In mid-August, John Felton was pulled over by an officer from the Dayton Police Department. A video camera in Felton’s car captured the unseen officer telling Felton that he was being stopped because he didn’t signal 100 feet before a turn.
That camera also recorded Felton’s protestations, as he told the officer: “I did signal. I did signal. You just needed a reason to pull me over.”
After Felton, who is black, again pressed the matter, the officer could be heard saying that the traffic stop occurred “because you made direct eye contact with me and held on to it.”
Now, that officer — who has not been identified — will meet with Felton to discuss the incident, according to the city of Dayton, which said in a news release: “The traffic infraction was verified by the video; however making direct eye contact with an officer is not a basis for a traffic stop.”
Felton has been in contact with authorities, the city noted in a statement issued Friday, and has “agreed to a conversation” with the officer, which will be “facilitated” by a local mediation center.
“This will allow Mr. Felton and the Officer to discuss the specifics of the incident,” the release stated.
Felton’s attorney said that the mediation session — originally scheduled for Wednesday — would need to be rescheduled due to a scheduling conflict.
In the video, the officer can be heard telling Felton that the stop happened because of the turn signal violation. Felton disagrees, and indicates that he has a camera. The officer asks for his license and eventually walks away.
“Sir, you trailed me for how long? You just needed a reason to pull me over,” Felton says when the officer returns. “Like, no disrespect, I don’t have nothing against police officers, but all the s— that’s going on now, that’s some scary s—. To have a police officer just trailing you, and then you just pull me [inaudible] because you said I didn’t signal? What?”
Felton insists he wasn’t breaking the law and is heard asking why the officer was following him.
“Because you made direct eye contact with me and held on to it,” the officer replies, adding: “I’m not going to argue about it anymore, sir. If you want to keep talking about it … I can give you a citation for the violation and we can take it to court. I’m not going to argue about it anymore. Have a safe day.”
Felton’s attorney Byron Potts told the Washington Post in an interview that the incident was reminiscent of “slavery time.”
“We believe that it was a civil right violation” and “racial profiling,” Potts said.
He said he would advise his client to pursue civil legal action against the officer. He also plans to file an internal affairs complaint against the officer on Felton’s behalf. And they will file a public records request for the officer’s disciplinary records. Felton does not know the officer’s name and does not have the officer’s badge number, Potts said.
The traffic stop occurred during an ongoing national conversation about police interactions with African Americans.
In the video, Felton mentions Sandra Bland, a woman who was found dead in a Texas jail earlier this year. Bland was stopped for failing to signal a lane change, and the routine traffic stop escalated. A Texas trooper was caught on video shouting: “I will light you up!” Bland was arrested after the stop turned confrontational and died three days later.