Can police officers stop drivers hanging air fresheners?


The mother of a 20-year-old black man, who was hit deadly by police in Minnesota this week, says everything started when police pulled his son because he was hanging air fresheners from his rear-view mirror.

How can air fresheners be the basis for traffic outages? Answer: Minnesota is one of the states that has enacted legislation that prohibits drivers from hanging objects from their rear-view mirrors because items can obstruct their view.

The law has led to fierce complaints from civil rights defenders that police can use them as an excuse to stop black drivers.

Daunte Wright was pulled by police on Sunday at the Brooklyn Center on the outskirts of Minneapolis. Police said he was stopped because the car’s registration tag had expired, but Wright’s mother said Katie Light, He called her shortly before being shot and said he was pulled because of the air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Police tried to arrest Wright after he realized he was being asked for an unpaid warrant. In a subsequent battle, Officer Kim Potter shot him.The city police chief, who resigned on Tuesday, said he believed Potter intended to fire her. Taser, Not her gun.

Potter, who also resigned, was charged with manslaughter.

How many states prohibit drivers from hanging things from mirrors and windmills?

There are at least five such laws in California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, and Illinois, but the total number is unknown. The National Assembly of Parliament does not track such legislation. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been keenly criticizing such traffic outages, was uncertain how many states allowed them.

Minnesota law does not specifically mention air fresheners, but with certain exceptions such as sun visors, rearview mirrors, and electronic toll collection devices, “things hang between the driver and the windshield. Do not drive or operate the car in this state.

In Virginia, it’s still illegal to hang things in a way that obstructs the driver’s view, but last year the state legislature changed the law to prevent police from stopping the vehicle just for the crime. Under the new law, police must first have another main reason to stop the driver.

Brad Haywood, secretary-general of Justice Forward Virginia, a defender of criminal justice reform, was pulled as a public defender for having items hanging from the rear-view mirror (such as air fresheners and rosary beads). He said he represented dozens of people.

“I don’t remember in my career as a lawyer on behalf of someone who stopped because the white view was obstructed,” he said. “It was just black and brown people.”

What do the police say about these laws?

According to police, traffic suspensions due to minor violations helped resolve more serious crimes such as drug trafficking, illegal gun possession, and shooting. They often say that the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was stopped by soldiers on the Oklahoma Highway Patrol after driving without a license plate about 90 minutes after the 1995 explosion, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds. I will quote an example.

Joe Gamaldi, a police sergeant in Houston, the vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said finding a police officer with whom he worked was “hard.” rearview mirror. But he said traffic outages due to minor offenses could lead police to find evidence of other crimes.

“Simply stopping someone because the taillight is off can lead to drug and gun investigations, because the gun is about to be used in drive-by shooting, and it can be stopped. Cars, we can prevent it, “he said.

“If you don’t want to stop someone because of air fresheners or (automobile) equipment issues, you’ll have to go to Congress to change the law,” he said.

Are there other cases where people were stopped because of air fresheners?

In Arizona, Deputy Sheriff Elimax of La Paz County was fired about five months after pulling a 22-year-old black man in September 2019 for hanging air fresheners from his rear-view mirror.

Phoenix News Times First report Encounter of Deputy Sheriff and Philip Colbert. In a video recorded by Colbert and later posted on YouTube, you can hear Max telling Colbert that he pulled him for a small pine tree air freshener. Max repeatedly asks Colbert if he smokes marijuana and if he has cocaine or heroin. Colbert was not arrested and did not receive a ticket.

In Bakersfield, California, the city raised $ 60,000 in a lawsuit filed by a black man who claimed to have been arrested in 2017 after stopping a car in which police were riding for trivial reasons such as hanging fragrances. Agreed to settle from the rearview mirror. According to the proceedings, the man was imprisoned for 12 hours but was not charged with charges. The city did not accept responsibility.

In Chicago, police pulled out two black men in September 2018 for hanging air fresheners from their rear-view mirrors. The officer found a weapon in the car and charged the man with illegal possession of a gun by a serious offender.

The man argued that air fresheners were not a sufficient reason for traffic suspension and that evidence should be suppressed. The Federal Court of Appeals found the suspension legal, as police suspected that tree-shaped air fresheners obstructed the driver’s view in violation of city regulations.

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