Too often, American police officers get away with breaking the law. And too often, civilians are denied justice when they're targeted by police officers who are in the wrong. Maybe that's why this Miami woman's successful effort to pull over a speeding cop is so cathartic:
On Friday, Claudia Castillo posted three videos shot from her car showing a police car driving ahead of her on the Palmetto Expressway. In the first and second videos, she can be heard narrating her outrage at his alleged reckless speeding. "There's an officer in front of me that I've been following since Miller… to keep up with him I've had to push the limit and everything and I actually know he was going about 100 miles an hour."
Eventually, Castillo manages to flag the officer's attention and get him to pull over. On the side of the road, the officer exits his car and comes to Castillo's window. "The reason I pulled you over today, and I'm asking you to come over and have a conversation is because… you were pushing 90 miles an hour."
The cop is generally receptive, but ultimately denies the accusation. "I don't believe I was speeding, but I guess that you're entitled to your opinion." Probably not a defense that would work if their positions were swapped.
Eventually, however, the officer offers an apology. "I just think that we should all set an example," Castillo says, adding, "Leaders of the community set by example, lead by example." The officer said he agrees.
Castillo told WSVN that she started tracking the officer because she was alarmed by how quickly he was driving. "He passed me with so much speed, so much force, my car shook… it scared the daylights out of me." She added, "I just thought, 'Holy Jesus, how fast is this man going?"
Miami Dade police director said in a statement: "The Miami Dade Police Department will have his immediate command staff investigate the matter, once the officer and citizen are identified. The appropriate course of action will be taken at that point."
A three-month Sun Sentinel investigation found almost 800 cops from a dozen agencies driving 90 to 130 mph on our highways. Many weren't even on duty — they were commuting to and from work in their take-home patrol cars.
The videos have each been viewed tens of thousands of times—at this point, the one showing Castillo's exchange with the officer has been seen more than 96,000 times. Comments on the video are divided: Some praise Castillo for her actions, others accuse her of harassing an officer of the law, and some point out that she, too, was speeding when she tried to catch up with the officer. The Miami Dade police department, at least, says she's off the hook for that one.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.