A video of an arrest in Cleveland, Tenn., has surfaced by a young man named Robert Jerry who is seized doing sales with a woman coworker whose cellphone camera records his 14-minute ordeal of being searched and jammed into the cage in a police cruiser.
Mr. Jerry says he “showed him my credentials,” an act that in the past “de-escalated any interaction I had with officers.”
But the a Nov. 1, 2018, record shows him to have been subject to a popular misreading of the “resisting arrest” statute that disfavors the citizen for the convenience of the officer.
“In the video you will witness the false arrest and excessive force by these three cops who are in fact still employed by CPD and im sure im not the only person they have done this to.”
“This incident not only traumatized me but it also derailed my career with AT&T for sure and any job I tried to get, sending me back to square 1 and on the verge of bankruptcy.”
A call to the police department today asking to speak to a press officer was not returned.
‘What’s going on?’
The woman says, “What is going on, sir? What is going on?”
“Do you know him?” a cop asks.
“We all work together,” she says.
“I’m not fighting,” Mr. Jerry says. “My hands are — “ They have him on the back trunk of the cruiser, and his arms are bound behind his back. Three officers surround him.
“This is unnecessary, this is unnecessary,” Mr. Jerry says. “I work for AT&T.”
“Our boss can verify everything,” the woman says. “We are just working. We all have on the same [clothes],” she tells the officers.
“You guys are violating my rights. I do not consent to a f–king search.”
Cops are taking things from his pockets in a pretended Terry patdown for weapons. “That’s a search, dude,” Mr. Jerry says. “For what?” he demands. “I don’t have any weapons. You guys have a taser and a f–king gun — I don’t have anything.”
“You don’t have any right to search me right now. You don’t have any type of probable cause.”
They speak to him to “stop resisting.”
“I’m not resisting arrest because I’m not arrested,” he says.
“You are,” a cop says. Mr. Jerry is standing quietly next to the cruiser, with the three cops very close to him.
From Terry patdown to search
“You just said I’m not arrested.”
Cop: “You are now.”
The police push him toward the open door, and try to shove him backwards into it. A slight struggle ensues as an officer reaches behind his bottom to lift his legs to force him off balance and into the car marked “POLICE.”
Mr. Jerry’s unidentified colleague keeps speaking, “Sir, that is unnecessary.”
“Don’t put me into the car,” Mr. Jerry cries. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I need your sergeant out here right, now,” he says. He says several times, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“That’s me,” one cop says.
They manage to push and pull him into the cruiser.
“You’re failing to cooperate,” a cop says, their victim’s legs still out of the doorway.
A cop threatens to pepper spray him unless he retracts his legs.
“There’s no talking to him,” the cop tells the woman, tucking his spray bottle back into his belt. “He’s going to jail.”
Officers slam the door shut.
“For what, though,” she implores.
“We were patting him down for weapons, and he resisted,” the cop says.
By law there has to be an articulable probable cause or an articulable suspicion for an officer to think he has authority for a Terry patdown. Young people near a parked car at an apartment complex, by itself, is not sufficient, even if two of the three are black. The resisting arrest statute is routinely misread, because resisting arrest requires the use of force.
He comes up to the woman and her camera. “Do you have any weapons on you?”
“No I do not. I am just working,” she says.
“It was simple. We were out here checking him for weapons while we were standing out here with him searching his car.”
The cops are “just patting him down for weapons,” another person undergoing a body search.
“He was not doing what we told him to do,” a cop explains. “We were lawfully allowed to do everything we did. He resisted.”
‘This is government property’
Another cop says, “We’re completely easy to get along with.”
The cop explains to the woman that they had checked her papers. “This is government property. This is government housing, right? I got complaints about people going door to door. So I come over here to investigate.” The officer understands that Mr. Jerry is “probably selling something for somebody. No big deal.”
“Your friend — Robbie you keep calling him? — Robbie is very evasive with his answers. He will not answer my questions, will not give his social security number. I can’t figure out who he is. He doesn’t give me any kind of state ID. So, from that point, I have to start trying to pull information from him.He finally gives me his birthday. He tells me he’s from Florida. We’re trying to figure out who he is. He won’t tell me.”
“We’re with AT&T,” the woman says.
“I get that part, OK?” the cop says. “You’re still required to carry a state ID — bottom line. And he’s refusing to give it to me.”
The cop refers to another person in the car, a young Caucasian man, whom he says gives consent for a search of the car. “We walk to the car, to get Robbie out of the car. Every time we get somebody out of a car we pat them down for weapons. That’s what we do. For everybody’s safety. That’s when Robbie refused to cooperate. When I pat this gentleman down over here, he fully and completely cooperated. Not a problem. Robbie wouldn’t do that. That’s where we’re at. Now we’re gonna search the car and go from there — OK?”
As the cops hover at the car to get the woman’s umbrella, the discussion enters on the question of solicitor permits. A cop says “If you are going to solicit in the city of Cleveland, you need to have a solicitor permit.” The woman says their supervisor has it. She has been working for AT&T for three years, and has not had a problem.
The officer says the employee is to have the permit with them.
The cop, leaning into the back door of the car, says “Yes he does” need to go to jail, “He was resisting me. He was resisting arrest. He was detained up until the point he was trying to resist.”
The cop is searching the car, lifting the seats to peer under them as raindrops spatter against the open door window. He unzips a closed knapsack in the front seat and goes through its contents.
The cop insists that the Terry patdown is not a search, and that he has authority to pat down a person “for my safety.”
At the end of the file, she obtains his belongings, but not his ID, because the officer says he needs it at the jail.
“Let me tell you what I was doing. I was getting you out of the car to check you for weapons. You weren’t being searched. The driver of the vehicle ***. I wasn’t searching you. I was patting you down for weapons. *** I was not [searching you]. After I put cuffs on you, you were under arrest.” Mr. Jerry was arrested for pulling away.
“I did not commit any crimes,” says Mr. Jerry in an FB post, “and I was arrested for resisting arrest which i was well in my right to do because I did not commit any crimes. I was literally on the job. I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell my story since then.
39-16-602. Resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest or search — Prevention or obstruction of service of legal writ or process.
(a) It is an offense for a person to intentionally prevent or obstruct anyone known to the person to be a law enforcement officer, or anyone acting in a law enforcement officer’s presence and at the officer’s direction, from effecting a stop, frisk, halt, arrest or search of any person, including the defendant, by using force against the law enforcement officer or another.
“The entire force of both Bradley County sheriff’s office and Cleveland police department are corrupt,” Mr. Jerry says in his post online. “They treat the inmates like animals and the food is below health standards, yet [the mayor] still fund[s] them.
“When I was arrested, I met a guy who was being held without any charges. He was black. The racism in this city is definitely here and they wave their flags proudly.”
Where is probable cause, warrant?