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Video: Just a Routine Traffic Stop or Racial Profiling?

May 25, 2016, 12:15 AM by  J. Gabriel Ware

The officer asked about the rims

By J. Gabriel Ware

Last month, Walter Reid, 33, of Port Huron was driving his black, 2001 Grand Marquis with 24-inch chrome rims when a Michigan State Police trooper pulled him over for a traffic stop. 

The trooper said he was speeding, going 10 over. Reid denied speeding and accused the trooper of racial profiling. The trooper accused him of being argumentative.

Reid also implied the trooper had stepped over the line during the April 23 traffic stop in Port Huron when he started asking how much he paid for the rims, why he had rims like that on the car and what he did for a living?

The officer tells Reid he was asking some of those questions to ease the tension and lighten up the conversation.

"All I can say is that all [police officers] aren’t the same, and you can’t base an opinion off of previous contact,” the officer told Reid. “Speeding is speeding and is a violation of the law. It’s not racial profiling.”


Reid videotaped a portion of the stop and posted it on Facebook, saying it was an example of racial profiling. In an interview with Deadline Detroit he  said he believes he was pulled over for being black and driving with fancy rims. The State Police issued a statement to Deadline Detroit saying the officer acted properly.  

Walter Reid

Michigan State Police troopers are trained to stop motorists only if there is a violation of the Michigan Vehicle Code or they have cause to believe criminal activity is afoot.  Stopping motorists without proper grounds or using race to select whom a trooper stops is in direct violation of the department’s Code of Conduct and Official Orders. Trooper Cavner’s actions in this video were appropriate and in line with department policy.

The video provides a glimpse into the untold number of routine traffic stops locally and nationally and the distrust or uneasiness that sometimes plays out between white police officers and African American motorists.  In this case, the stop ended uneventfully. The officer gave Reid a warning and let him go.

Reid told Deadline Detroit that he’s been racially profiled before and that the recent traffic stop was another case of it.

“If you don’t record it, then the police is going to get away with doing whatever they want to do to you,” he said.

Below is the video recorded by Reid. Let us know what you think. 

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