‘Are You Stupid?’: White N.C. Trooper Pressures Black Woman Out of Car and Reportedly Grabs Her by Neck in Traffic Stop

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A Black North Carolina woman stopped for allegedly running a red light was allegedly grabbed by the neck and pulled to the back of her vehicle in an incident she is calling excessive force.

Charish Jones, 37, told ABC 11 her 15-year-old daughter was in the back seat of her car when North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Zachary Bumgardner pulled her over at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday on Jones Sausage Road near Raleigh, North Carolina.

The trooper told her she had run a red light, to which Jones replied that she thought the light was yellow, the news station reported.

“He said, ‘my light was green, are you stupid?'” Jones told ABC 11. “And he said, ‘Do you comprehend what I’m saying?'”

She told another news outlet she started recording her encounter because the trooper’s “words were laced with venom.”

After the incident, Jones posted the video on Facebook Live.

In the video, Bumgardner can be heard asking Jones to get out of her car.

“Why would I need to step out of the car?” she asked.

“Because I’m asking you to,” Bumgardner responded.

“Why? I don’t feel comfortable,” Jones said.

“That’s fine,” Bumgardner responded. “You’re recording now, so you’re more than comfortable.”

“No, I’m not comfortable,” Jones said.

She refused to get out of the car and asked the trooper to stop flashing his flashlight in the back of her car.

“There’s a minor,” Jones said. “You pull me out this car, and I swear to God that I’m going to call a lawyer immediately.”

Bumgardner said he had a right to ask Jones to step out of the car and cited the Supreme Court decision of Pennsylvania v. Mimms in doing so.

“You’re going to step out, or you’re going to jail,” Bumgardner was heard saying in the video.

Jones said she got out of the car and Bumgardner tried to pull her to the back away from her daughter.

“I went to get back in the vehicle. That’s when he grabbed me by my neck and pulled me to the back of the vehicle, and that’s when you hear me yelling for help,” Jones told WRAL Monday.

Charish Jones
Charish Jones says a North Carolina state trooper used excessive force when he stopped her allegedly for running a red light. (Photo: screenshot from WRAL video)

In the decision Bumgardner referenced, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s decision that police officers violated the Fourth Amendment and illegally seized a driver’s revolver when police required the man to get out of the car and identify himself on a traffic stop.

When police asked the driver to step out of his car, they noticed a large bulge under his jacket that turned out to be the weapon.

The Supreme Court found that the officer was justified in making the search once he observed the bulge because “the facts available to the officer at the moment of the seizure or the search ‘warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief’ that the action taken was appropriate.”

Bumgardner said in video of the recent encounter that he was outnumbered in the incident and asked Jones to get out of the car.

It’s unclear whether that satisfies standards applied in Pennsylvania v. Mimms, but Pete Rubino, a retired a police officer who trains officers in police procedure, told WRAL he believes the trooper could have done more to de-escalate the situation.

“The officer doesn’t articulate his necessity to have her step out,” Rubino told the news station. “There needs to be some further questioning on why the officer is asking her to step out of the vehicle. He should articulate for her safety and for his safety so he can talk to her.”

Jones, who otherwise had no criminal record, was charged with resisting arrest, WRAL reported.

“I’m 4-foot-10. I pose no threat to him,” she told the station. “He should be accountable for his actions.”

Highway Patrol spokesman First Sgt. Michael Baker and Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told the news station they are reviewing the incident.

Bumgardner was also the first law enforcement officer on the scene when Kyron Hinton, a Black woman, was beaten and attacked by a police dog in April 2018, WRAL reported.