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Connecticut criminal defense lawyer for traffic stopsTraffic stops have been a topic of discussion recently due to multiple incidents in which people were killed by police officers after being pulled over for minor traffic violations. The most recent high-profile case, which took place in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, involved Daunte Wright, a Black man, being killed after being pulled over for an expired vehicle registration. In that case, the officer claimed that she meant to use a Taser, but accidentally drew her firearm instead and fired a fatal shot. 

Unfortunately, these types of situations occur all too frequently. Many drivers, especially those who are minorities or people of color, worry that they will do the wrong thing after being pulled over, leading police officers to take violent action and injure or kill them. By understanding the right steps to take during a traffic stop, drivers and passengers can avoid being harmed and protect their rights if they end up facing criminal charges.

What You Should Do During a Traffic Stop

Police officers may pull drivers over for a variety of reasons, including speeding or other traffic violations, as well as issues such as expired license plates, broken headlights or tail lights, or because a vehicle matched the description of one that was involved in an alleged crime. In many cases, officers use these types of stops as a pretext to make a criminal arrest for drug charges or motor vehicle theft. If you are stopped by police, you will want to do the following:

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Hartford criminal defense lawyer for police misconductOver the past several years, a great deal of attention has been paid to the issue of police misconduct. In several high-profile cases, police officers have been accused of using excessive force, especially against minorities. This was most recently highlighted in the case of Daunte Wright, who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. This particular case has highlighted an issue that affects many Black people and other minorities. Police officers often pull people over for minor traffic violations, but these incidents may lead to more serious criminal charges, and an encounter may turn deadly, resulting in serious injuries or death.

How Police Use Traffic Stops as “Fishing Expeditions”

Traffic stops are meant to protect public safety, and police officers may stop a driver who has committed traffic violations such as speeding, running a red light, making illegal turns, or other unlawful actions that endanger others on the road. However, officers may pull people over for other types of violations, such as an expired registration or a broken tail light. 

In many cases, traffic stops for minor violations are used as an attempt to find probable cause for other more serious offenses, and people of color are disproportionately targeted in these types of situations. In the case of Daunte Wright, the officer cited him for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, stating that this was an obstruction that affected his view of the road. Many people have alleged that police officers perform these types of traffic stops in hopes of uncovering criminal activity that will allow them to make an arrest. By using a minor traffic violation as a pretext, officers may then ask about whether a driver has stolen the car or whether they have been using drugs, and they may arrest the driver based on their answers, their behavior, or the officer’s observations of objects inside the vehicle.

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state police, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIn light of increasing concerns over police violence and the right of the public to film officers as they respond to calls and incidents, very few videos have been made public that provide insight into the discussions between responding officers on the job. Recently, one such video from West Hartford has gained a level of notoriety as a protestor from Connecticut captured a conversation between Connecticut State Troopers as they seemed to fabricate justifications for citing him. Despite promises from the State Police to investigate the matter, there has been no publicized action involving the officers as of yet, and the man is due in court next month in his effort to get his citations dismissed.

Open-Carry DUI Checkpoint Protest

The incident arose when 27-year-old man mounted a protest against a DUI checkpoint near an Interstate 84 exit ramp in West Hartford last September. Choosing to exercise both First and Second Amendment rights, the man held a sign warning motorists of the checkpoint and encouraging them to remain silent, while openly carrying a holstered handgun. Connecticut is an open carry state, and the man had both a license to carry and a valid permit for the weapon. Within about an hour, Connecticut State Troopers arrived, secured his gun, and confiscated his video camera. One officer can be seen on the video saying that it is illegal to take his picture. Without realizing that it was still recording, the troopers placed the camera on the roof of a cruiser.

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one dollar verdict, appeal, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIn a case that began nearly a decade ago, a federal appellate court recently rejected a New Haven man’s appeal of a $1 verdict. The nominal verdict was awarded in the man’s civil suit, during which he claimed the use of excessive force by police officers from Hamden and New Haven in the course of his 2006 arrest for assault.

According to reports, police were called to the man’s house, and when he refused to answer questions, a warrant was obtained for his arrest. When police attempted to arrest him, the man tried to flee in his car. Police stopped the vehicle and removed the man, who reportedly swung at officers and tried to run. The man grabbed a tree branch, swinging it like a baseball bat, trying to fend off police. In the end, four officers subdued and arrested him.

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