Campbell, CA — A disturbing video was submitted to the Free Thought Project this week showing a Campbell police officer holding a couple at gunpoint on the side of the highway for an extended period.
Feo Mas, the passenger in the vehicle, tells TFTP that he was on the way to a job interview and his girlfriend, Amanda Galan was going to work. The couple allegedly exceeded the speed limit and were pulled over by a Campbell city police officer and then held at gunpoint.
According to Mas, the officer is Daniel Stromska with the Campbell police department. Stromska, who collects a $188,000 annual paycheck to pull people over, became frightened of the couple during the stop and so he held them at gunpoint.
The resultant video shows the dangerous nature of fearful cops and how at any moment their lack of courage could lead to the death of an innocent person.
For ten minutes on the side of the road, Mas and Galan were staring down the barrel of Stromska’s pistol.
Stromska claimed that Mas “reached under the seat” and that this was enough to assault the couple with a deadly weapon. However, Mas said he was just trying to get the paperwork Stromska requested.
As Stromska aims his gun at Mas’ chest, the officer tells him to calm down. Naturally, Mas has a rather difficult time remaining entirely relaxed as a cop holds him at gunpoint. However, even though he did talk, Mas never yelled or otherwise posed any threat to the officer.
Mas tells TFTP that when the backup officer arrived, Mas was removed from the vehicle and handcuffed. No weapons were found in the vehicle.
At the end of the stop, Galan was issued a speeding ticket and Mas was cited for not wearing his seat belt. However, while the camera is rolling, we can see that Mas actually had his seat belt on.
TFTP reached out to the Campbell police department who responded with the following statement:
After contacting the driver and passenger on the side of the highway, there was approximately five minutes that elapsed prior to the start of the Facebook video. During that time, there was a cordial conversation between the officer and the occupants of the vehicle where he explained why he had stopped the car and requested the driver’s license and additional paperwork. Both the driver and passenger spent several minutes looking for the requested paperwork. The officer informed the occupants to wait in the vehicle as he prepared to walk back to his motorcycle to write a citation. It was at that time that the passenger began reaching under his seat. It is not clear why the passenger chose to reach under the seat since the officer was not requesting any other paperwork.
Unfortunately, the passenger’s unexpected movement towards the bottom of the seat, caused the officer to perceive a threat and draw his handgun. The officer requested additional officers respond to assist him so that he could safely resolve the situation. The comments on the Facebook video bring up a lot of different viewpoints about how the officer could have responded differently or used different tactics. Our officers receive a tremendous amount of training on a consistent basis and that training is what dictates our response. This is intended to protect our officers as well as those they come in contact with. The unfortunate reality is sometimes people attack police officers, as tragically occurred in the City of Los Banos this morning when two officers were shot.
While the department claims that Mas was reaching for something under his seat, it was clear after the stop was over that there were no weapons or any other reason for Mas to have done so, other than paperwork. It is also clear that officer Stromska kept his body camera covered during most of the stop.
Mas tells the Free Thought Project that he respects police officers and appreciates what they do, but that Stromska took it too far.
“First off, I’m American, not Mexican, not black, not white, not Asian. I’m American born and raised in America,” Mas said, noting that his race should not have anything to do with this stop. “I respect all officers that protect and serve like the motto says, not officers like this.”
When watching the video below, we can’t help but be reminded of the case of Philando Castile who was gunned down by a cop under very similar circumstances. Castile was the passenger in a vehicle and was merely reaching for paperwork when a cowardly officer, Jeronimo Yanez, feared for his life and murdered him.