San Diego

Witness Who Recorded Controversial Traffic Stop Disputes Citation From SDPD

The witness and the man who was stopped by San Diego police believe their race was a factor in the way they were treated by police

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A witness to a controversial traffic stop whose footage led San Diego police to investigate its own officers’ conduct says he should not have been ticketed following the incident and wonders what would have happened had he never pressed record.

Ebony Hickson said he didn’t think twice about pulling out his phone when an SDPD officer pulled over his neighbor Columbus White. Both Hickson and White are Black.

NBC 7's Rory Devine spoke to the subject of the traffic stop.

Footage from their phones, and their complaints to the department, prompted SDPD to investigate the conduct of the officers involved.

An officer told White he had probable cause to pull him over because he was on Fourth Waiver. White argued the legality of the stop in an interview with NBC 7 days later, and claims he was not on Fourth Waiver or under any type of law enforcement supervision.

Fourth Waiver is a policy that allows those on probation to waive their Fourth Amendment rights, which generally protect people from unwarranted searches and seizures. It's a voluntary option taken by offenders as a condition of parole, probation or law enforcement supervision, according to the San Diego County Probation Department.

More on the traffic stop here.

NBC 7 learned Friday that Hickson was also ticketed during the incident for resisting arrest. An assisting officer pulled up to the scene with his siren on, jumped out of his vehicle and immediately walked toward Hickson.

“Back up,” the officer said

“I don't need to back up,” Hickson replied.

"Back up and get away from my officers, that's what you need to do,” said the officer as he got closer.

The officer reached for Hickson and appeared to detain him. The recording stops as the officer appears to grab Hickson.

“He doesn't even give me time to recognize what he was telling me to do and take the action, so by the time I take the step back, I’m already being put in handcuffs and thrown on top of the car," Hickson told NBC 7.

Hickson was across the street when White was pulled over. He said he went over and started recording for White’s safety.

“What would have happened if I wasn't here to record off his phone and my phone at that time?” Hickson wondered.

White said he was cited for speeding and expired registration. He denies the speeding allegation and showed NBC 7 valid, up-to-date registration.

Pillars of the Community, a nonprofit focused on social justice, has since submitted a third-party complaint with SDPD.

In a press release the department announced they launched an investigation into the involved officers, but no other information has been provided

Once SDPD’s internal investigation is complete, it will be reviewed by the Commission on Police Practices, the independent police oversight commission created to review complaints made by the public against officers.

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