Archive for  August 16th 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa — A recent traffic stop by Des Moines Police Officers Kevin Tiese and Natalie Heinemann is currently under review after driver Montray Little and passenger Jared Clinton filed a complaint.

This incident has raised questions about what motorists should do during a traffic stop.

The Iowa State Patrol has an information sheet about what to do when you get pulled over by law enforcement and that’s what Attorney Robert Rehkemper said he follows when advising a client.

“Well you have to be polite first of all. Announce the movements that you’re going to be making, that’s always beneficial. Be responsive to their requests and maintain your composure the best that you can,” Rehkemper said.

Rehkemper said it’s also important to be still until the officer requests something from you and keep your hands visible.

“So if you were to just get out of your car when law enforcement stops you, they’re going to have a problem with that. So what you want to do is you wait, if they are asked to get out of the car, as the driver, you are required to exit the vehicle,” Rehkemper said.

In the traffic stop on July 15, the officer did not state the reason for the stop, asked Little and the passenger to get out of the car, handcuffed Little, searched them both, put Little in the squad car, and searched Little’s car.

“That young man did everything he should have done and was supposed to do and credit to him, maintained his composure, while his rights were being violated,” Rehkemper said.

Rehkemper said you are not obligated to allow police to search your vehicle and you have the right to say no.

“They had no consent to search you notice the officer at the end trying to say it smells a little bit like weed. There’s some questionable authority under Iowa law that would allow law enforcement or could allow law enforcement to search, but there was nothing discovered which makes you question, was there truly an odor or was that and excuse the officer was giving to try to root through the car?” Rehkemper said.

The passenger’s mom agrees they did everything they were supposed to do.

“They were so mature the whole time. I mean they were very respectful to these officers. Even at the end, they shook their hands and told them to be careful out there. They were so professional and so mannerable. I don’t understand how they were able to keep it together, but I was proud,” Laural Clinton said.

View the body camera video of this traffic stop here.

“I think it’s important to understand that the young men in the situation did everything right, they were compliant, they were respectful and they maintained their truth. But most importantly, they said something about it afterwards because if people don’t speak up about these situations nothing gets done about it. And if nothing gets done about it they continue,” Rehkemper said.

 

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Laural Clinton, a Des Moines mother with three african-american sons remembers the July night vividly.  “I  cried and I felt like they wanted to set up my son to injure him.”  It is a situation Laural Clinton says she prepared all of her sons for, hoping they’d never need her advice.  Des Moines police dash and body cam video on July 15th shows her son Jared Clinton riding passenger with his friend Montray Little when the two were stopped by Des Moines police officer Kevin Thies and Natalie Heinemann.   Video shows Officer Thies telling Little, “I’m gonna be honest with you, it smells like marijuana in the car and I can see shake on the ground and your buddy is giving me the idea that maybe he’s got a gun.”  Later in the video, Little asked, “Officer can I ask you why?”  Thies responded, “Because I just told you. Step out of the car. If you don’t want to go to jail please listen. I told you that I’m a cop. Face the car when you step out, face the car when you step out, face the car when you step out. Don’t flex. I don’t know what you’re doing man.”

Laural says the men were never told why they were pulled over and believes the two were guilty until proven innocent.  Body cam video also shows Officer Heinemann having a conversation with Jared Clinton, asking him about his heavy breathing.  She said, “Why don’t you like being pulled over by police?”

Jared’s mother says situations like what is in the video can be a strong reason why her son does not like being pulled over.  She said, “I want to be able to tell my sons to trust the police. They are here to help but if this is the way they are going to engage with these young men we are going to have a problem and they aren’t going to trust you.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement claims officer Thies has a history of similar traffic stops. They claim Polk County booking records show that of Thies’ 282 arrests in 2017, 100% were black.  When looking at interference with official acts charges, twenty-six were black compared to five white.  All numbers Des Moines police strongly contest.  Sergeant Paul Parizek with the department says “These are horribly inaccurate. We are finding right now it is nowhere near one hundred percent.  They do a lot of good work but for an organization whose mission is supposed to be community improvement, this type of attack on us is the most irresponsible thing they could do.”

Police found no weapons, no drugs and after briefly detaining Montray, made them empty a bottle of liquor but let both go freely without any citation.  Laural said,”I think the chief needs to acknowledge that there is a problem on his police force. Until you acknowledge it, you can’t do anything.”

The incident is now under administrative review and police cannot comment on the video.  Parizek said, “If we had a case where somebody was intentionally, deliberately racial profiling, one, that would shock us and two, they wouldn’t last long in our organization.”

Thies and Heinemann stay on active duty while the administrative review is being conducted.  Iowa CCI members plan to meet with Des Moines City Council members on September 6, to discuss racial profiling within the community.