Silver Spring, MD – A Montgomery County councilman accused a state trooper of racial profiling in a Facebook post on Saturday but the Maryland State Police said the man was simply stopped for a traffic violation.
Montgomery County Councilman William Jawando posted a lengthy diatribe on his personal Facebook page on Saturday evening that described his encounter with a Maryland state trooper at 6:30 a.m. on June 8.
Jawando began by writing that he had been “pulled over for the umpteenth time” in his life.
“Officer: I stopped you because you stopped on the stop line at the last light. (I was stopped right next to another car at the light side by side).
First question: Is this your car? (because of course a black Lexus couldn't be mine).
Second question: Do you have any outstanding warrants or points?
Officer: I need to see your license and registration.
Me: May I reach into my pocket to retrieve my license and registration?
Officer: Yes, slowly.
Me: While passing them to him I say, I'm a Montgomery County Councilmember.
Officer: What did you say?
Me: I'm on the Montgomery County Council
Officer: Oh. (Suprised)[sic]”
Jawando wrote that the trooper went back to his cruiser to run his license and then returned to the car and told the councilman that he was giving him a warning.
“As I try to relax from the encounter, I realize this was a classic ‘pretextual stop,’ when an officer stops a driver for an minor traffic violation to allow them to then investigate a separate and unrelated, suspected criminal offense,” he explained. “These stops are used disproportionately against African Americans and people of color and are ripe for racial profiling. Fortunately, I resorted to my ‘training’ honed over years of similar stops.”
“But I couldn't stop thinking about what happens to the young man or women who's not a lawyer or a county councilmember, hasn't honed their training on how to survive a stop, has an outstanding traffic ticket or bench warrant they don't know about and how this situation could have escalated,” Jawando continued. “Aside from the fact that the 4th Amendment barring illegal search and seizure should mean something, these tactics erode public trust in law enforcement and must stop.”
But the Maryland State Police have said that the Montgomery County councilman has completely mischaracterized the incident and that the state trooper did not even know the driver’s race or gender when he made the stop.
“The trooper initiated the traffic stop simply because of the violation he observed. This was not a pretextual stop,” Maryland State Police Spokesman Greg Shipley told WTOP. “The vehicle had passed and stopped in front of him. He did not know the race or sex of the driver before stopping the vehicle.”
“Trooper Shu saw a vehicle pass his car, cross the stop line and enter the intersection before stopping,” Shipley said.
Jawando told WTOP that he also objected to the trooper asking him if the vehicle was his or he had any warrants during the stop.
Shipley said that Trooper Shu, who works out of the Rockville Barrack, routinely checks the ownership of a vehicle during a traffic stop.
He also said that the trooper had used his discretion in deciding not to issue Jawando a ticket for not having a valid driver’s license with him, WTOP reported.
Jawando said he had lost his wallet, including his driver’s license, before the traffic stop.
He told WTOP he had already applied online for a duplicate but that the license didn’t arrive until two days after his encounter with the state trooper.
Shipley said that Trooper Shu only issued Jawando a warning for the intersection violation and let him off the hook for the missing license.