Prince George’s Co. state’s attorney offers advice about interactions with police

In the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, a D.C.-area prosecutor is offering dos and don’ts for interacting with police.

The advice came days after Floyd died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy took part in a “Know Your Rights” discussion on Zoom on Wednesday night.

Real estate agents Joseph Harrison and Timothy Taylor organized the event.

Here are some of the questions and answers that were provided.

  • Q: What should you do if you see an officer using extreme force and think someone's life might be in danger?
  • Call 911, and if you can do so safely, shoot video with your phone. “It’s our best tool right now to expose corrupt officers,” Braveboy said.

    You can also speak up.

    “You can let the officer know that you think that whatever he is in engaged in is wrong.”

  • Q: What should you do if you think an officer has committed a crime or mistreated you?
  • Try to get the officer’s name and badge number, take a photo of the police cruiser’s license plate and file a complaint, she said.

  • Q: If I'm pulled over by a police officer and don't know why, what questions must I answer?
  • An officer who pulls you over should tell you why they’ve done so before asking for any information, Braveboy said.

    “If they don’t provide you that information, what I would say would be to continue to provide the information that they requested, but certainly ask for their badge number and their name.” That way, you can file a complaint.

  • Q: Can you refuse a breathalyzer test?
  • Yes, but police might try to get a warrant to test your blood anyway.

  • Q: If an officer asks me to get out of my car, do I have to?
  • Officers do have the right to ask you to get out of your car. But if you’re in a dark area at night, you can ask to drive to a well-lit location, such as a gas station, before you get out,” she said.

    “And also you can of course call 911 to make sure that the person who is stopping you is in fact a police officer.”

  • Q: During a traffic stop, what's the best way to show an officer that you're complying with them?
  • “Say hello, be polite, ask questions,” she said.

    Ask for permission before reaching for something in your pocket or glove compartment.

    “Let them know what you’re doing, so that they don’t think that they’re in danger.”

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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