WILLIAMSBRIDGE, The BRONX -- The traffic stop is a common, and sometimes vital, part of policing. One city motorist, however, says that the traffic stop he was involved in in the very early hours of Wednesday morning was illegal and violated his rights, and he has video to prove it.
The NYPD begs to differ.
The stop of Ramon Rodriguez, 24, at 12:25 a.m. was recorded on the smartphone of his passenger. It begins with everyone involved, from Rodriguez to the police officer at the driver's side window and his partner all showing common courtesy.
They all refer to one another as "sir."
After the officer asks to see Rodriguez's driver's license and registration, Rodriguez asks, "What's the probable cause?"
The officer's response is clearly heard. "I'll get to that," he says in a calm voice. "I promise."
It was the lack of identifying the reason for the stop that caused Rodriguez to conclude that the stop was illegal. Police are required to inform citizens why they're being detained. Still, for the first 90 seconds or so of the video, things stay relatively calm.
"So you like cameras?" the passenger asks the partner of the officer, who responds positively, saying, " I ain't do anything wrong."
But after about a minute and a half, the main officer tells the two men in the car that he needs them to leave the vehicle in order to inspect it.
"I don't want to step out of the car," Rodriguez tells the officer. "Come out or go to the precinct," the cop responds.
The officer is also heard on camera saying said he smells marijuana. The passenger disputes that. "I'm asking you a question, with all respect," the passenger says. "How could you smell it when you're in another vehicle?"
At that point, Rodriguez, who has a private investigator working for him in another case, makes a phone call to that private eye, a former NYPD cop who has instructed Rodriguez on ways to properly interact with police.
"They're not giving us probable cause," He tells the private detective. At that point, the officer takes the phone out of Rodriguez's hands.
"I have rights, my brother," Rodriguez is heard exclaiming, to which the officer replies, "And I have the right to search your car."
"That is incorrect," said Manuel Gomez, Rodriguez's private investigator, in an interview Wednesday afternoon. Gomez said that the traffic stop procedure captured on video is in violation of the NYPD service manual.
"He doesn't give probable cause," and he's supposed to, said Gomez, who's not only a former NYPD officer, but is also a combat veteran intelligence officer.
"This is just a prime example of what goes on in the Bronx," Gomez said about how the traffic stop was conducted, but now we have it on video."
Just before the video ends, the officer pulls Rodriguez out of the car, which belongs to his girlfriend. The officer says in the video that the car has a suspended registration.
"The whole thing was a lie on top of a lie on top of a lie," said John Scola, Rodriguez's attorney, regarding the stop and the reason given by the arresting officer, eventually.
However, for its part, the NYPD said that the car's license plate showed up as having lapsed insurance, leading to the traffic stop.
The police also told PIX11 News that Rodriguez is no stranger to them. A department spokesperson, Lt. John Grimpel, said that Rodriguez has had multiple arrests in the past, and that Wednesday's traffic stop resulted in new charges, including suspended registration, felony criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Rodriguez's attorney and private investigator called the charges trumped up and said they intend to file a notice of claim against the city on Thursday.