Video recorded police stops reveal drivers unclear on their rights and responsibilites

Police have the right to order you out of your car

TAMPA - Former Marine Curtis Shannon was stopped by a St. Petersburg police officer last December and recorded on his phone what he thought was his right to ignore the officer's orders.

"You need to give me a reason for me to step out of this car," said Shannon to the officer.

We showed the exchange to Thomas M. Cooley Law School professor Jeffrey Swartz, who says Shannon had no right to refuse the officer's instructions.

"The law specifically says a police officer has the right to ask you to exit a vehicle. You are never going to win a street argument with a police officer when you are just giving him a hard time," said Swartz.
 
Shannon eventually opened the door, was handcuffed and charged with resisting arrest. He's trying to raise money now for legal expenses.

We had Swartz look at other stops recorded by citizens demanding to know what they were being stopped for and refusing to follow instructions to either roll down the window all the way or exit the vehicle.
 
Swartz says case law upholds an officers right to order everyone out of the vehicle, cuff and even pat down drivers for weapons if they feel there is a risk.

And though police may not like it, there's nothing illegal about recording a police stop.

"Anybody has the right to record what is happening around them including with a police officer as long as it is obvious to the person that they are being recorded," said Swartz.

There are times when officers cross the line with profanity, aggression or just plain inappropriate behavior as in the now infamous 'bra shaking' incident involving Lakeland Police.

But Swartz says it's never a good idea to provoke an officer by demanding rights you don't have.

"The best thing to do is just cooperate with the police officer. When he hands you the ticket, say thank you officer, have a nice day officer, I'll see you in Court officer.

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