9/10/2007Missouri: Police Threaten, Detain Motorist for Parking After Hours
A St. George, Missouri police officer is caught on tape threatening to invent charges to arrest a motorist for parking after hours.
A motorist who refused to discuss his personal business with a St. George, Missouri police officer was threatened with arrest last Friday. Brett Darrow, 20, no stranger to unconventional encounters with police, caught a St. George Police Sergeant James Kuehnlein stating that he had the power to invent charges that would put Darrow behind bars. Update: Sergeant Kuehnlein was placed on unpaid leave Monday pending an investigation.
"Try and talk back... to me again," yelled Sergeant Kuehnlein. "I bet I could say you resisted arrest or something. You want to come up with something? I come up with nine things."
The incident began at around 2am. Darrow was to meet a friend who was working late and was going to pick him up. Darrow headed toward a 24-hour commuter parking lot in an unincorporated part of Saint Louis County in his 1997 Nissan Maxima. He put on his turn signal and entered the lot which, aside from Kuehnlein's cruiser, was essentially vacant. After stopping the car, the police officer approached and began questioning Darrow about what he was doing. When Darrow declined to discuss his personal business, the police sergeant exploded. Although the video clearly shows Darrow driving properly and using his turn signal, the police officer insisted that Darrow had broken the law.
"Oh, while you were coming towards me you were swerving back and forth within the roadway," Sergeant Kuehnlein said. "I might give you a ticket for that. You want me to come up with some more? When you turned in, you failed to use your turn signal, your right turn signal."
Without the video, Darrow tells TheNewspaper that he would have stood no chance disproving the officer's word in court. Twenty-eight percent of the St. George municipal budget comes from traffic citations. Darrow wonders how many of the tickets were legitimate.
"Looking into this guys eyes, he was crazy," Darrow said. "I was really scared he was going to assault me. I just wonder how many other people have been arrested on these charges."
After ordering Darrow against the car and searching him, Sergeant Kuehnlein released the motorist. Update: Website used by Saint Louis police contained threats of harassment and bodily harm against Darrow in June.
View video of incident below. Warning: Police officer uses graphic language.
Transcript of audio made by Brett Darrow:
Officer #1: How we doin? What's going on?
Officer #1: Why you parkin here?
Brett: Can't I park here? It's a commuter lot right?
Officer #1: Yeah, but we have problems after midnight time. People break into cars. You got any ID on you?
Brett: Yeah, I do.
Officer #1: Can I see it please?
Brett: Did I do something wrong?
Officer #1: Yeah you're a suspicious vehicle right now.
Brett: I'm what?
Officer #1: [Leans into the car and yells] You are a suspicious vehicle right now.
Brett: In a commuter parking lot?
Officer #1: Yeah you are cause we have car thieves in here. Yeah you're right.
Brett: Cause I can park right here.
Officer #1: You want me -- You wanna come out of the car? Come on out. Come on out.
[I exit the vehicle]
Officer #1: Let me see your ID.
[I give him my valid Missouri License]
Officer #1: Let me see your insurance card for the vehicle.
Brett: Did I commit a moving violation?
Officer #1: Yeah you did, when you were coming in here.
Brett: Really? What was that?
Officer #1: Yeah, you wanna try me? You wanna try me tonight? You think you've had a bad night? I will ruin your ****ing night.
[Officer starts to get close up to my face]
Officer #1 You want to try me?
[Officer is inches away from my face, screaming as I'm pinned between him and my vehicle]
Officer #1 Do you wanna try me young boy? Do you want to try me tonight young boy?
Brett: No I don't.
Officer #1: Do you want to go to jail for some ****ing reason I come up with?
Brett: No I don't.
Officer #1: Do you wanna see who knows the law better, me or you. My experience compared to your young ass. Huh? Don't ever get smart mouthed with a cop again. I show you what a cop does. Do you understand me?
Brett: Yes sir.
Officer #1: Try and talk back -- Talk back to me again. I bet I could say you resisted arrest or something. You want to come up with something? I come up with nine things. Do you wanna try something?
Brett: No I don't.
Officer #1: Wait here.
Officer #1 Oh, while you were coming towards me you were swerving back and forth within the roadway. Okay? I might give you a ticket for that. You want me to come up with some more? When you turned in, you failed to use your turn signal, your right turn signal [Turn signal was used, see video at 0:06]. You wanna try me some more? Huh? Come on smart ass. Gimmie an attitude a little bit more. I bet -- I guarantee I can tow this car by the time I'm done with you. You wanna try me now? Gimmie a little more lip. [officer gets back up in my face] Come on boy. Come on boy give me some more lip. You're done?
Brett: I don't want any problems officer.
Officer #1: You're about ready to get it. You already start your ****ing problems with your attitude. Did we have a bad night boy? Huh? Answer me or I'll lock you up for failure to imply with a police officer's commands.
Brett: Cause I'm not answering your questions about my personal business?
Officer #1: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You want me to show you? You want me to show you? You want me to lock you up to show you I'm right and you're wrong?
Brett: No I don't officer.
Officer #1: You want me to show you the ****ing law.
Brett: No, I mean I know Sean who used to work here. [A new neighbor of mine that used to work in the St. George police department]
Officer #1: Sean who? You mean my buddy, my best friend?
Brett: Yeah. He's me neighbor.
Officer #1 Okay, he's my best friend. Oh good. Why don't you go call him and tell him you came in front of Kuehnlein and see what he says If you got lucky you'll walk away from me.
Brett: I really don't want any trouble officer.
Officer #1: What are you doin' with a camera hooked to your car seat?
Brett: I have lots of cameras in my car.
Officer #1: Why is that?
Brett: And they upload to secure sources
Officer #1: Okay. I don't really care about your secure sources. I've got one in my car. See that?
Officer #1: It's a secure source.
Officer #1: I really don't care about your camera system cause I'm about ready to tow your car. Then we can tear them all apart...
Brett: Oh well, it doesn't matter. The videos not even in here.
Officer #1: Okay, it doesn't matter, I really don't care about your video
Brett: I'm sure the news will like it.
Officer #1: I don't really care cause you're about ready to go to jail.
Brett: I don't want to go to jail officer.
Officer #1: I'm gonna show you you're about ready to.
Brett: You're right officer
Officer #1: Okay.
Brett: I'm sorry.
Officer #1: You think these security cameras -- I guarantee ya, mine and my boy mic is gonna tell a little different and your attitude.
Brett: I don't want any problems.
Officer #1: You started it. Why do you have an attitude? As a matter of fact, I was gonna come in here, see if you're okay. First of all we have people try to commit suicide in here. We have car thieves come in here. We have people break into cars here. I have enough probable cause to stop you. Okay?
Brett: Okay officer, I'm sorry. I don't want any problems.
Officer #1: What is your problem tonight?
Brett: I just had a bad night officer.
Officer #1: You know what? You don't take it out on me. You don't never take it out on a cop cause we will ruin your career and life and everything else you have coming before you. Okay?
Officer #1: What is your problem tonight?
Brett: I had problems earlier, I just came in here to sit.
Officer #1: You know what, that's all you tell me. You don't give me no problem with -- what did I do wrong cause I guarantee I come up with nine things. If you know Sean, why don't you ask Sean about me. Okay?
Brett: What's your name?
Officer #1 Sergeant Kuehnlein.
Officer #1: Do me a favor. When you do turn in here next time, use your turn signal.
Officer #1: Okay. And seriously if you are pissed off, you're impairing your driving. Okay? I don't know if you were talking on the phone or just not paying attention, you were honestly coming down the roadway not staying within your roadway. You were honestly going back and forth. I don't know what you were doing, but I go it all on tape. Okay?
Officer #1: I don't know if you were playing with something else, or paying attention to something else, I don't know.
Officer #1: You need to be more aware. And when people pull you over, my job ain't to be P-ed off. Okay? My job is to conduct my career and my job. Okay?
Officer #1: I don't have to have a reason to pull you over. First of all you're a suspicious vehicle in the commuter lot that's pretty much vacant and the commuter lot hours is after dusk, after 12 o'clock. Okay? You understand what I'm getting at? I know the law a little bit... How old are you by the way? 18?
Brett: I'm 20.
Officer #1: Okay, I was close. Okay. I think I've been around, as a matter of fact, I've been a cop almost as long as you've been alive. Okay?
Officer #1: Do you understand what I'm getting at?
Brett: I really don't want any problems officer.
Officer #1: Do you understand what I'm getting at? I'm trying not be ignorant, but when you give me lip, I'm gonna give it right back to you ten times harder. Okay? You give me an attitude, I'm gonna give you attitude a lot harder. Okay?
Officer #1: You understand what I'm getting at? I'm trying to honestly see what's wrong, why, with your attitude. You understand?
Officer #1: Okay. You seem... You ever been in trouble before?
Officer #1: For what?
Officer #1: To who?
Brett: An off-duty police officer.
Officer #1: A cop?
Brett: I was assaulted by a police officer and a grand jury dismissed all the charges and the City of St. Louis paid me not to sue.
Officer #1: Okay. You have a problem then. Is it, was it your attitude that night, probably? Or he just had...
Officer #1: Or he just had...
Brett: No, it was an intoxicated off-duty police officer that attacked me.
Officer #1: Oh, it didn't happen while he was on-duty?
Brett: No, He was off-duty.
Officer #1: You need to honestly lose... Okay, where do you work at?
Brett: I own my own company.
Officer #1: What do you do?
Brett: I'm a painter. I'm a paint contractor and I go to school.
Officer #1: Okay. Let's say you're a painter. Okay. You were going to sit there a few minutes right?
Officer #1: We're gonna talk for a few seconds. Okay, then I'll let you go. If you don't have no warrants against you, I'm gonna run your name real quick. You don't have no warrants do you?
Officer #1: Okay, lets say I come to your job or you come to my house, wherever you're painting and I start giving you attitude. What would you do? Would you get a little irritated about that? And probably not do a great job of painting or something? Am I right or wrong?
Brett: You're right officer.
Officer #1: No. Don't agree with me cause you want to agree with me now. Agree with me because, if I'm right, tell me if I'm wrong.
Brett: I don't want any trouble.
Officer #1: Here's my back-up you don't think I'm gonna do anything. We've got cameras and body mics.
Brett: Well I don't know. You said you were going to charge me with resisting arrest and whatever else.
Officer #1: Well yeah. I can come up with more stuff than you can.
Brett: I'm just standing here.
Officer #1: No, cause you kept flinging your hands. [My hands were held at my beltline the whole time]
Brett: My hands were down here.
Officer #1: At toward me. Nah, you were swinging up and down.
[Officer #2 walks up and #1 starts talking to him]
Officer #1: He comes by me, coming down the road going in and out of the roadway within, within the lane. Failure to use a right-turn signal.
Brett: Was I speeding too?
Officer #1: Speeding. Do you understand I don't have to pull you over for speeding. Okay, It's your driving.
Officer #2 He's got a camera in the car.
Officer #1: It's to a secret link. I told him about our cameras too and our body mics. But anyway, the first thing he does is give me attitude about why I'm pulling him over. First of all, he's in the commuter lot after dark. I told him a lot of people try to commit suicide. Uh, people steal cars. People break into cars. He tried giving me lip and uh, he tried telling me all this stuff.
Officer #2 Why does he have the camera?
Officer #1: Cause he was assault right, but an off-duty drunk city cop so he put cameras in his car. I don't understand it. Anyway, that's him. But, now he's just agreeing with me just for the fun of it cause he had a bad day so he thinks he's gonna tell me the law why I can't pull him over.
Officer #1: It's called... When you go home and you want to tell everybody, first thing you tell em, you were pulled over because you were a suspicious vehicle. In the State of Missouri, we have the right to stop anybody walking for a pat check, or stop a suspicious vehicle anytime. Okay? That was my probable cause. And this parking lot, as a matter of fact, what's this parking lot called? Officer #1: What did you just call it?
Brett: It's a parking lot.
Officer #1: What kind?
Brett: A commuter parking lot
Officer #1: Are you commuting somewhere? Are you commuting somewhere?
Brett: How would you know that?
Officer #1: Are you commuting somewhere?
Brett: How would you know that?
Officer #1: That's why I was coming to inquire about that, but you just told me you were going to sit here.
Brett: You don't know if I was going to wait here for somebody to come pick me up.
Officer #1: I asked you that, did I not.
Brett: I don't have to say anything. I have the 5th Amendment right.
Officer #1: Do you really?
Brett: Do you know what the 5th Amendment right is?
Officer #1 Do you know what impeding the flow of a police officers duties are?
Brett: What's that? Go ahead, tell me.
Officer #1: Whenever I ask you... If I'm conducting an investigat... This is called a field investigation, if you're impeding it, you're impeding it.
Brett: You're saying, I can't refuse to answer your questions?
Officer #1: They're not incriminating are they?
Brett: You don't know that.
Officer #1: Are they incriminating?
Brett: Yes they are.
Officer #1: They are?
Brett: They could be.
Officer #1: Then are you doing something illegal here?
Brett: No I'm not.
Officer #1: Then they are not incriminating.
Brett: Yes, they could be incriminating. I have the right to privacy.
Officer #1: What privacy? Not when you're out in public, you don't have the right to privacy.
Brett: Yes, I do have a right to not tell you where I'm going or what I'm doing.
Officer #1: Really?
Brett: It's the 4th Amendment right.
Officer #1: Really?
Brett: Yes it is. Violation of my rights...
Officer #1: I like this. You want me to tell you the law.
Brett: Go ahead and tell me the law.
Officer #1: If you fail to comply with my orders, my lawful orders, you have the right to go to jail. Failure to comply with a police officer.
Brett: Your lawful orders to answer your questions...
Officer #1: Yes, my field.
Brett: Personal questions?
Officer #1: What's personal questions? You're sitting here in a commuter parking lot at 2 o'clock in the morning, you understand.
Brett: Okay, that's fine.
Officer #1: You know what, I think I'm gonna bring you with me. Come on.
Brett: Officer please.
Officer #1: I think you're gonna come with me. Then you can try and sue me in grand jury and I bet you I win. Then I'll sue you.
Brett: Officer I really... I just had a bad night.
Officer #1: Well let's ruin your night. You want to show me attitude.
Brett: No, no I don't.
Officer #1: I want to show you the law. I want to show you the law. I'm gonna show you my law is right yours is wrong.
Brett: Officer, I'm sorry. Like I said, I'm not trying to start anything. I've had problems with everybody tonight and I didn't mean to give you attitude. It's just one of those nights.
Officer #1: [Officer #1 looks at Officer #2] He's getting sorry now.
I'm sure you've had the same nights.
Officer #1: I don't take it out of people.
Brett: I know, and I shouldn't either.
Officer #2- [speaking to officer #1] He's got a scanner in his car.
Brett: I've always got a scanner in my car.
Officer #1: And by the way, that is technically a burglary tool cause you're scanning us while you're driving around. You're trying to see if you're gonna be detected. [The scanner was off]
Officer #1: What do you do? Do you go look for trouble?
Officers #2- [speaking to officer #1 while looking through my back window at a small hidden camera] That is a camera.
Brett: I have multiple cameras all over the car.
Officer #1: You have issues man. Okay?
Brett: Alright, I'm sorry.
Officer #1: I think I want to take you to jail just to prove you wrong. Do you have any weapons or anything on you I need to know about?
Officer #1: If you would, turn around and place your hands on the car real quick. I'm gonna pat you down.
[At this point the officer finds nothing and I am finally released.]