The Pearland Police Department was made aware of reports to local media that one of its officers may have acted inappropriately during an early morning traffic stop on September 1, 2015. In response to the local reports and to remain transparent, the dash cam footage of the two officers involved in the incident will be released in its entirety both to the public as well as the media venues requesting it.
The traffic stop occurred on September 1, 2015 at approximately 1:15 a.m., ending in the parking lot of a gas station at the intersection of Shadow Creek Parkway (FM 2234) at Almeda Road (FM 521). The driver was identified as Lamar Lathon DOB12.23.67. In order to better illustrate the course of events, a timeline corresponding to the time provided by the in-car video is provided below:
1:12 a.m. – The Pearland Police vehicle was eastbound on Shadow Creek Parkway west of Kingsley Drive and made a U-turn in order to follow the westbound vehicle that was observed speeding.
1:14 a.m. – The officer in a marked Pearland Police vehicle was behind the suspect vehicle stopped for the red light in the turn lane for southbound traffic onto Almeda Road. It appeared as if the driver was on a phone – the lit screen was clearly visible through the rear window.
1:15 a.m. – When the light turned green, the officer activated the emergency overhead lights to initiate a traffic stop. The suspect vehicle pulled into the lit parking lot of the convenience store. Upon approaching the vehicle, the driver appeared to be talking to someone as the officer introduced himself and asked for the driver’s license and proof of financial responsibility. In the video, the officer was then clearly heard giving the driver three distinct orders not to reach under his seat. When the orders were ignored by the driver, the officer unholstered his weapon and held it at a low ready position near the driver’s door in preparation for the possibility of the driver drawing a weapon from under the seat. The officer was clearly heard repeating the same order four more times for the driver to not reach under the seat. When the driver’s hands were in view and the officer could see that they held a wallet, the officer re-holstered his weapon and proceeded with the traffic stop.
1:16 a.m. – The driver can be heard speaking to someone and said, “Man, I’m not worried about no policeman talkin’ about killing me, (name redacted), I’m just trying to figure out why he’s pulling me over.” The officer explained that the reason for the stop was speeding. In response to the driver’s comment regarding the officer taking so long to make the traffic stop, the officer explained that he had to turn around and catch up to the driver.
1:18 a.m. – The officer returned to his vehicle to complete the citation and await a secondary officer.
1:24 a.m. – After a secondary officer arrived, the primary officer returned to the stopped vehicle in order to continue his traffic stop. The primary officer asked the driver several times to exit the vehicle. The driver expressed concern and said, “With all the stuff that’s happening and I’m a big guy and you’re a little guy.” The officer pointed out that they were in a lit parking lot. The driver continued by pointing out that the officer had already pulled his TASER out on him; the officer clarified that, “No, I pulled my gun on you because you were reaching under the seat.”
1:25 a.m. – After the driver exited the vehicle, the officer explained that he would search the car for weapons since the officer did not know what the driver had been reaching for. When the driver objected and made movement back toward the car, the officer raised his hand to stop the driver from returning to the vehicle prior to his search. The driver then stood by with a secondary officer while the primary officer conducted a brief search of the driver’s area of the vehicle for weapons; the search lasted approximately twelve seconds.
1:26 a.m. – The primary officer continued to explain the reason for the search and pointed out that the driver should have told him what he was reaching for. The officer continued to issue a speeding citation. While doing so, the officer found it necessary to repeat himself three times in order for the driver to provide his contact number for the citation.
1:27 a.m. – The driver mentioned his deceased mother and the officer stated, “I’m sorry to hear that.” The driver used profanity several times while addressing his concern over the citation. The driver received the citation and immediately started walking toward his vehicle and there was another terse interaction as driver’s license was returned. The traffic stop concluded and the driver was released at the scene.
Based on review of the video footage, it is the position of the Pearland Police Department that the response of the officers involved in this traffic stop was professional and within both the law and policies of this agency. The primary officer was tactically aware, maintained control of the scene and attempted to de-escalate a volatile situation brought on by a driver who refused to follow directions and whose primary complaint seemed to be the issuance of a citation.
The citation received by the driver is a matter to be addressed by the Pearland Municipal Court.
Videos below via Pearland Police Dept. Facebook Page: