WHITE OAK, Md. (FOX 5 DC) — A Montgomery County councilmember believes he may have been racially profiled when a Maryland state trooper pulled him over last weekend in White Oak.
“I think it’s a strong possibility,” Montgomery County councilmember Will Jawando told FOX 5 Monday.
Jawando tweeted about the incident Monday morning, writing that he was heading to the gym Saturday morning when he was pulled over “for the umpteenth time ” and told he “stopped on the stop line at the last light.” He said the trooper asked him “is this your car?” and “do you have any outstanding warrants or points?”
“I was suspecting that this was a pretextual stop to kind of search for other criminal activity just because he thought there might be,” Jawando explained Monday. “These pretextual stops — minor traffic violations or alleged traffic violations to look for other activity — they really erode trust and confidence in law enforcement and they don’t serve the community. And they’re disproportionately done to communities of color.”
State Police tell a different story. In a statement sent to FOX 5, Spokesperson Greg Shipley said Jawando was pulled over because his vehicle crossed a stop line and entered the intersection before stopping. Shipley added that the trooper “initiated the traffic stop simply because of the violation he observed,” that “this was not a pretextual stop,” and that the officer “did not know the race or sex of the driver before stopping the vehicle.”
“The Maryland State Police strictly forbids bias-based policing in all aspects of its law enforcement activities,” Shipley continued. “Stopping a vehicle based solely on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or religion is strictly prohibited.”
In response, Jawando said, “I highly doubt that that is the normal questioning of this officer. If it is, it shouldn’t be.”
Jawando was issued a warning for the intersection violation. When asked, Shipley said there is no Maryland State Police video of the traffic stop.