When Houston woman Earledreka White got pulled over by a Houston police officer, she got scared and called 911 for backup. What happened next depends on whom you ask. She was either yet another black person victimized by overzealous white police or yet another civilian who could have avoided a police confrontation if she had simply done what she was told.
As the Washington Post reports, the incident took place on March 31. However, it is only now gaining attention in the national media after her attorney released footage of the incident.
NEVER get out the car. | #EarledrekaWhite called 911 because she was afraid of a cop. A violent arrest followed. https://t.co/mrHp0DoDrR
— Keith Major (@iphoneque) August 5, 2016
White was pulled over by Officer Gentian Luca for a minor traffic violation. She made her way to a nearby parking lot and called 911.
“He’s saying I crossed over a solid line and I did not. I got out of the car to ask him what the offense was. He raised his voice at me and threatened to arrest me. So I’m really confused. And I would like another officer to come out here. My heart is racing. I’m really afraid.”
In the video below, you can hear audio from White’s 911 call combined with video taken from a nearby security camera. While she’s on the phone with the Houston Metro Police Department police dispatch, asking for another officer to come to the scene, Luca reaches for his handcuffs and tries to cuff White. A struggle ensues (the confrontation begins at 2:50).
Eventually, Luca got the upper hand and cuffed White. She was arrested and charged with resisting arrest.
White has since hired an attorney, Zack Fertitta. Speaking to the Houston Chronicle, Fertitta says that it’s clear from the video that Luca caused the confrontation, escalating the situation instead of waiting for backup to arrive.
“I’m as pro-law-enforcement as they come, but that’s not good police conduct. You can’t escalate a situation and then claim someone is ‘resisting arrest.’ That’s ridiculous.”
It’s a sentiment White shares.
“Being pulled over is not the troubling part – what happened after being pulled over is what baffles me. As I tell the dispatcher that this man is threatening to ‘tase’ me, he backs away, then comes back and literally tries to break my arm.”
White would go on to spend two days in jail and be levied a $1,000 fine for a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. Luca was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Houston PD.
In Texas, you do have the right to call 911 during a traffic stop, according to the San Antonio Express-News, particularly if you have doubts that you are dealing with an impostor rather than a real police officer. However, whether you are legally in the right or not, stepping out of your vehicle during a police stop is generally seen as a bad idea, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says that it’s best to stay seated in your car with your hands visible.
According to Washington Post writer Amy B. Wang, White’s arrest draws similarities to the arrest of Sandra Bland.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 28, 2016
Bland, like White, was a Texas woman who was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. Like White’s traffic stop, the situation escalated, and eventually Bland was arrested for assaulting a police officer; she died in jail days later of an apparent suicide.
Do you believe Earledreka White was a victim of police brutality, or did her own non-compliance escalate a situation that could have been avoided?
[Image via Realstock/Shutterstock]