CAMPBELL — The Campbell Police Department is defending a motorcycle officer’s decision to draw his gun during a recent car stop on Highway 101 — an incident that was recorded and posted on Facebook, where it has amassed more than half a million views and scores of critical comments.
Recorded by the driver, the roughly 9-minute video shows the officer pointing his pistol at a male passenger, who tells the officer several times to stop while holding his hands up. The recording, however, is incomplete and doesn’t show what led up to the incident or how it ended, according to a statement released Monday night by Campbell police Capt. Gary Berg.
“We are in a position to provide the context because we have reviewed the officer’s body-worn camera, which recorded the encounter in its entirety,” Berg said.
On July 28, the officer was traveling northbound on Highway 101 south of Bailey Avenue in Hollister when a vehicle passed him in the far right lane at about 85 mph. Berg noted that all California peace officers have the authority to enforce the vehicle code regardless of their jurisdiction, and that the officer stopped the vehicle because of “safety concerns.”
The first five or so minutes of the encounter, which did not make it into the now-viral video, included a “cordial conversation” between the occupants of the vehicle and the officer, who explained why he stopped them and for the driver’s license of the female driver and additional paperwork, according to the statement.
The driver and passenger spent several minutes looking for the paperwork and the officer told them to stay in the vehicle as he prepared to walk back to his motorcycle to write a ticket. According to the statement, it was around that time the passenger started to reach under his seat.
“Unfortunately, the passenger’s unexpected movement toward the bottom of the seat caused the officer to perceive a threat and draw his handgun,” Berg said.
In the video, the passenger explains that he was looking for the paperwork and holds his hands up. The officer tells him he understands and not to move.
“Why are you still pointing the gun at me, bro?” the passenger asks. “My hands are right here.”
Many of the comments on the video are critical of the officer’s decision draw his gun.
“He needs to be fired,” wrote one Facebook user.
“A little excessive I think but who keeps their registration under the seat?” wrote another.
Berg indicated that the officer’s actions were in line with his training.
“Our officers receive a tremendous amount of training on a consistent basis and that training is what dictates our response,” he said. “This is intended to protect our officers as well as those they come in contact with.”
Berg also addressed the unusual length of the incident, noting that backup officers had to fight through rush-hour traffic to reach the scene: “If this same situation would have occurred closer to back-up officers, it would most likely have been resolved much sooner.”
The video also is missing the conclusion of the incident, which saw the officer explain his actions to the passenger, according to the statement.
“The passenger indicated he understood why it happened and actually apologized to the officer,” said Berg, adding that the occupants of the vehicle were cited and allowed to leave.
Below is the posted to Facebook by the driver. Warning: Some language may be offensive:
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