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Police: “Shut up or get ticketed” – Vermont traffic stop leads to federal civil rights dispute (VIDEO)

Posted by Austin Petersen • 16 Sep 2013

Rod MacIver received a faulty ticket in December which lead him to suing the small Vermont town of Shelburne. He arrived at court to fight the complaint but the judge in small claims court had to postpone the hearing. The police officers who were defending themselves were advised by their attorney to skip the court date and go to a local coffee shop instead. Now the ACLU has gotten involved and slapped the town with twin federal civil rights cases.

The ACLU believes that the officers violated MacIver’s Fourth Amendment rights in pulling him over for no reason and his First Amendment rights when the officer told him to “shut up or get ticketed”. Police initially argued that their video showed a violation, but then conceded later he was wrong and the man apparently committed no crime. Now the police are left to fight off MacIver and the ACLU.

The traffic stop in question:

MacIver has set up a website to draw attention to his case. On it he writes

“I’ve set up this website because I’ve had three contacts with the Shelburne Vermont Police Department and in all three instances, including once in court under oath, the officers of that department have been deliberately deceptive and dishonest. For instance, please see the judge’s reaction to the testimony of Officer Jason Lawton in “Court Testimony.” Dishonesty seems to be ingrained in the culture there and encouraged, or at least condoned, by the management of that department (see email from Sergeant Allen Fortin under “Complaint”).

The assumption seems to be that dishonesty is okay because it is unlikely that the general public will ever find out about one-on-one dealings between the public and its officers. I’ve set up this website to prove their assumption incorrect.

Basically, I was pulled over in the middle of the night for no reason, and when I objected, admittedly in strong terms, the officer gave me a ticket for something he knew I didn’t do — run a red light.”

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  • David Bresett

    Sure did look like he ran a red light at the very beginning of the film. The pickup went through the intersection and the light went green for the cop. There’s an interval that could be easily proven by timing the light.

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  • Jonathan

    I had a similar thing happen to me Medford, MA. The state cops had set up a sting operation at a busy intersection and were pulling people over left and right for “running the light.” There were big flashing signs at the intersection stating that anyone caught causing gridlock in the busy intersection would get a 250 dollar ticket, so most people were running the light to avoid gridlock. I was already out in the intersection when the light changed to from green, to yellow, to red, so I went through it to get out of the way of traffic. I got pulled over, I got a ticket. There was no explaining to the dip of an officer, who clearly needed to meet quota, that the light had been yellow when I was in the intersection. Though he did not even have me on camera, as he wasn’t even in a car when he pulled me over, I paid the ticket anyhow and then I bought myself a dashcam. The next time a cop pulls me over and tries to pull a dishonest stunt, I’ll have my case on camera and he can try arguing against my camera in court. With cops being more dishonest daily, I advice everyone to invest in a dashcam.

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  • Yourownfault

    The officer thought he went through a red light. There was no singling anyone out he made a mistake. Now if you are police officer, its your job to pull people over and give them a ticket kinda how they get paid. They are not there to argue with you, that is what COURT is for. so yeah, shut up take the ticket and go to court. If everyone argued with the police on these things it would be a mess and you are wasting time.

    Bottom line: If you are pulled over, 95% chance you deserve to be pulled over. Its not the police offers job to argue with you. Just take the ticket, go to court and fight it. IF you want want to be in these situations, avoid racing through yellow lights.

    • JLou2

      If you actually watch the video, at no point does the guy run a red light. Stop defending corrupt cops.

      • Yourownfault

        The officer thought he ran a red light, he was wrong. I dont get why he would pull him over for fun, does not make sense to me. Even Corrupt cops would not randomly stop a man in a regular car. I think there was a lapse and judgement, they guy pulled over should get paid and that’s the end of it.

        Media blows these things out of proportion. And no matter what it does not dismiss my point i mentioned earlier

        • JLou2

          He “thought” the guy ran a red light? How? All the lights he went through were solid green. The only red light encountered was for the turn lane at the intersection. The cop most likely was just trying to get his quota.

          • Yourownfault

            We all have lapse in judgement, its not like he shot at him, arrested him or profiled him.

            He screwed up and got in trouble for it. As for quota, its not that hard to get them i dont think he would pull some one over for no reason for that.

            Pick on the cop who shot the kid with the hose, or the one shooting at a van full of kids, this really is not comparable

            • MissDiane47

              Keep right on defending these corrupt cops. Some day, when the same thing happens to you, remember your current username.

              • Yourownfault

                So far so good, i dont commit crimes and cops seem to leave me alone, go figure

                • MissDiane47

                  That depends on what type of crime you’re talking about. You could be cheating on your taxes without knowing it even if you have filled out all the papers correctly and thoroughly; that is a federal crime, especially if you end up being audited by your unfriendly neighborhood IRS agent.

                  • Eric the Red

                    I’m convinced yourownfault is just a troll.

                    You can see from the video exchange the cop doesn’t believe his own bullshit. “pulled you over for running a red light” (cop waits for his light to turn green before pulling out—thus meaning AT THAT POINT the cross traffic light is red) then changes it to “crossed the white line”

                    I know you don’t want to believe it…but you have to deal with the fact that cops lie. This one got caught–good for the driver dude.

                    Then look at the cops not showing up for their court appearance and instead heading to a coffee shop instead. Guess they have great respect for the law they’re sworn to uphold and protect, huh?

                    The town and police department deserve every bit of the headaches from these lawsuits.

                    • MissDiane47

                      Yep, I was thinking the same thing about yourownfault – a troll with nothing better to do.

                    • Yourownfault

                      i guess a troll is someone who has their own opinion? thats a good way to end a disagreement :)

        • JonEdHil

          I’ll tell you why. The cop was hoping he was drunk or high. Then he could give any reason he wanted, no one would be viewing this video. Unfortunately for him, THIS time, the driver was not intoxicated. Cops do this all the time, especially late at night. It’s not necessarily that they’re “corrupt”, just a little dishonest! Note that he adds–much later than the original reason–that the driver “went over the white line”. They do make this stuff up on the fly. I know this.I have family members who are cops.

          • Yourownfault

            Thanks Jon, I think you have a good point. And I am against cops giving tickets just because they can. I feel that the government is much better at making money than using money wisely.

            The point I was trying to get at is that, mistakes are made, I bet when the cop realized he screwed when he saw the video. However he did not pull the guy over just because he wanted to mess with someone. there are bad cops out there im sure, but demonizing the people that are here to protect us is not fixing the problem.