- Video footage shows Louisville police officers pulling over a black teenager for making a “wide turn,” but they quickly pull him from his car, frisk and handcuff him, then ask why he’s being “negative.”
- Tae-Ahn Lea, 18, and his mother, Tija Jackson, are now talking about their experience, saying he was “stereotyped” by the officers.
- The video has since sparked a debate over whether police behave too aggressively when handling minor traffic violations.
- The Louisville Metro Police Department told INSIDER an investigation into the matter is ongoing.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
Police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, pulled over a black teenager last August for making a “wide turn” onto a road – but video footage that has since gone viral shows that the officers then pulled him from his car, frisked and handcuffed him, and had a drug-sniffing dog search his car.
Perhaps most jarringly, the officers then asked why the teen was being so “negative.”
Tae-Ahn Lea, 18, and his mother, Tija Jackson, have since talked about the incident and argued that it was wrong of the officers to pull him from his car and assume he had drugs. Lea had borrowed his mother’s car that day to get a slushie, and said he had done nothing to warrant such an aggressive search.
“I was stereotyped and I don’t like to be judged that way,”Lea told WAVE 3 News. Lea has no criminal record or prior arrests, and the traffic violation was later dismissed in court.
Lea could be seen on the footage cooperating with the officers’ instructions, but the officers appeared confused at Lea’s hostility towards them. At various points, they chastised him for clenching his fists, glancing at his car behind him, and even swearing too much.
“Quit with the attitude,” one officer said.
The stop originally occurred August 9, 2018, but footage of the incident wasn’t released until recently. Since it was posted on YouTube, the video has racked up nearly one million views.
The officers said they pulled Lea over after he made the turn. The video shows the men having a friendly exchange up until Lea answers a phone call from his mother and tells her he’s been pulled over.
One officer then opens the door to Lea’s car, tells him to put his phone on the dashboard, then pulls Lea out by the wrists.
“Mama, they’re taking me out the vehicle, they’re pulling me out of the car,” he calls out.
Lea grows visibly more annoyed as the officer leads him to the rear of the car and tells him to put his hands on the trunk and spread his feet apart while he is frisked. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that police may only frisk individuals if they have reasonable suspicion the person is armed and dangerous.
At one point, while Lea stood, handcuffed, in front of a police vehicle, an officer asked about Lea’s attitude.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why do you have, like, this negative view towards the police? What’s the deal? What’s ever happened in your life personally where you can give me a good explanation?” the officer said.
“Absolutely nothing,” Lea replied. “I f—— graduated, I got a good-a– job … I’ve never done s— in my life. I’ve been in my house all day.”
The officer responded, “So what’s the problem? Why are we in this situation?”
“You! F—— you,” Lea said.
The video has since sparked a debate over whether police behave too aggressively when handling minor traffic violations.
A spokeswoman for the Louisville Metro Police Department told INSIDER there is an open investigation into the matter, but declined to comment further.
But the department told the Louisville Courier Journal that while it recognises “tension exists between the police and community, particularly as it relates to traffic stops,” officers won’t change their approach toward traffic stops because they’re “an effective strategy to help control crime.”
Lea and his mother have hired a lawyer and intend to file a lawsuit, the newspaper reported.
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