Bristol, TN — If ever you think that all traffic laws are for your safety, one thing can change that view—window tint. In the land of the free, if police feel that your window tint is too dark, they will claim the right to extort money from you. If you resist this extortion, police will claim the right to kidnap or kill you. Unfortunately, in the land of the free, these instances happen so frequently that they are often caught on video too. The video below, however, is different as it shows what happens when cops speak out about the predatory nature of such laws.
Bristol police officer Phil Kiersnowski was fired this month—not for killing a little girl or beating an innocent father so badly it paralyzed him—but for calling out the department’s policy of detaining and extorting people for the shade of their window tint.
The incident began when Kiersnowski pulled over Sam Lundberg, who happens to be the daughter of Tennessee Sen. Jon Lundberg. During the stop, Kiersnowski seemed apologetic that he was being forced to write this window tint citation and so he began to voice his opinion to the senator’s daughter.
“I am going to give you a citation only because the admin’s on our ass,” Kiersnowski said quietly as he tried to cover up the microphone on his lapel. He then went on to infer to the young woman that her dad could change this policy of extorting drivers over how much sunlight they let in their vehicles.
“One phone call from your dad will probably save us a lot of heartache,” the officer said. “One call from your dad would probably make all of this go away and probably save all of us a lot of heartache,” he said.
After his daughter was extorted for her window tint, Sen. Lundberg called the chief to joke about that fact that his wife was also ticketed the same day.
“At the time, I thought it was actually kind of funny,” he said. “Since I have a personal relationship with the chief I called him and I was truly laughing and said, ‘Hey chief, I’m on my way back from Nashville, I’m about an hour away, if you’re targeting my entire family, I’ll be there,’” he recalled. “He said, ‘We’re not targeting your family.’”
After the phone call, Chief Blaine Wade asked the senator to come to the department and view the body camera of his daughter’s stop. When he walked into the chief’s office, Kiersnowski’s badge was on the chief’s desk—he’d been fired.
“He was at his desk and literally he said, ‘There’s the officer’s badge on my desk, he has been relieved of duty and he’ll be fired within 24 hours,’” Sen. Lundberg recalled. “My reaction is, ‘Fired for what?’”
A memo released by the department explained exactly why he was fired.
“After reviewing the video, it is apparent that Officer Kiersnowski attempted to disable his audio which could be evidence and is also part of the official records of the police department,” the chief said in the Nov. 30 memo. “Officer Kiersnowski was insubordinate with his attempt to persuade someone to take action to change police department policy that he does not agree with.”
“My wife has been in tears over this,” the senator said. “My daughter has been in tears. She thinks she’s at fault for this. Should he have said, ‘Hey, one call and this could go away?’ No, he shouldn’t have. Should he have covered up his microphone? No, clearly, but all of those are I think teachable moments.”
Sen. Lundberg went so far as to hire Kiersnowski an attorney in an attempt to get the officer his job back. However, the offense was apparently so horrific that his termination appeal was upheld and he will not be a cop.
“I never should’ve covered the mic,” he said, regretting that part of his decision. “I regret that decision, but I stand by the comments I made. The way I went about it was wrong, yes.”
While window tint laws are certainly a problem, illustrating the predatory and revenue generating nature of police, the truly frightening part of this scenario is how quickly Kiersnowski was fired.
Kiersnowski expressed an opinion about an incredibly unjust law and he was fired for it. Yes, he tried to cover his mic as well, however, TFTP has reported on countless instances in which cops have muted mics, turned off cameras, or outright destroyed evidence to cover up robberies, beatings, and murders and they still keep their jobs.
In fact, as TFTP reported this month, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Michigan just ruled that cops can legally turn off their cameras before searching a person’s car during a traffic stop.
When cops are fired for trying to promote less tyranny and oppression while other cops who rob, beat, and kill people all keep their jobs, it’s time to pay attention. Something has gone horribly wrong.
Below is the entire video of the stop. As you watch it, remember that even though officer Kiersnowski spoke up against the window tint law—he still wrote the ticket—perpetuating the oppression through the “just doing my job” fallacy.