Texas Dem bigshot's police complaint busted by dash cam evidence

Police dash cam and body camera evidence is turning out to be a remedy for fabricated complaints.  Just two days ago, I reported on the Connecticut professor arrested for filing a false report of racist abuse.  Now, a much bigger fish has been exposed as fabricating fairy tales of police abuse.

Representative Garnet Coleman is a highly influential member of the Texas State House of Representatives, having represented an inner-city district of Houston for almost a quarter of a century.  He is a past chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.  His family has roots in Houston’s Third Ward going back over a century, and as the highly educated son of a physician, Rep. Coleman can fairly be said to be a member of the power elite of the Houston and Texas black community.

As chairman of the Committee on County Affairs, Rep. Coleman has been at the forefront of efforts to investigate the death of Sandra Bland, who died while in police custody following her arrest after disruptive behavior at a traffic stop, holding a hearing last week on the case.  During that hearing, Rep. Coleman recounted his own mistreatment at the hands of police.  KHOU TV of Houston reports:

The Houston Democrat recounted his own history of being pulled over in traffic stops and gave this account of an I-10 traffic stop that happened just two weeks ago.

"He talked to me like I was a child," he said of the sheriff's deputy who pulled him over for speeding. "He was so rude and nasty. Even when he found out I was a legislator, he became more rude and nasty. And I didn't understand why this guy was continuing to go on and on and treat me like a child. And basically like I'm saying is treat me like a boy. I want to be very clear about that," Coleman said in the committee hearing.

Perhaps like the Connecticut professor recently arrested, Rep. Coleman failed to consider the possibility that his encounter had been recorded by a dash cam.  The Austin County Sherriff’s Department didn’t, and released the tape (video below).  KHOU summarizes:

This week the Austin County Sheriff's Office revealed to KHOU 11 News that one of its deputies made that traffic stop near Sealy on the morning of July 14. And Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes released the dash cam video of the stop to let the public decide for themselves if his deputy did anything wrong.

"I think the video shows exactly what happened," Brandes said. "I saw nothing that indicated that he put forth any disrespect whatsoever Brandes said of the Austin County Sheriff's sergeant who made the traffic stop.

The dash cam video shows a sergeant for Austin County on patrol in the eastbound lanes of I-10 near exit 718. Coleman's car passes him on the left. The deputy clocked Coleman on radar going 94 miles per hour. The speed limit is 75 MPH. Coleman turns on his emergency flashers, pulls over immediately and the deputy approaches his car on the passenger side.

"How you doing?" the sergeant asks.

"All right. How are you?" Coleman answers.

"Pretty good. What's the rush?" the sergeant says.

"I'm just trying to go home," Coleman said.

"You can't do 94 miles an hour, though," the sergeant said.

"I didn't realize that," Coleman said, indicating he didn't notice how fast he was going.

The entire traffic stop lasts approximately 9 minutes. Coleman tells the deputy that he is a state representative. The deputy says he is aware of that fact. He has already run his state representative license plate in the patrol car computer and found at least one previous speeding violation in Wharton County.

After researching Coleman's driving record on the patrol car computer, the deputy returns to the side of Coleman's car three and a half minutes later. This is part of the final exchange:

(Deputy): "Mr. Coleman. I'll let you go with a warning. This is the same thing Wharton County did with you last year."

(Coleman): "Yeah...like I said. They didn't give me a ticket."

(Deputy): "It's still on your record right now points-wise. If Wharton County had given you a ticket and I gave you a ticket today you'd lose your driver's license on points."

(Deputy): "Stop speeding in a state car, OK? You got state plates on here, man. It's a state official plate. You realize how bad that looks?"

(Coleman): "I understand what you're saying. The speed got away from me."

Some of what Coleman says next can't be made out clearly due to traffic noise. But then he can be heard talking to the deputy about the way he feels he's being treated: "…but I'm not a child."

"I didn't say you were a child," the deputy responds. "I'm just trying to make you understand."

"I appreciate what you're doing," Coleman says.

"OK just slow down some, OK?" the deputy asks while still standing at the passenger side window.

"I just wasn't paying attention," Coleman said.

"Well, pay attention," the deputy says as their conversation ends and Coleman drives away without a speeding ticket.

"I think the video needs to be seen because it depicts exactly what happened," said Sheriff Brandes. "He did not write him a ticket. He took the approach to help the gentleman. And that was his objective. And I think he accomplished it quite well. We treat everybody fairly and honestly. And that's the way it should be."

Oddly enough, Rep. Coleman is unavailable for comment so far, despite KHOU’s attempt to contact him.  Since no complaint was filed, and since he is probably protected by law for comments made in the course of a hearing, he faces no legal jeopardy in all probability.

Here is the video account by KHOU:

Hat tip: David Paulin