NYC attorneys reflect on “driving while black” in wake of deadly SC police shooting

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Kenneth Montgomery and Howard Lee are successful attorneys based out of Brooklyn. In fact Montgomery, an adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School, is a former Kings County prosecutor.

Both described the similar issues they have faced while behind the wheel, "I'm not an angel and I don't profess to be one, but I have been pulled over multiple times for reasons that I know I didn't do anything," said Montgomery at his office.

"There are many instances where I have been pulled over and I'm often wondering why am I being pulled over, although I knew the reason why," said Lee during an interview at his residence.

The discussion among many minority men nationwide is one that various communities have tackled over the years. According to Lee, "It goes back to the driving while black situation."

The situation emerging again, as a result of the South Carolina shooting death of Walter Scott by North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager.

Slager was officially fired on Wednesday, and charged with murder on Tuesday, "Him being charged is a lot different from him being convicted, we all
know that," said Montgomery.

The 43-year-old Crown Heights attorney also says that this latest case is another example of a systemic breakdown, where a black man dies after a traffic stop. In recent months the topic has come to light with comedian Chris Rock tweeting about being pulled over by cops. In one tweet, Rock even stated, "Wish me luck."

In a recent New York Magazine article Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson shared a past story of getting pulled over on the Long Island Expressway and the officer asking his white partner in the passenger seat if he was the owner of the Range Rover that Thompson was driving.

For Montgomery, an unforgettable experience occurred when he was driving to school in Virginia and his family sent he and a friend back from their visit with some home cooked favorites.

"An officer waved us down, pulled us over, asked us, 'Did we have any guns in the car?' No, 'Any drugs?' No. 'Do we mind searching the car?' and we sat on side of the road while they went through the lemon cake and the sweet potatoes pie and everything else and that was something we got use to."

The Justice Department in recent years has released statistics that show black drivers getting pulled over in greater percentage than Latino or white drivers.

However, stats are not coming into play in the South Carolina case but rather disturbing raw video which has resulted in a rare swift pursuit of justice by investigators who are investigating one of their own, "I doubt if this footage had ever surfaced, this case would end up in the manner in which it's ended up at.," said Montgomery.

When asked if it was a form of digital law enforcement? Montgomery quickly said, "Yeah. Absolutely. It is one of those rare instances where it has helped the situation."