Compton, CA — In the land of the free, revenue collectors, otherwise known as police officers, are tasked with the enforcement of arbitrary traffic "laws." Many of these laws are designed — not to keep society safe — but to extract revenue from citizens to fund government operations. As TFTP has reported over the years, police are authorized to use violence to enforce these laws and will escalate their use of force to potentially deadly actions to ensure compliance. As the following video shows, police have no problem resorting to deadly force over parking tickets and window tint.
Last month, 30-year-old Travis Elster was harming no one as he waited for his mother inside a takeout restaurant. However, the fact that he was harming no one was of no concern to the two LAPD officers who targeted him for revenue collection and harassment.
When officers approach Elster, one officer tells him to roll down his window as another gets in front of his vehicle to block him from leaving. The reason for the stop? Illegal parking. However, Elster was not "parked" at all. He was in gear with his foot on the brake which makes the entire alleged premise for the stop unlawful. As you watch the officers escalate the situation, however, it becomes entirely clear that illegal parking was not at all one of their priorities.
"Roll down the window? What's up, bro?" the officer says.
"Just waiting for my mom, sir," Elster replies. A person can be seen standing at the counter of the takeout restaurant where Elster is idling.
Elster then offers to pull his car out of the way, to fix the alleged illegal parking job. If these officers truly served the people of Compton, this stop would have ended here and they would have gone on their way. But their job is not to serve, it is to extort and escalate.
"Can you turn off the car for me? You have dark windows," the officer says, defying all logic as to the original reason he stopped Elster in the first place. If the officer really cared about illegal parking, why would he force Elster to remain parked there?
"I'll go over there for you sir," Elster politely says. Again, this incident should have ended here. It did not.
"Turn off the car for me," the officer says.
This officer is showing Elster that he has every intention of escalating the situation. He is not serving or protecting anyone.
"Let me move the car first," Elster says.
"No, just park it and leave it here, Okay?" the officer says, once again defying the logic of the original stop.
By this time, Elster has decided that he doesn't want to be extorted or killed over this unlawful detainment, so he decided to drive away. This decision nearly proved fatal for him as LAPD officer Carlos Tovar decides to pull his gun and dump 8 rounds at the fleeing car.
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Not only did Tovar shoot at a fleeing man, he also fired several bullets into the street as innocent civilians drove by.
In under a minute, these officers went from talking to a man waiting for his mother inside a Chinese food takeout restaurant to endangering the lives of innocent motorists — all to allegedly enforce a law about illegal parking.
Elster would actually escape police and ended up losing them inside a Target store after changing clothes. Police would then go to the media and claim Elster attempted to kill the officer. An APB would be issued for Elster's arrest for assault on an officer with a deadly weapon.
It is clear from the video, however, that no assault took place and Elster did everything he could to turn away from the officer when he fled. In the screen shot below, we can see Elster's tires turned away from officer Tovar, in an overt attempt to avoid hitting the officer.
Despite Elster posing no threat, and despite the fact that he was able to easily get out of the way, officer Tovar opened fire and attempted to kill Elster — a clear violation of the department's police on deadly force and fleeing vehicles.
Firearms shall not be discharged at a moving vehicle unless a person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle. The moving vehicle itself shall not presumptively constitute a threat that justifies an officer’s use of deadly force. An officer threatened by an oncoming vehicle shall move out of its path instead of discharging a firearm at it or any of its occupants. Firearms shall not be discharged from a moving vehicle, except in exigent circumstances and consistent with this policy regarding the use of Deadly Force.
The only part of the policy with which Tovar complied was to move out of the way of the vehicle.
Elster is now facing years behind bars because of this stop.
Remember as you watch the video below that Elster had committed no crime and was merely idling in gear in a parking lot as he waited for someone picking up food inside a restaurant.
If Elster was a white man in Beverly Hills waiting for his mother to pick up food in a restaurant, do you think police would have even engaged him at all? If they did engage him, do you think they would have let him simply move out of the way? If he did drive off, do you think they would have tried to kill him?
These are important questions to ask.