A leftist columnist in Missouri was caught lying in an article about a dangerous interaction with "arrogant" sheriff's deputies during a routine traffic stop. However, the sheriff's department released dashcam video of the deputies being courteous and professional to the columnist, who himself was shown to be rude.
According to the New York Post, Bill Clark, an 84-year-old columnist at the Columbia Daily Tribune was pulled over on June 20 by Boone County Sheriff's deputies for failing to use his turn signal. Clark claimed was likely pulled over due to his plethora of “liberal bumper stickers,” signaling an “aging hippie with a weed habit.”
Clark wrote in his column "Ol’ Clark has run-in with the law," that his life was in danger from the officers during the stop.
"I’m lucky I didn’t get shot," Clark wrote. "Sirens wailed and when I stopped, two officers were out of the sheriff’s vehicle. When I reached over to turn off the radio and then take my wallet out of my pocket to produce the driver’s license and insurance card, I realized my hands were not at the top of my steering wheel. Danger lurked and official arrogance was to follow."
Clark wrote he received a "lecture" from officers who wouldn't answer questions posed to them, instead telling him to plead not guilty if he disagreed with their assessment.
Reflecting on the "arrogance" of the officers during the stop, Clark said that feeling in danger made him appreciate the claims of minorities who speak about police harassment.
"I’ve just come to appreciate even more the words of those minorities when they speak of harassment and police arrogance. I had a good dose of arrogance on this evening and, in my rearview mirror, the image of the second officer out of the car, his hands ready in case I made the wrong move. My life seemed to be in danger."
However, Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey disagreed with Clark's assessment.
The sheriff released the 11-minute dashcam footage in a response titled, "The law has a run in Ol' Clark," proving that his deputies not only did everything by the book, but with professional kindness.
Carey wrote that the female officer who pulled him over was a three-year veteran in the department, and a U.S. military veteran at that. Her ride-along partner was a rookie deputy in training.
Sheriff Carey went on to explain why the deputy had used her sirens, and refuted Clark's claim that his life was in danger, calling the column "sensationalism at its best."
As the deputies begin to exit their vehicle to approach, the intersection light turns green and there goes Ol' Clark cutting in front of the Ford truck. In the law enforcement world that is an indication that the driver is going to flee. This is the reason for the audible siren. Ol' Clark does pull over and initial contact is made. In his column he indicates, "I'm lucky I didn't get shot." There is never a weapon drawn, the deputies don't take a position of cover, there are no loud verbal commands, no panic or anything else for that matter by the deputies. Would you agree this is sensationalism at its best? I say yes!
Carey pointed out that Clark raises his voice to the deputy at one point, becoming argumentative, and demanding the ticket be given to him. The sheriff says the interaction ended with the deputy telling Clark to drive safely, and even thanking him.
When the two officers were back in their car, Carey said no derogatory statements or jokes were made at Clark's expense.
“The nerve of law enforcement these days!" Carey wrote.
Carey contacted Columbia Daily Tribune editor, Charles L. Westmoreland, who reviewed the dashcam footage himself and agreed with Carey's assessment.
Westmoreland wrote a response addressing the issue, and after praising Clark for his long history of writing for the Tribune, rebuked Clark's column, and said that Clark has been suspended indefinitely.
"I cannot defend Clark’s column or the facts as he presented them," Westmoreland wrote. "In the video, I saw two professional deputies performing their job by the book, and a somewhat confused and irritated motorist, unaware of what he had done to draw the attention of local law enforcement. It certainly wasn’t worth writing a scathing column about, and the Tribune should not have published it. For that I apologize to the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and readers who feel they were misled by Clark’s column."
"Clark deserves consideration for his past contributions to the Tribune and our community," Westmoreland later added. "He will, however, be suspended indefinitely and his historical segments and thrice-weekly commentary will not appear again until we’ve had the opportunity for further review."
According to Westmoreland, Clark will publish an apology in the Saturday print edition of the Tribune.