SANDUSKY - We are verifying something a lot of viewers are asking us about. What are your rights during a traffic stop?
You started asking questions after seeing a Facebook post that went viral of an incident in Sandusky. The video was recently posted by the hacktivist group "Anonymous" and showed a heated exchange between an officer and a couple with a baby. So we set out to Verify, who was behind the video and who had the right of way, so to speak.
First thing's first, although Anonymous posted the video on June 30th – it's not new. We confirmed that Andre Stockett shot it years ago, and the video went viral in October 2014.
But who's right and who's wrong here?To find out we checked with Mike Benza, the Senior Law Instructor with Case Western.
If you're asked to get out of the car, or to stay inside, do what the officer says.
You can't refuse an order, like Stockett did in this video. In Ohio, you also have to hand over your license, registration and proof of insurance to any law enforcement officer who asks for it.
Benza says officers "don't" have a right to search your vehicle without a warrant.
But, it is legal for a drug dog to sniff around your vehicle without a warrant. Courts have ruled that it's not considered a search.
As for why the couple got pulled over, well Benza says, that's questionable because the reason kept changing.
During the exchange, the officers said it was because Stockett looked like a man who had an arrest warrant. Then they said it was because the couple was driving without their lights on. Later, they claimed it was because the driver seemed nervous.
Good thing it's all on tape. But what about that tape?
We asked Benza if it's OK to record an officer during a traffic stop?
Well, you do have the right to record, but if it interferes with the officer's job and they order you to put the camera down – you better do it.
Bottom line, our expert says even if the officers are wrong in the traffic stop – do what they tell you.
You can always take 'em to court later.
So the video is old…and you do have to follow the officer's commands.
And that's Verified.
The couple was initially arrested for obstruction but those charges were dropped. Instead the officer was suspended for 60 days. That's because he was found guilty of not being honest with supervisors about why he pulled over the couple. The officer apparently knew Andre Stockett from previous encounters.
Mike Benza, Senior Law Instructor with Case Western Reserve University
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