Talladega, AL -- Father of three, Corey Dickerson was out for a jog Saturday night when Talladega's finest decided they needed to harass him. Dickerson is not your average pushover, however, and he knew exactly how to handle himself.
As the video begins, Dickerson was resting from a hard sprint when officer Price of the Talladega police department decided to detain him.
Officer Price begins his 'fishing' expedition by firing off random questions at Dickerson, in a likely attempt to get him to self-incriminate. But Dickerson is no fool.
When Dickerson legally refuses to answer questions, officer Price starts in with the usually, "Well, we've had a lot of burglaries and thefts, and we don't know who you are." In other words, "a black man jogging at night is suspicious, so give me your id."
The police "not knowing" who Dickerson is, does not create the reasonable articulable suspicion necessary for a lawful detainment. At this point, officer Price's detainment of Dickerson becomes unlawful.
reasonably suspects (he) is committing, has committed or is about to commit a felony or other public offense and may demand of him his name, address and an explanation of his actions.
Simply claiming that there have been burglaries in the area does not constitute reasonable suspicion -- and Dickerson knew this.
As officer Price attempts to provoke him, Dickerson remains completely calm, only giving his first name and he firmly asserts his rights. Dickerson then follows up with the most important questions you can ask when you are stopped on the street by police, "Am I being detained? Am I free to go?"
However, officer Price answered back, that yes, he is being detained and no, he is not free to go, further solidifying the illegal nature of the stop.
While this incident is no laughing matter, officer Price's reaction to Dickerson's next question is Price-less.
When Dickerson says, "So you guys can detain me for anything whatsoever?" officer Price is left speechless. The gears in his head could not turn fast enough to formulate an excuse for the unlawful detainment, so he fakes a call on the walkie talkie.
At the 3:05 mark, after Dickerson asked the question, Price picks up his radio, holds it to his mouth, presses the button, and then puts the radio back on his belt. At no time during this charade did Price ever open his lips to say anything.
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After Dickerson gets his name, officer Price admits that it's not just him they harass, they stop people all night long and harass them too.
When his backup arrives, officer Price tries to justify the stop by saying, "Well, he was standing over here, and I was concerned about it." He then goes on to chastise Dickerson for his decision to film the encounter by saying, "He wants to get this all on video." -- as if that is a bad thing.
As the video goes on, Price hands over the "investigation" to his backup officer who admits he saw Dickerson jogging earlier, and had no reason to stop him. At this point, the officers should have admitted they were in the wrong and let Mr. Dickerson go. However, they were already well vested in their unlawful detainment and began to grasp for straws.
At every attempt to justify their illegal detainment, Dickerson shuts them down.
The "good cop," who showed up second, also claims that the "burglaries and thefts in the area" are why they stopped Dickerson and then he cites a case that "they just got off of over here." The officer then explains that there was this allegedly recent and new case of young lady from Pennsylvania just had her door kicked in twice.
When the Free Thought Project spoke to Dickerson, he explained to us that he knew the woman who the officer was talking about.
"I actually know her, and her house did get broken into but that was years ago, and she's been back in Pennsylvania," he explained. "You can't trust what these guys tell you, cause they will say anything they feel will get them what they want."
Eventually, after the officers continue to press him, Dickerson stopped recording and called his sister to inform her of his harassment.
Because he was cordial, articulate, and well-informed, Dickerson eloquently ended his own unlawful detainment without incident.
It could be a long time before we stop police harassment in this country. In the meantime, however, knowing your rights and how to assert them will keep you from becoming a victim during these unlawful stops.
To those who will undoubtedly say that Dickerson should have just shown his ID and it would have been over -- that is the problem.
In a free society, all humans have a right to travel freely without being stopped and forced to "show their papers." If history has taught us anything, it is that handing over one tiny bit of your rights to the state will inevitably result in the loss of even more rights.
Give the police state an inch, and it takes a mile. Society would do well to stop giving away its inches before there are none left to give.