officers followed me. I got into my car, turned left on 6th St, and they were right behind me, I turned right on Front Street and pulled out of Old Town. As soon as I was out of Old Town, they pulled me over.
- Why this is important:When I spoke to Sgt. Robinson, he intimated that CHP officers are not allowed to stop you in Old Town. He said that they had spoken with officers about following people out of Old Town because they were not suppose too.
- The younger officer came to my car. He shined his light on me. I asked why he stopped me. He said that I had rolled through a stop sign. I never debate what happens with officers unless it is just crazy, like the time an officer stopped me at 6:30 a.m. for going 65 miles an hour in 75 yards. I told him he was crazy. I said, “Ok.” He asked if I had been drinking and I said earlier. He walked back to his car with my license and registration and when he came back, he asked me if I would submit to a sobriety test. I agreed, knowing I was not drunk. He asked where I was coming from. I said Public House told him that I saw them sitting near Public House. I asked him why they had followed me.
- I passed his sobriety test. I passed his breathalyzer. I then asked him again if they saw me put my friend in her car and ask her if she needed me to drive her home or call her a cab. He said nothing. The older officer stood nearby, which gave me the idea that this was a training exercise. The younger officer yelled at me about being close to the legal limit, which I was not. He told me I could be arrested anyway, which I could not. He then told me that I should go to the nearby Denny’s and eat and I reminded him that I had just come from Public House
- Their Explanation:It sounded like the officers gave me a warning and that the officer had a right to stop me because I was coming out of an establishment that served alcohol. When I asked about being followed , Officer Robinson said that the officers had no chance to observe me but I reminded him that I had to walk 3 blocks to my car and that the officers followed me.
- One point of contention between us was the fact that I did not get those officers' names. I asked if there would be a record and he said no. At the time, I had not told him that the officer had taken my license, ran my registration, and given me full sobriety test with breathalyzer. When I did, he became angry and started yelling. I still haven't told him I filed an online complaint.
- I came home and I immediately contacted my friend and told her I had been profiled. She urged me to file a complaint. I filed an online complaint and allowed someone who sounded very much like Sgt. Robinson to talk me out of following though.
- Third Incident: This incident happen near the wineries. I went to a friend's birthday party and took pictures for an album, which I have yet to create. When I came out of winery, I turned the wrong way. I did not realize it at first. The winery closes at 5:00 and we left before because some people wanted to change clothes. I realized I was going the wrong way after the circle and I ran into a long line of cars stopped at stop sign about 150 yards away. My plan was to go to a friend’s place in San Jacinto and change clothes. Then I was going to meet my friends in Old Town to listen to music.
- As I drove, I noticed the traffic and that there was a little road on the right that I could turn on, but I thought that I would not be allowed to cross. Not 50 yards away, I noticed a service road, of sorts, that I could turn left on and turn around. When I got a standard left turn length away, I turned on my blinker, pulled into the left turn lane and drove a few feet when I noticed a cop in an SUV. There was a line of cars on my side, and they were stopped because of a stop sign. I stopped to wait for the officer to pass so I could turn left and he looked right at me and lit me up. He pulled in behind me in the left turn lane and pulled me over on the very road that I was trying to turn left on. I texted my friend and told her that I was being profiled. The officer came to my car and mumbled something about an illegal left turn. I said to him I was turning around. He asked if I had been smoking marijuana and I said no. He asked if I had been drinking and I said earlier. He took my registration and license and I could not pull my insurance card up on my phone. He asked what insurance company and I told him Geico.
- He left and came back gave me some kind of eye test with a pen. I passed. He told me he smelled marijuana and I could be arrested for that. I know I cannot. He then said he was giving me a ticket for making an illegal left. I said ok, took the ticket, because I could not see it because by this time it was dark and I did not have glasses. I pulled out behind the officer, but decided that I did not have time to go to my friend’s and went back to where my other other friends were having dinner.
- I got home and read the ticket and it was for ‘passing in a left turn lane’. I called and received a call back from Sgt. Robinson and we had a conversation where he promised he would call me back back in two or three days. I waited for two weeks before I filed another complaint. I felt I had to because of recent events in America. I have to do my part to stop cops from stopping black men for no reason. I immediately got the call I have been referring to from Sgt. Robinson.
- Their explanation:There is video of me passing 30 or 40 cars in the left turn lane. There were not 30 or 40 cars in front of me. The officer did nothing that was racial and was not rude. I have never had an officer be overtly racial or rude to me. Do I want a meeting? Yes. I want to see the tape. This is a common ploy when dealing with racial profiling, I didn't ask him how the officer could videotape me in a moving vehicle? There is a video! YOU HAVE NOTHING THAT PROVES RACIAL PROFILING!!! I told him that was his opinion, and he was yelling at this point. I asked him several times what I needed to do next and he kept yelling. He told me that I had no right to keep accusing an officer of racial actions and I told him I had been stopped many times and had never accused an officer of anything. I asked again what I should do to move forward and he continued to want to yell at me about my complaint. The conversation ended with me hanging up on him.
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