[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
A self-described “sovereign citizen” recently posted a video of his May arrest in Addison, Texas, by a local police officer, ostensibly to display police misbehavior as the policeman breaks out his car’s window and handcuffs him.
What the video actually seems to demonstrate instead, however, is how delusional the sovereign citizen worldview really is, and how police are ultimately driven to harsh measures in order to simply enforce traffic laws in ordinary encounters with these “true believers.”
The video shows the May 2 arrest of 49-year-old Scott Richardson after being pulled over for allegedly driving 50 mph in a 40 mph zone. Recorded by Richardson on his cell phone, it shows him arguing with the Addison officer for over four minutes before the policeman gets out his baton and breaks the driver’s side window and pulls the man from the car. At that point, the phone appears to fall onto a seat, recording the sounds of Richardson being put in handcuffs and the officer who made the arrest discussing the matter with a fellow officer.
During the course of the interchange, the officer requests the man show him his driver’s license and proof of insurance a total of 15 times before he gets out his baton, makes the same request a final time, and begins breaking the window.
Throughout the exchange, Richardson refuses the request, instead attempting to interrogate the officer.
“Mmkay, let me ask you a question,” Richardson says. “As a man, what right do you have to stop another man?” When the officer explains that the state of Texas gives him the authority, Richardson goes on to claim that speeding is not illegal in the state.
“I’m speeding? Did you realize that in the State of Texas, speeding in and of itself is not illegal?” he says.
Richardson also claims in the video that the 1979 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Texas, established that law enforcement officers are not allowed to demand a citizen’s identification unless he was seen committing a felony. Actually, the case established that officers needed probable cause to detain and ID a citizen, and speeding qualifies as such.
The officer again asks for his ID, and again warns Richardson that he is facing arrest for failure to identify himself. Instead, Richardson keeps trying to question the policeman.
“Mmkay, I’m still having to ask you a question here,” Richardson says.
“That’s not how this works,” the officer responds.
“That is how this works,” Richardson insists.
Eventually, the officer shouts at the man to demand he identify himself or he will break the window open, drawing his baton and raising it. When Richardson keeps babbling into his phone, the window is broken open, the officer opens the door, and the phone falls to the floor. You can then hear the officers telling the man to stay down and then applying handcuffs and telling him he is being charged with failure to identify.
After a few more minutes, the officer can be heard conversing with another policeman, explaining that the matter was just a simple traffic stop: “All he had to do was give me his driver’s license! He was giving me that Republic of Texas crap, saying I had stopped him illegally and I don’t have the right to detain him.”
“This was for speeding?” the other officer asks.
“Yeah, that’s all it was,” the officer says. “All it was.”
A little later, he muses: “I should have known when I saw the back window. All the stickers. All that stuff.”