Body cam footage shows a police officer in Mississippi saying a black motorist “drives like an idiot,” and that is nowhere near the most tense part of the video–the cop threatens to “empty a magazine” into the vehicle. Now this officer is on leave, and the Mayor wants him off the job.
The footage, first obtained by The Commercial Dispatch via records request, shows Officer Keith Dowd of the Columbus Police Department making a traffic stop for speeding on Aug. 18.
“Where are you going to in a major hurry?” he asked the motorist, later identified as Joshua Hibbler. The next 12 minutes show Dowd making a pretty thorough grilling. He questioned the driver about where he was going (home), asks why the driver’s home address doesn’t match the address on his license, and asks if he has ever ticketed or arrested.
Dowd learned the car belonged to Hibbler’s girlfriend.
“Does she know you drive it like an idiot?” the officer said. He later asks Hibbler to stick out his tongue. From that, Dowd accuses the motorist of having smoked marijuana because of the color of his tongue.
“I smoke black and mild,” Hibbler said.
“You smoke weed,” Dowd insisted. When the driver continued to debate, the officer said he’d bring out a detective, they’d scrape Hibbler’s tongue, and then charge him with possession.
Dowd said Hibbler’s statements about going to school and playing football were false, and told the motorist several times to keep hands on the steering wheel. He threatened to impound the vehicle, continued to accuse the driver of being dishonest, and egged him to confess to possessing marijuana before the K9 unit arrived.
Then Dowd told Hibbler to stop moving.
“Listen to me, next time you reach, it’s going to get ugly,” Dowd said at the video’s most tense point. “Because you’re kind of appearing to me to be the kind of twitchy kind of person who has done something wrong–Listen to me. So all this reaching and grabbing, whatever, I guarantee you, before you think you can do something, I can empty a magazine into this car.”
And then he lets Hibbler off with just a warning.
Columbus Mayor Robert E. Smith is none too pleased at what he saw in the video. He ordered Police Chief Oscar Lewis to put Dowd on administrative leave with pay, pending the result of a city council hearing next Tuesday.
“I am directing you to do so immediately because it has also come to my attention that Officer Dowd has exhibited similar behavior on at least two other traffic stops prior to 8/18,” he wrote. “I also believe Officer Dowd is a threat to the safety of the citizens of this community, and I want him off the streets now.”
Law Newz reached out to the Columbus Police Department for comment. It’s worth mentioning that Smith’s letter was published to their social media accounts.
Columbus Mayor Robert Smith directs Police Chief to remove officer from duty “immediately”. See below. pic.twitter.com/ql1CtzdCZM
— Columbus MS PD (@Columbus_MS_PD) September 14, 2017
[Screengrab via Columbus Police Department]