I was recently stopped in northern, Arizona for speeding. The first question officers always ask is "Do you know how fast you were going?" I always know how fast I am going and resent having to choose between potentially incriminating myself or, even worse, lying to a police officer by answering "No."This time I ignored his question and handed the officer my driver's license, insurance and registration. He asked me a second time, "How fast were you going." I answered, "Officer, I'll answer any questions you need for identification purposes but I 'm not going to make any other statements."
The officer's face turned red, and he ordered me out of the car and to place my hands on the trunk where he proceeded to arrest me, handcuff me and place me in the back of his blazer. He had forgotten to double lock the handcuffs. When handcuffs are not double locked they cinch tighter and tighter until they cut off circulation to the hands and can cause permanent nerve damage. I said, "Officer, you forgot to double lock the handcuffs." He smiled at me and replied, "I know."
Well, this officer had just arrested one of a dozen or so lawyers in the state of Arizona who specialize in police misconduct cases. I have tried police misconduct cases to State and Federal juries (one involving the failure to double lock handcuffs) and have argued Section 1983 cases to an en banc panel of
the Ninth Circuit. Boy had this cop picked the wrong person to punk.
I accused him of retaliation for the exercise of my right to remain silent. He had marked my car for towing as an "abandoned car") and threatened to book me for criminal sppeding through Holbrook, a reservation border town with the worst drunk tank in the state which is ninety miles from the arrest location.
Suffice it to say the cop finally realized that this would not be a good move on his part and he released me with a court appearance date for criminal speeding (I was not going that fast), a class one misdemeanor. I plead to civil speeding and am in the process of filing a Notice of Claim against him individually and will soon be filing a Section 1983 lawsuit in Federal court and a simultaneous lawsuit alleging only state law claims in State court. I can't wait for the first deposition when I can ask, "So officer, ready to answer some of my questions."
Two words: Hell yes.
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