HOUSTON - If you've been on the Internet or social media, perhaps you've seen the videos of drivers defending their rights to law enforcement.
"We call it flexing your rights," said Matt Savoy.
He runs the Free Thought Project, a website which anyone with a camera and a computer can upload videos of their interactions with police.
Some traffic stops turn violent when officers pull drivers from their vehicles. Savoy said he thinks showing examples of police overstepping the law can bring about change.
"People filming and showing it, that's going to lead to more accountability, undoubtedly," Savoy told Local 2.
One Houston video posted on You Tube caught Local 2's attention.
Adrian Rodriguez shot the middle finger at a Harris County sheriff's deputy. While his behavior may be offensive, it is not against the law. The deputy seems to be aggravated in the video, asking Rodriguez and his passenger six times why he made the rude gesture at him.
"It was basically a test, yes, if he would pull me over," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez didn't show the deputy his license and insurance when the deputy wouldn't tell him specifically why he stopped his vehicle. The video shows the deputy open Rodriguez's car door and pull him from the vehicle. The officer laid him on the ground and cuffed him.
"Apparently, the police officer was just disrespected," said traffic attorney Paul Kubosh. "The way I see it, it was an illegal stop. And anything after that was just wrong."
Rodriguez claimed he didn't have to show the deputy his driver's license because it was an unlawful traffic stop.
Local 2 discovered the truth is somewhere in the middle. When an officer stops you and approaches your vehicle, they do have to have a legitimate reason, or what's called reasonable suspicion, for pulling you over, but there is no law requiring the officer to tell you that reason at any certain time during the stop.
"You're going to find out the reason if he issues you a citation. If he issues you a warning, a verbal warning at some point, the reason for pulling you over comes out," said Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen.
Rosen said drivers operating a motor vehicle are always required to show their state-issued license. Kubosh said he agrees.
"The law's real clear," said Kubosh. "You have to show an ID to a police officer. You have to ID yourself."
However, you don't have to roll down your window all the way, answer any questions or allow police to search your vehicle, he told Local 2.
"If the officer seems belligerent or a little too aggressive, ask for a supervisor," said Kubosh. "If he refuses to get a supervisor, then call 911."
Rosen said even if you believe the officer made an unlawful stop, record it, but you should take that argument to the department's Internal Affairs investigators or a judge.
"In terms of arguing your case for or against why you were pulled over, it's best to leave that to the court system," said Rosen.
In Rodriguez's case, the deputy finally gave him a citation for making an illegal lane change.
Local 2 asked the Harris County Sheriff's Office about the legality of the traffic stop. HCSO spokesman Alan Bernstein emailed the following statement:
"The HCSO's Office of Inspector General has been investigating this incident on its own initiative. The investigation is pending. Information from any witnesses you interviewed is always welcome."
Videotaping your own stop is perfectly legal, but Kubosh said he tells his clients it's better not to do anything that will make your traffic stop memorable to the police officer. By the time your case makes it to court, if the officer doesn't remember it, there's a greater chance he or she won't even show up and your ticket will be dismissed.
Tuesday morning, find out how every police officer in Texas is trained to conduct traffic stops.
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