Editor's Note: Seriously, it is not a crime to not wear a seat belt. It really isn't. That's not to say you shouldn't wear them, but honestly, in most cases, these are he said, she said. The video you are about to see is extremely disturbing, especially in light of the fact that the couple was no threat to the officers and there was no need for the violent reaction of them.
Taos, NM — An extremely disturbing video was shared with the Free Thought Project this week highlighting the level of force and violence police will go to in order to enforce a citation over an alleged seat belt violation. What’s more, according to the victims of this brutal use of force, they had their seat belts on and were falsely accused.
Antony Page and his friend Angela Fisher-Herrera were harming no one, had committed no crime and were simply travelling down the road last February to do some shopping at a local Walmart. During their trip, however, they were targeted for extortion by a New Mexico State Trooper, identified by Angela as Officer Cabanas.
When Cabanas approached the vehicle, Antony rolls the window down two inches—which is entirely legal so long as the officer and the vehicle operator can hear each other. Cabanas, however, immediately tells Antony to roll it all the way down, to which Antony politely replied, “no thank you.”
Likely due to the fact that Antony refused to roll his window all the way down, Cabanas, according to Angela, then demanded Antony exit the vehicle. Again, Antony politely refused.
In a statement to the Free Thought Project, Angela explained that the trooper then told them he stopped them for not wearing their seat belts. However, according to Angela, they always had them on.
“Cabanas continues by asking for Antony’s license and registration, while we are telling him that we have been wearing our seat belts and that we are recording. He tells us that he has us on his camera not wearing our seat belts. We tell him that is a lie, and we want access to that footage, to which he responds, ‘not right now, we can argue that in court,'” Angela explained.
Fearing that they may become victims of police brutality, Angela calls 911 to request another officer.
“I finally call 911 because as far as I know, we don’t have to exit the vehicle like he has ordered the driver to do, we are on an unpopulated street with a hostile officer and no witnesses on our behalf,” Angela said.
According to Angela, 911 dispatch directed the pair to not say anything, so, they listened.
Finally, other officers from the 911 call arrived, but the situation then went from bad to worse as those officers begin trying to force their way into the vehicle as well.
Remember, this entire stop was over an alleged seat belt violation and, only a few minutes in, this otherwise entirely innocent couple was surrounded by cops wanting to do them harm.
As a few minutes pass, Angela explains that dispatch continues to tell them to remain silent. However, according to Angela, by this time, the supervisor on the scene was even trying to break into the car.
Angela shared a photo of their car with TFTP which indicates that they may have been victims of profiling, as their vehicle was covered on all sides by peaceful antiwar and anti-tyranny stickers.
According to Angela, the entire interaction was captured on video and proves they had their seat belts on. Angela explains that they are keeping the full video to present at their trial.
However, after ten minutes had passed, that’s when Angela pulled out her phone and began recording the video below.
As the video shows, Antony and Angela are entirely peaceful and are only passively resisting. However, unable to wait any longer, one of the officers grabs the window with his bare hands and shatters it.
He then reaches in and grabs Antony’s arm as Angela pleads with them not to break it.
Three cops pull Antony from the vehicle and slam him on the ground, shouting at him to “get on the ground!” and “You’re under god damn arrest!” During this assault, Antony was not resisting, according to Angela.
Another officer then reaches in and attempts to grab Angela’s camera at which point she says she turned it off and threw it in the back seat. According to Angela, she was then dragged from the car, thrown to the ground and placed under arrest as well.
After the couple was arrested, they fought the charges. When they went to court, the judge dismissed the case as the arresting officer failed to show up. However, after finding out the case was dismissed, according to Angela, the same cop brought the charges against them again and a warrant was issued for their arrest.
Angela tells TFTP that they are planning to fight these charges in hopes that they can help to change the way these officers are trained to prevent further violent interactions like this one.
The Free Thought Project attempted to get the New Mexico State Police version of this incident, however, it has been three days and we’ve yet to receive a response.
As the video below illustrates, in the land of the free, you can and will be stopped by those who claim to keep society safe, dragged from your car, kidnapped and caged, all for being accused of not wearing your seat belt. This is shameful indeed.
If you’d like to peacefully voice your concern over what you see in the video below, you can do so on the New Mexico State Police Facebook page, here.
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