When police pull over motorists, there's a great deal of confusion and a huge potential for violence. The New York Times found that during the 13 minute encounter between Memphis police and Tyre Nichols, they shouted at least 71 commands.
The commands often made no sense. For example, one officer kept shouting for Nichols to show his hands, even though that officer was holding his hands.
There are too many people like Tyre Nichols dying at the hands of police officers.
Nichols was in no way responsible for what happened during his fatal encounter with police.
The horrific episode got us thinking about some "best practices" for dealing with police if you are pulled over.
Stay in the vehicleDo not exit the vehicle under any circumstances unless told to do so by the police. Always wait for the officer to approach your vehicle rather than leaving your car to approach the police.
Turn off the car
Partially open the window. If it is dark outside, turn on the interior light. When the interior is well-lit, the officer is less concerned about weapons or other potential threats. Put your hands on the steering wheel. A person in the passenger seat should put their hands on the dashboard.
Stay CalmGetting pulled over is stressful and scary. Always stay as calm as possible. Avoid sudden movements. Control your mouth and your body language. Show the officer your driver’s license, insurance card and registration when requested.
Know Your RightsLearn your rights before you are pulled over. Those rights include:
- The right to remain silent –Tell the officer you are exercising this right rather than just ignoring the officer. You do not have to tell the officer where you are going, where you have been, where you live, or what you are doing. Depending on the state, you may have to provide your name. Failure to identify yourself can result in arrest.
- The right to deny a search of yourself or your belongings –While you do not have to consent to such a search, you must consent to being patted down if the police officer thinks you are carrying a weapon.
- The right to an attorney –If you are arrested or the police detain you, inform them you want to speak with an attorney immediately. Do not sign any documents or say anything else until you have spoken with a lawyer. Remember that anything you say can be used against you in court. After arrest, you may make a phone call to an attorney – and the police cannot listen to that call. They can, however, listen to any other calls they permit you to make.
This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.
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