Allentown, PA — A video was uploaded to Facebook over the weekend that is sure to stoke controversy over how to act when you are being stopped by police.
A junior high student, Jaquan, was riding bikes with some friends when an Allentown police officer stopped him and accused him of “crossing against the light.”
According to Jaquan, he did not cross against the light. However, the conversation would quickly shift from a jay-walking accusation to the officer demanding to know the teen’s name. If the teen does not provide his name, the officer says, he’ll arrest him.
It should be noted that Pennsylvania is not a stop and identify state. Police may question a person detained in a Terry stop, but in general, the detainee is not required to answer. Even when the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that person has committed a crime, the person is still under no obligation to provide their name.
Of course, not giving one’s name to police during your interaction with them could increase the possibility of arrest or a prolonged detention. But, in some instances it could also help you. In cases of mistaken identity, for example, if you have no identification other than your name, you could be arrested based on the name you give officers.
Jaquan was merely exercising his 4th and 5th Amendment rights, and he was arrested for it.
While we cannot obtain information about the arrest record due to Jaquan’s age, he was likely charged with jay-walking and obstruction, if anything. This would be in spite of the fact that the officer said numerous times that he will arrest Jaquan if he did not give his name.
During the video, Jaquan’s friends made the interaction more difficult by heckling the young man. What these kids should have done is remain silent themselves and only film.
When the officer stopped Jaquan, he should have politely refused to give his name and then ask, “Am I being detained?” If the officer said “no,” Jaquan should have then calmly walked away. Incident over.
Or, if the officer says, “you are being detained,” simply invoke your 5th amendment right to remain silent.
If you are arrested and the officer continues to question you, then use the magic words “I’m going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer.” If the officer is persistent in continuing the questions, repeat those words again. They are your best protection if the unfortunate situation arises in which you are arrested.
In the video below, the cop acts as if it’s Jaquan’s fault that he is being detained, when it was officer using his own discretion to keep him there.
As Jaquan continues to assert his rights, the officer then says, “You can make this simple, or you can make this hard. I can take you in and have your mom [come get you.]”
“Take me in for what”? asks Jaquan.
The officer then replies, “Because you don’t want to give me your name or address.”
A few moments pass and Jaquan is arrested. This young man eventually succumbs to the thought of being kidnapped and he gives his name through tears.
There was no victim.
There will likely be two reactions to this video, either supporting this kid or decrying his actions. Some will say that this kid should have just given his name and it all would have been over. But can you, without a doubt, really believe that would have been the case?
In America today, we have seen people kidnapped, caged and killed by police despite the fact that they were completely innocent and doing what the officer asked. Compliance and innocence are no guarantee of safety in a police state.