A longtime columnist for Missouri’s Columbia Daily Tribune wrote an article about being pulled over for a routine traffic stop that occurred 10 days prior that he described as dangerous and one that helped him “better understand how minority motorists feel when they are pulled over for the most trivial reason, or no reason at all.” Bill Clark is not a minority; he’s an 84-year-old white man who believes he was targeted because of his “liberal bumper stickers” which identify him as “an aging hippie with a weed habit.”
“I’m lucky I didn’t get shot,” Clark recalled. “Sirens wailed and when I stopped, two officers were out of the sheriff’s vehicle. When I reached over to turn off the radio and then take my wallet out of my pocket to produce the driver’s license and insurance card, I realized my hands were not at the top of my steering wheel. Danger lurked and official arrogance was to follow.”
Ol’ Clark, as he refers to himself, defended his failure to use a turn signal and blamed the deputies for serving up “a good dose of arrogance” during the stop. He said he could see the second officer in his rearview mirror -- “his hands ready in case I made the wrong move.”
“My life seemed to be in danger,” Clark claimed. “I fully understand how a person can lose their respect for law officers. When you are in the shoes of the minority, you learn a lot more about their journey.”
Then came the dashcam footage which destroyed the narrative he fabricated for his column and proved he was the only combative one of the bunch. Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey saw something completely different than what Clark described:
“I kept waiting for the ‘official arrogance’ that Ol’ Clark wrote about, but I only observed a professional young deputy do exactly what I expect her to do; her job in a manner consistent to our motto. The field training deputy is on the passenger side of Ol’ Clark’s vehicle listening to the interaction, which is common for a two person unit and especially for a deputy in training.
“The deputy finishes her contact by telling Ol’ Clark to drive safely and she then thanks him. The nerve of law enforcement these days! Both deputies walk back to the patrol vehicle and again no inappropriate conversation, no derogatory comments about Ol’ Clark, no laughing or joking, just professional conduct.”
Concerned that “integrity… is becoming a thing of the past,” Sheriff Carey contacted the newspaper’s managing editor, Charles Westmoreland, and then released his own written response calling Clark’s version of events “sensationalism at its best.” Westmoreland responded:
“In the video I saw two professional deputies performing their job by the book, and a somewhat confused and irritated motorist, unaware of what he had done to draw the attention of local law enforcement. It certainly wasn’t worth writing a scathing column about, and the Tribune should not have published it. For that I apologize to the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and readers who feel they were misled by Clark’s column.”
Westmoreland said Clark will issue a written apology in Saturday’s paper. And though he maintained he saw no threat to Clark’s life from the video, he added, “I wasn’t inside his head and can’t say he didn’t feel threatened.”
“Clark deserves consideration for his past contributions to the Tribune and our community,” Westmoreland concluded. “He will, however, be suspended indefinitely and his historical segments and thrice-weekly commentary will not appear again until we’ve had the opportunity for further review.”
Maybe Clark can get a job at CNN. They're hiring in their "Fake News" department. He'd fit right in!
The New York Post has the dashcam video: