Garage Talk — June 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

Motorcyclist arrested over bogus charge

Note: MDStreetScene has a STRICT policy of respecting law enforcement officers. We appreciate their service – especially when it involves catching “car guys” in stupid behavior that tarnishes the responsible enthusiasts image. We have sections on the forum where users can ask law related questions and get the opinion of former police officers. We enforce our policy of respect in any “stories” users share regarding being pulled over or their experience with a police officer. We do NOT allow baseless bashing or disrespect. Such content is removed/closed/and dealt with accordingly. With that said, the following commentary has no broad generalizations towards police – but rather focuses it’s opinion SOLELY on the actions of this Sheriffs Deputy and this situation.

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, Chris Moore, a sport bike rider in Dallas, was pulled over (and later arrested) by Dallas Deputy Sheriff James Westbrook. The Sheriffs office contends that the sport bike population had been previously causing issues on the area highways. (Reports say the previous years Memorial Day biker ride got so out of hand they shut the freeway down.) Moore, wearing a helmet mounted video camera, was picked from the dozens of riders in the pack because he potentially had footage that Deputy Sheriff James Westbrook thought he could use against other riders. And that is where this story takes a turn in the “what the heck is going on? direction.

The rider, Chris Moore, was actually riding slower than the pack and was not doing anything inherently wrong. So when Dallas Deputy Sheriff James Westbrook pulled him over, he was a bit perturbed. Moore did have a little bit of an attitude (nothing that should have prompted an arrest) which probably didn’t help his case with this Sheriff Deputy. Moore tells the officer that he wasn’t doing anything wrong and asked why he was stopped – out of a group of dozens of riders. In the helmet cam video, Westbrook is CLEARLY heard saying he pulled Moore over so that he could confiscate his camera to use as evidence against the other riders in the pack. This is his first explanation to the defendant as to why he was pulled over – no real offense mentioned! Westbrook goes back to his cruiser and runs Moore’s information – and is probably figuring out a way to make this illegitimate traffic stop more legitimate in order to confiscate Moore’s helmet camera. He comes back out and immediately tells Moore that he’s UNDER ARREST for having an obscured license plate (I assume slightly flipped up under his real tail.) Really, that’s an arrestable offense??! Moore is arrested and spends several hours in jail. Bike impounded, etc.

The Dallas Sheriffs department says they are launching an internal investigation into Deputy Sheriff Westbrook’s actions. The department was quick to release dash-cam footage of other motorcyclists, though NOT Chris Moore, egging on patrol cars during the ride . It feels like a “but hey, look at what these other guys were doing” distraction of the public’s attention at this unwarranted arrest with video of other people misbehaving.

It is extremely irritating to see this abuse of police power. First of all, what happened to having a legitimate reason for pulling someone over. The officer clearly says he’s pulling Moore over to use his own private property for evidence against someone else. Also, since when is having an obscured license plate an arrestable offense?! (If it is in Texas, than that’s a little ridiculous) Well, in order to seize the video camera, the rider would need to be arrested. Inexcusable. There could be so many complications and implications for the receiver of this type of brash and overreaching police conduct – time wasted, money to defend themselves, money to get the bike out of impound, this event going on someones record, etc.

There is no denying that police have an extremely difficult job. The public (and media) does a lot of Monday-morning-quarterbacking – which can be frustrating, but police still need to be held accountable and work within the law. I know that police are presented with difficult situations everyday, and they need to quickly asses the situation and be the first to react to control the situation – but this just wasn’t good police work. Brazen use of power that violates constitutional rights needs to be stopped. Just like there are some bad apples with sport bike riders – there are some bad apples in the police department – both should learn that not everyone is bad or conforms to a stereotype.

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