FAIRFAX, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) — Virginia State Police say they are looking into an officer’s actions after a video from April 2019 surfaced on social media showing troopers forcefully pulling a man from his car during a traffic stop.
The Virginia State Police officer involved is on administrative leave after the video of the traffic stop was posted on social media July 13, 2020.
The incident happened back in April 2019 in Fairfax County. According to state police, they just found out about the video.
The driver in the video was initially pulled over for an expired inspection sticker. He ended up being charged with obstruction, and driving on a suspended license.
During the incident, a trooper used force to remove the driver, Derrick T. Thompson, of Woodbridge, from the vehicle.
WARNING: The video below contains some profanity and may be offensive to some viewers.
State police have opened a criminal investigation. Superintendent Col. Gary Settle said in a statement, the conduct displayed by the trooper involved is not characteristic of state police.
“The conduct displayed by Trooper [Charles] Hewitt during the course of the traffic stop is not in agreement with the established standards of conduct required of a Virginia trooper. Nor is it characteristic of the service provided daily across the Commonwealth of Virginia by Virginia State Police personnel, Settle wrote.
Police say the traffic stop happened April 20, 2019 around 4:15 p.m. in the afternoon on Interstate 495.
Police said Thompson was found to be operating on a suspended driver’s license during the stop. Troopers also said they smelled the odor of marijuana in his vehicle.
Additional troopers responded to the scene at that time.
Thompson began recording using his cell phone, and refused multiple times to exit the vehicle, police allege.
In the cellphone video, Trooper Hewitt unlocks Thompson’s vehicle, opens up the car door, bends down to Thompson and says, while pointing at himself, “take a look at me buddy, I am a [expletive] specimen.”
The trooper continues, “You have gotten on my last nerve,” before he looks directly into the camera and says, “you’re going to get your ass whooped in front of [expletive] Lord and all creation.”
Thompson is holding his hands up as the cellphone video records. He’s heard saying, “I am of no threat to these officers.”
He repeatedly says in the video, “I am being threatened.”
After giving Thompson another warning to exit the vehicle, Hewitt unlocks Thompson’s seat belt. Both exchange words and after Hewitt gives Thompson another warning, he says Thompson is now under arrest for disobeying an officer.
Hewitt then looks into the cellphone camera, counts to two and says, “watch the show folks,” before pulling Thompson out of the vehicle by his neck.
“How do you like that, huh?” Trooper Hewitt is heard saying, although the cellphone camera doesn’t catch footage of the arrest.
“Sir, please get off my neck. I’m not resisting. Get off my neck, sir,” says Thompson. “You are harming me, you are harming me.”
The clip ends.
Thompson was taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center where he was evaluated for a minor abrasion on his forehead.
Police say they need to investigate any use of force incident that results in an injury, no matter how minor that injury is. At the time, Trooper Hewitt did request a sergeant respond to the scene to conduct that investigation.
“The Virginia State Police adheres to strict policies regarding employee conduct and requires our employees to perform their duties with exceptional professionalism and integrity, and to treat the public with fairness and respect at all times,” police wrote.
8News reached out to Thompson’s attorney, Joshua Erlich, who says he sent a letter to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office to look into the incident and learn more about Trooper Hewitt.
While no suit has been filed, Erlich says Thompson is seeking punitive damages. He did not specify how much.
WAVY’s sister station, 8News, reached out to Herring’s office to learn if they have received the letter Derrick Thompson’s attorney sent. No response has been given as of this writing.
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