An Ohio police officer threatened to take away a couple’s baby after the father refused to show his ID during a traffic stop.
Officer Christopher Denny stopped 30-year-old Kathryn Said after watching her pick up 34-year-old Andre Stockett about 7 p.m. Wednesday outside an apartment building, reported the Sandusky Register.
The Sandusky police officer said he believed Stockett was another man, Jeremy Newell, who was wanted on felony warrants.
Denny stopped Said’s car a short time later because he said her Ohio license plate number indicated her driver’s license was expired, and she handed over her valid driver’s license from Michigan, where she lives in Taylor.
Stockett, who is black, began recording video as the officer returned from his patrol car, and Denny asks for his ID and orders him to step out of the car.
He asks the officer why, and Denny tells him he looks exactly like a wanted felon.
“But that’s not me,” Stockett says. “I don’t have to ID myself.”
The officer said Denny offered conflicting reasons for the stop – from the expired license plate to driving without headlights at dusk.
Denny brought a K-9 unit to search outside the car, where the couple’s two-week-old infant was also riding, for drugs because the officer said Said appeared “nervous.”
The officer said the dog alerted him to the presence of drugs, and Stockett loudly insists that Denny is “full of sh*t.”
Denny told the couple their children would “go to Children’s Services” because they were obstructing a police investigation.
“This baby is not about to be taken from me,” Said told the officer.
The Sandusky police chief told the newspaper he didn’t see the mention of Children’s Services as a threat, and he said he “would rather it not be taken as a threat.”
But an attorney for the couple said threatening to take away children to “further the interest of the drug task force” was problematic, and he said the officer’s probable cause was dubious.
“To establish probable cause, (police) say, ‘Oh, the person’s nervous,’” said attorney Geoff Oglesby. “It appears now this is a script.”
But the police chief backed Denny’s actions.
“Let’s say … she wasn’t nervous at all,” said Chief Phil Frost. “You have a legal reason to be there and a legal reason to identify him, how much more do you need? All of it could’ve been solved if he just shows his ID.”
The couple got out of the car after about five minutes and were arrested on obstruction charges.
Stockett said he plans to take the case to trial to prove he did nothing wrong.
“It was so unprofessional,” Stockett told the newspaper. “I tried to compose myself as long as I could … My girl takes the baby out of the car, and they search the car seat. I’m sitting in a police car, and I can’t do nothing about that. He’s two weeks old. I don’t know where it goes from here.”
Watch video of the traffic stop posted online by Emory Williams: