NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey man claims he was harassed by police and has video evidence to prove it, but the police dashcam of the officer who pulled him over was also recording — and police said that video shows a completely different set of events.
CBS 2’s Christine Sloan exclusively obtained the police dashcam video.
Leonard Cephas posted his side of the story on YouTube, claiming police harassment.
“Are you detaining me? Are you detaining me? My mother’s on his way and I’m not getting out,” Cephas said in the YouTube video to the officers who pulled him over.
Facing the camera, Cephas continued, “I am scared right now for my life, because stuff are happening to black people, and I’m scared right now.”
But police emergency lights activate cameras, and police dashcam video of the night’s events tells a whole different story, Sloan reported.
“You were speeding through a residential area,” the officer said.
The recording shows Cephas running a stop sign, but North Brunswick police Officer Richard De La Cruz becMW suspicious after the 29-year-old handed over his license and insurance card, Sloan reported.
“I smell weed coming from here,” De La Cruz said. “Why don’t you remove the seat belt and step out of the vehicle.”
Cephas then refuses, rolls his windows up and locks his doors, Sloan reported.
For 30 minutes, the officer patiently pleaded with Cephas at least 20 times.
“Leonard, open the window,” the officer said. “Leonard, listen to me — turn the car off.”
Cephas called 911, and other officers showed up on the scene. De La Cruz then asked his supervisor what he should do, Sloan reported.
“When he smelt marijuana, he is obligated then to get that driver out of the car and see if he’s impaired,” explained North Brunswick Director of Police Kenneth McCormick.
De La Cruz explained that if Cephas didn’t roll down his window, he would break it. And after banging on the window with a baton, police did break the window with a tool, Sloan reported.
“He just asked me to step out of my car without any reason and no probable cause,” Cephas said. When Sloan pointed out that the officer said he smelled pot, Cephas said: “I don’t believe that’s true. When they went in my actual car, they found no pot.”
Police, however, said they found two bags of marijuana. Cephas was charged with driving under the influence and resisting arrest.
When asked why he didn’t just get out of the car, Cephas said, “Well, I’m tired of getting out of my car every time.”
Supervisors said De La Cruz was staying calm under pressure, not knowing what Cephas would do next. De La Cruz is also an Iraq War veteran.
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