NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — In Norfolk traffic court, the profanity-laced body cam video 10 On Your Side first brought you exclusively back in January was front and center.
In a late-morning hearing, Judge Michael Rosenblum sat on the bench with a clear view of television monitors attached to the walls to his left and right.
25-year-old motorist Ebony Holmes and Norfolk Officer Vincent Tocco faced the judge but they were separated by defense attorney Amina Matheny-Willard.
No children were present for the public hearing and at one point the judge sent spectators to a nearby courtroom.
From a laptop at her fingertips, Matheny-Willard hit play and displayed a video officer Tocco’s body-worn camera recorded around 1:16 a.m. on the morning of July 5.
What started as a routine traffic stop quickly escalated into a tense exchange that ended with Holmes, an Emporia resident, in handcuffs and in tears.
The court heard the same exchange 10 On Your Side aired on January 25.
This is a transcript of a portion of the video played in court Monday morning:
Officer Tocco: “Is there a reason why you were driving 100 mph? … Can you shut the car off for me? Is there going to be a problem? Do I have to pull you out of this car?”
Ebony Holmes: “Who?”
Officer Tocco: “You.”
Ebony Holmes: “I didn’t say nothing.”
Officer Holmes: “I don’t need the attitudes … I don’t need you looking around.”
Ebony Holmes: “You’re pulling people out for speeding?”
Officer Tocco: “It’s reckless driving when you are going 100 mph. You’re almost triple it. You know step out of the vehicle. Get out of the [expletive] car.”
Late last year, Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone ruled Tocco was in violation of department policy and appropriate action was taken. 10 On Your Side was not told Tocco’s employment status with the police department and a spokesperson said no comments would be offered because it’s a personnel matter.
In Monday’s hearing, Matheny-Willard presented two pre-trial motions that sought to have reckless driving and misdemeanor obstruction charges dismissed on procedural grounds: Tocco failed to present a summons rather than an arrest warrant and that the court did not have jurisdiction since neither the commonwealth nor the city attorney was present to represent the commonwealth for Monday’s hearing.
But after seeing officers Tocco’s back-and-forth with Holmes on video and the — at times — tense back-and-forth with the defense attorney, Judge Rosenblum essentially called a “time out.” At one point, he admonished the officer, saying Tocco was not allowed to ask Matheny-Willard questions. After the judge and the defense discussed points of law associated with the motions, both agreed to continue the motions hearing until April 25 in order to conduct more research on case law and relatively new legislation that could affect the case.
After the motions are addressed, then the court will hear the reckless driving and misdemeanor obstruction charges against Holmes.
The image shared with 10 On Your Side earlier this year are the physical bruises Holmes says were caused by Tocco. Tocco told the court Holmes hit him hard using her car door. Outside court, she described the psychological bruises left by the incident.
“For a while, I wasn’t even driving. For a whole month, I stopped driving, [stayed] in the house. But now when I see a cop, I’m not speeding. I’m slowing down either way… It’s a big thing to where I’m on guard about me… Now paranoid to where I am going… Just looking around and very paranoid,” said Holmes steps from the courts building.
In Monday’s testimony, Tocco told the court Holmes hit him “hard“ by using her car door. However, defense attorney Matheny-Willard said when Tocco asked a magistrate to charge Holmes with assault of a police officer, the magistrate refused, saying there was no probable cause to charge Holmes with assault.
A motions hearing is set for April 25, until defense attorney Matheny-Willard is hopeful the Commonwealth’s attorney will intervene and dismiss all charges against Holmes.
“I sent an email to the commonwealth’s attorney. He has the power to dismiss both of these charges. I asked him to dismiss it; he has not done it,” said Matheny-Willard