A casual traffic stop over an inoperative brake light by a police officer in Dearborn, Michigan, on August 3, 2012, took a weird twist when the cop discovered that the passenger of the 1999 GMC Jimmy was HIV positive.
The police dashboard video that was obtained by national news network The American Independent, and which was released in late September, shows Dearborn Police Officer David Lacey pulling the truck to the side of the road and then approaching the driver, Mark Scott, and asking for his papers.
The officer told Scott that he can smell weed, something that both the driver, and his passenger, Shalandra Jones, deny, though Scott later admitted to have smoked marijuana earlier in the day.
“I’m not worried about a little bag of weed or something like that,” Lacey said. “If you’ve got a dime bag, please let me know.” Jones admitted that there was marijuana in the car and handed it over to the cop adding that she was a registered medical marijuana patient in the state of Michigan but was afraid because her card might have expired.
Lacey removed both the driver and the passenger from the car to check out the vehicle and at around 14 minutes into the video, he appears to discover some pills and asks Jones "what are these ones", to which she responds, "I'm HIV positive".
Later on, and after giving Scott two so-called "fix-tickets", one for not having his driving license and the other for the faulty brake light, Lacey turns to Jones and tells her:
“OK, I explained it to Scott. I asked him if he had anything and he said, ‘No.’ Stuff like that, as soon as I’m getting you out of the car, ‘Sir, I’d like to tell you I’m HIV-positive.’ Whatever it is. Tell me right away. I explained to him, you know, this is the west end of Dearborn. It’s a relatively nicer area, and we usually don’t have a lot of stuff like that around here.”
He continued: “I understand that what you have isn’t something I could get, but it makes me nervous … I don’t want to take it home to my family. Honestly, if it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I would have wrote anybody for anything. But that kind of really aggravated me, you know what I mean? You got to tell me right away, ‘I’ve got this. I’ve got that.’ ‘Cause at that time, I wasn’t wearing any gloves.”
“I wrote you for the marijuana,” Lacey added telling the woman that she had to renew her marijuana-card and contact the court within 14 days.
The August 3 incident led to Jones filing a complaint against the Dearborn Police Department.
The Detroit Legal Services firm representing Jones issued a statement in which its president, Attorney Joshua L. Moore, had this to say about the incident:
"Officers of the law are here to protect and serve, not harass and humiliate. The Dearborn Police Department must immediately commit to HIV education and sensitivity training for all its employees in order to even begin correcting this horrible wrong. There is no legal obligation to disclose an HIV status during a routine traffic stop. This is a clear case of civil rights violations and discrimination due to ignorance."
Police Chief Ronald Haddad also issued a statement saying Jones' allegation is under investigation and that "We take these matters very seriously. We want our officers to be peak performers, and a complete review will occur."
The Dearborn Police Department said that officers will undergo special training to improve their interactions with people who have HIV or AIDS.
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