If law enforcement officers stop you, do you know what you should do to make sure the encounter does not turn into a deadly confrontation? You should! But as I often say, common sense is not common.
Do you know what your legal rights are? Monique Pressley, principal of The Pressley Firm PLLC, explained in an interview with Roland Martin what you should and should not do during a police encounter, even if you feel your rights are being violated.
Pressley believes the information shared will help you make it home safe, and in some instances, keep you alive.
Roland Martin asked Pressley, “If I get stopped by the cops, do I have to obey every single order that they give?”
“There are two answers, the first one is the one that is going to keep you alive and that’s yes. The second answer is the one that reflects what your rights actually are, and that’s no, not if they’re giving you an order that is unlawful.”
Pressley expounded on her second answer, saying, “If they (police officers) are supposed to be just stopping you and they don’t have any probable cause to do anything, they don’t have a right to search your car, they’re just doing a stop. They don’t have a right to search your person and dig in your pockets, they don’t have probable cause to arrest you, they don’t have a reason to detain you — you’re supposed to be able to do quite a few things.”
“But frankly, there are certain people’s names right now that have become hashtags because a stop that could have gone one way ended up going tragically wrong,” she added. “That’s why Michael Brown’s name is a hashtag and his death is so tragic. That’s why Eric Garner’s name has become a hashtag, because those were times where there was a stop and then potential for an arrest and someone ended up dead.”
Pressley went on to detail what she tells individuals who she has counseled:
“If you get stopped by the police, if you are in your vehicle and you get stopped, if you are walking and you get stopped, the first thing you need to be thinking is ‘this is not my day to die.’”
During the segment, Pressley offered a series of statements that individuals should say repeatedly if they are stopped by law enforcement officers:
- I am going to remain silent
- I want to see a lawyer
- I do not consent to this search
A. Scott Bolden, Partner at Reed Smith LLP said, “What practically happens on the street — The police don’t have to read you your Miranda rights at all, they’re not obligated to do that. They should if they want to interview you.”
If officers ask to see your ID and you don’t comply, you could be arrested. Bolden said, “In a lot of jurisdictions, you can get arrested for that alone.”
Panelist Chanelle Hardy, Senior Vice President for Policy and Executive Director of the National Urban League, explained that when you are stopped, “You’re not going to be able to make this go in a way that protects your dignity. You’re not going to be able to do anything that you feel you have a right to … You need to be thinking about how am I going to address this later — Am I going to be alive to get whatever justice I’m due.”
Pressley also suggested if you are stopped by cops, make a phone call, turn the speaker phone on, place the mobile device in open view of the officer so that he/she knows, “It is not just you and me out there.”
When it comes to video taping officers during a police stop, Pressley said, “You put the camera down when they tell you to put the camera down, leave the camera open, leave it going if you can.”
“When you’re given a command by law enforcement in your head, you’re saying ‘today is not my day to die.'” She offered the following rule, “A nervous police officer is a dangerous police officer, so when you understand who you are — African-American male, dark road black of the night, what you do when they say that is put it down.”
Each day we must utilize the tools that will make the next day possible.