A 22-year-old man in Phoenix, Arizona is mulling taking legal action against a sheriff’s deputy after a “crooked cop” pulled him over.
Last week, Phil Colbert told the Phoenix New Times he was on his way to meet his dad for lunch when a La Paz County Sheriff’s Office deputy pulled him over. Colbert said Deputy E. Max had been following him closely for 10 minutes despite the driver stating he was going under the speed limit. In the 10-minute footage that Colbert posted to YouTube Sept. 19, the deputy said he stopped Colbert because the driver’s view was obstructed. Colbert had a tree air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.
“So, you can’t have anything hanging from your rear-view mirror,” Max explains. “It obstructs the driver’s view, it changes your perception and can cause an accident. So, they don’t want anybody having anything hanging from there.”
Max explains he sells vehicles for a living and had never heard of such a thing. As he prepares to hand the deputy his license and registration, Max asks about Colbert’s drug use.
“Any marijuana in the car?” asks Max, to which Colbert says, “nope.” “You smoke marijuana?” Max follows up. “No,” Colbert replies as he gathers the requested documents for the deputy.
“When’s the last time you smoked marijuana?” Max says.
“I never smoked, I just said that,” Colbert responds.
The deputy later asks Colbert to step out of his vehicle and asks where he was headed as well as what his father does for a living. When Colbert asks Max why he was inquiring, Max states, “you seem kind of nervous and you’ve been shaking a little bit. And I don’t know if it’s just because you’ve had a bad experience with cops, but your nervousness and other things I’m seeing shows me there’s signs of deception or something else is going on.”
Colbert questions if Max asks all drivers to step out of the car, which Max says he does. Colbert says he plans on reporting the officer and the two continue a back-and-forth in which Max states he wasn’t racially profiling the driver. The deputy also asks to search Colbert’s car and also requests Colbert take a field sobriety test since his “eyes kinda look a little bit glossy.” Colbert declines both and as Max continues to ask if Colbert uses marijuana.
“I feel like this is against my rights,” Colbert say about a minute before the video cuts off.
The incident was captured in a video Colbert titled “Another Day In Our Country. Crooked Cop Stopped Me Over A Car Air Freshener. Or Was It Really That?” The footage has garnered thousands of views since it was posted.
In two other videos Colbert provided to the New-Times and The Arizona Republic, Max continues to say he doesn’t believe the driver is being honest. He ultimately let Colbert off with a warning.
“You haven’t been an a–hole to me, but you just obviously don’t like law enforcement,” the deputy stated. “So, I’m trying to get you on a positive outlook. Obviously this wastes 20 minutes of your time. I am going to give you a warning today, OK? But maybe in the future just, like I said man, if you’ve got a joint I don’t — we’re not looking for a joint.”
In a statement from Captain Curt Bagby of the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office, he told the New-Times, “there are too many violations in the Arizona Revised Statutes for us to monitor everything Deputies pull people over for; I’m not sure specifically about air fresheners, [but] I know Officers will pull people over if their view is obstructed.”
“We definitely don’t want to have a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to this, we want to make sure we do everything properly. I won’t be the one doing the investigation so I don’t know all of the specifics yet,” he added.
Colbert told the Republic he filed two complaints with the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office regarding the traffic stop a week after the incident occurred, he had not heard back. Meanwhile, Colbert said he spoke to an attorney about possibly suing the agency.