If Possible, Record Video of Interactions with Police

Our friends at Greater Greater Washington recently posted a story where a person riding his bicycle was assaulted by someone in a pickup truck and then ticketed by police. In light of that incident, Jed Weeks, Bikemore’s Board Chair, shares his experience with the Baltimore City Police from last September:

On September 28th, 2013 at 2:15am I was riding my bicycle home from the end of the Baltimore Bike Party after-party with my girlfriend riding several yards behind me.

As we were riding northbound on Huntingdon Avenue, approaching 29th Street, the driver of a black Mazda 6 blared her horn, revved her car’s engine, and swerved her vehicle at my girlfriend, nearly striking her.

This vehicle pulled up alongside me at the intersection of Huntingdon and 29th Street where I was waiting at the red light. I gestured at the driver of the vehicle with an incredulous hands-in-the-air motion and yelled “What do you think you are doing?”

At this point I saw a passenger in the Mazda hand a pair of scissors to the driver, who then exited the vehicle holding the scissors, and began to scream that she would “f**king kill us.”

I called 911 as the driver reached back in her vehicle and grabbed various objects and hurled them at me, culminating with an open bottle of water that struck me in the chest and drenched me. The driver of the Mazda got back in the car, and ran the red light, turning left onto West 29th Street and disappearing.

Minutes later, several police cars and a paddy wagon arrived. Police Officer Pitts refused to take a report of the assault at the scene, saying “the driver may have just been a DUI and may not have purposely swerved at you.” When I said I was not satisfied with her response to my request for a report, Officer Pitts implied if I were to be any more difficult, I may end up in the back of the paddy wagon myself.

At this point I asked for the officer’s badge number and my girlfriend and I rode back to her house 2 blocks away. I then wrote an email to Lt. Colonel DeSousa, the Chief of Patrol, who had tailed Baltimore Bike Party that evening in his cruiser. He immediately responded, saying the officer should have filed a report, and forwarded my correspondence to the Commander of the Northern District. Several days later, Detective Plater from the Northern District called me to go over my story from the evening. He said he would interview Officer Pitts and get her side of the story, and then get back to me. About a week later he called me with a police report number, and told me that Officer Pitts had been disciplined for failure to write a report at the scene.

I was very pleased with the attentive nature of the police officers I dealt with in the follow-up to this incident, and I requested a copy of my police report, which I received a month after filing my official request and payment for a copy of the report.

The report claimed “that an unknown black female driving a red car, possibly a Mazda, threw water at [my] face after [I] banged on her car window and yelled at her to exit her car.”

That did not happen, and I never said it happened.

So, I followed back up with Northern District. Unfortunately, Officer Pitts maintains I said it was a red car, and that I said I instigated the incident (as outlined above). According to the Police (and despite my girlfriend backing my story), this comes down to a he said/she said situation, and Northern District cannot change the report as written, nor can they take any further action with Officer Pitts.

The police officers in leadership roles that I have spoken with seem to take poor performance from officers in their department very seriously, but without physical proof they are unable to take appropriate action.

As a result of this drawn out interaction, I suggest video recording all interactions with Baltimore Police patrol officers, no matter how insignificant. If I had recorded my incident, there would be proof that Officer Pitts was being untruthful, and I am 100% confident the commanding officers and detective I spoke with would have acted quickly and professionally to deal with unprofessionalism and dishonesty in their ranks.

Record your interactions with police if possible, and contact Bikemore if you are treated inappropriately by the police.