A California police agency is defending the actions of an officer caught on camera drawing his gun and pointing it at a passenger for more than nine minutes during a traffic stop late last month.
The footage, captured on cell phone video by the driver and later posted to social media, shows an unidentified officer pointing his pistol at a male passenger who pleads with the officer to lower his weapon while showing his hands. The video has drawn sharp criticism from viewers who felt the officer went too far, but Capt. Gary Berg of the Campbell Police Department said the video doesn’t tell the whole story.
“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 told The Mercury News in a lengthy statement about the incident. He said department officials are weighing whether to release the body cam footage in its entirety or in pieces.
The police stop occurred on July 28 when the officer pulled the car over for speeding along Highway 101. Berg said in the first few minutes of the encounter, which wasn’t captured on video, the officer had a cordial exchange with the vehicle’s occupants and asked to see the female driver’s licence, registration and proof of insurance.
The duo struggled to find the requested documents for several minutes, after which the officer walked back to his motorcycle to write a ticket, according to Berg. That’s when the male passenger reportedly reached under his seat, prompting the officer to draw his pistol.
In the video, the passenger is seen holding his hands up as he explains that he was only trying to find the requested items. The officer responds, saying he understands but then cautions the man not to move.
“Why are you still pointing the gun at me, bro?” the passenger asks. “My hands are right here.”
Berg contended that officer’s decision to draw his gun 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 in a statement. “This is intended to protect our officers as well as those they come in contact with.”
Some who viewed the 9-minute-long video felt differently, however.
“The cop’s actions are ridiculous, and so is anyone who thinks it’s okay for a cop to pull and hold a gun on this guy,” one Facebook user commented. “What the hell is wrong with police officers who think they have this right? Seems like Nazi Germany, or worse.”
Others saw nothing wrong with the officer’s actions, like another user who wrote that the passenger should have just “shut his big mouth” or a gun wouldn’t have been pulled on him.
The harrowing video has been viewed more than 1.9 million times and shared on Facebook over 19,000 times, so far.
Berg noted that the footage is also missing the conclusion of the incident, where the officer reportedly explains his actions to the passenger.
“The passenger indicated he understood why it happened and actually apologized to the officer,” Berg said.
The duo was ultimately ticketed and let go without further incident, The Mercury News reported.