In an incident ripe for a hefty lawsuit, a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy arrested a motorcyclist after pulling him over for wearing a video head-cam, then demanding the footage as evidence against other bikers.
Dallas Deputy Sheriff James Westbrook ended up turning the video over to the department’s gang unit, even though there is nothing in the video indicating Chris Moore was affiliated with a gang.
The incident took place on Memorial Day Weekend as Moore was riding with a pack of at least 50 other bikers. Deputies were hoping to prevent a repeat of the previous Memorial Day Weekend when more than 100 bikers ended up shutting down the freeway.
So Westbrook singled out the one biker wearing a video head-cam – who also happened to be driving below the speed limit.
Here is the exchange that took place:
MOORE: “Was I doing something wrong? What am I being pulled over for?”
WESTBROOK: “The whole group of you guys.”
MOORE: “No. I was not, individually. How can you pull me over?”
WESTBROOK: “The reason you’re being pulled over is because I’m gonna take your camera and we’re gonna use it as evidence of the crimes that have been committed by other bikers.”
MOORE: “I have not committed any crimes, and you cannot take my personal property from me, sir.”
WESTBOOK: “That’s fine. Need to see your license and registration.”
Westbrook then announced that he was arresting Moore for having an obstructed license plate, which usually amounts to a citation.
WESTBROOK: “You’re under arrest for your license plate being obstructed. Place your hands.”
MOORE: “Are you kidding me, dude?”
WESTBROOK: “Place your hands behind your back.”
As Moore continued to protest, the deputy lost his patience.
MOORE: “Why’d you pull me over in the first place?”
WESTBROOK: “Have a seat, okay?”
MOORE: “Sir. Sir. What you did to me was not right. You know it.”
WESTBROOK: “I’m going to ask you one more time to have a seat.”
MOORE: “That’s f’ed up. Where’s my bike going?”
WESTBROOK: “Sit down.I’m telling you to chill out.”
Dallas resident and PINAC reader Avi Adelman, who writes the Daily Crime Report and has had his own run-ins with deputies over video recording, sent this letter to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, which is reprinted in its entirety below.
Dear Sheriff Valdez
Last evening, I watched in absolute shock a News8 / WFAA story regarding a motorcyclist stopped by a Dallas Sheriff Officer during the Memorial Day stunt bike crackdown. The entire stop was captured on a video camera mounted on the motorcyclist’s helmet.
I watched as Deputy Sheriff Chris Westbrook created a reason for stopping Mr. Chris Moore, created a false reason for arresting Mr. Moore, and then seized without a warrant (or valid reason) the videotape, claiming it was evidence for a crime that in fact had not occurred (stunt riding).
Then, to make things even more incredible, the tape was turned over to the County’s Gang Unit, when in fact this kind of behavior is not even remotely related to any kind of gang issue as prosecuted by the Dallas County Prosecutor’s office.
The temperamental behavior of Officer Westbrook– argumentative, refusing to provide a clear reason for the stop and arrest, and the slamming of the DSO vehicle door after Mr. Moore was pushed into the car, clearly shows the officer has anger management issues.
Sheriff Valdez, I am not a stranger to you, and you are quite familiar with my activities on Lowest Greenville. I too have encountered a number of your deputies behaving in ways that would make DSO Westbrook’s behavior seem mild . For example –
- September 2009 – An off-duty DSO working at a gang-banger club (Encore) demanded that I stop videotaping his presence, claiming I did not have his permission. Sorry, I don’t need his permission to roll tape in a publicly visible area, and he should not be working off-duty at a gangbanger club. I do not remember the exact outcome of my complaint, but I do know he was not there the next weekend. http://www.barkingdogs.org/news/node/660
- October 2010 – Two DSO officers were working off-duty at Lost Society just days after a club patron was murdered up the street on the Char Bar parking lot. My complaint resulted in an investigation, which revealed that the officers working off-duty and their supervisor (who parked a DSO vehicle in front of the club for nearly an hour) were not approved to work off-duty, had lied about their activities and falsified their timecards. This incident eventually became part of a lawsuit filed by the bar owner against me, in which he claimed I interfered with a contract relationship with the officers. However, the officers were all given one-day suspensions and the bar owner is now a guest of your jail on charges of possessing nearly 14# of methamphetamine and filing false papers with the TABC (the lawsuit was dismissed in April). One of those officers, Johnny Quarles Jr., was eventually dismissed for tampering with government documents. –http://www.barkingdogs.org/news/content/Lost-Society-lawsuit-against-BD-tossed-pile-meth-covered-towels-set-fire-and-dismissed
Sheriff Valdez, I believe your office has a responsibility to make things right, and make those things happen now. There is no reason in the world to continue the prosecution of Mr. Moore, and your office should make the request that the charges be dropped immediately.
Additionally, DSO Westbrook should be investigated for filing a false arrest report and illegally seizing property (the videotape) for a crime that not only never happened, but was not related to the traffic stop.
I look forward to your reply.
Avi S. Adelman
Update: The Dallas Sheriff’s Office is saying it has launched an internal investigation while trying to manipulate the media.
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
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