When police in Winfield, Kansas, pulled Rudy Samuel over, the 31-year-old felt he had done nothing wrong. So he started recording the encounter on Facebook Live.
“Officer says I failed to put my signal light on within a hundred feet,” he says to the camera. “And it wasn’t a hundred feet, but whatever.”
The video, shot on May 13, begins after Samuel provides Winfield police officers with his license and registration.
When the two policemen approach Samuel’s car again, they offer a different reason for the traffic stop.
“Hey Mr. Samuel, what caught my attention was this vegetation stuff right here,” one of them says, pulling something from the seal of the car’s driver’s-side window.
Samuel responds that it must be from a tree and adds that he does not smoke. Later, he asks officers about the original reason he was pulled over.
They tell him they already explained it and ask him to step out of the car so they can search it. Samuel refuses, telling them to test the “vegetation” first.
“I ain’t got to test it right now,” one officer says before pulling Samuel from the car.
Samuel is African American. The two officers are white. A spokesman for Samuel told CNN they believe the incident was racially motivated.
“He kept saying ‘test it.’ They snatched him out of the car, handcuffed him and banged him around a little bit,” said Peter Wright of Freedom 1, a grassroots organization that seeks to find fair solutions to complaints against companies, police or other institutions.
Winfield Police Chief Brett Stone told CNN that his officers gave Samuel two verbal warnings before they let him go. He said the incident is “under review” and declined to make any additional comment.
Plans to protest
The officers released Samuel after searching the vehicle, which did not turn up any suspicious substances, according to Wright.
Wright claims police did not test the “vegetation” and did not give Samuel any citations.
In the video, Samuel repeatedly says he did not give his consent to be searched. He also tells officers he has a licensed firearm in his car.
Wright said Samuel is suffering from nightmares and trauma related to the incident, although he is grateful for the support people have given him on social media.
“He wants to use this platform, not just for him, but for so many people that have gone through something like this and didn’t live to talk about it,” Wright added.
Freedom 1 plans to protest the police department’s actions and hire an attorney to represent Samuel, Wright said.
The video of the incident had been shared some 900 times as of Tuesday afternoon, sparking an online discussion about how race may have influenced the officers’ behavior.
Winfield is a city of 12,000 people some 45 miles southeast of Wichita. Dozens of people have also visited the Winfield Police Department’s Facebook page to complain about officers’ treatment of Samuel.