A police dashcam video released by a Texas sheriff paints a different picture of a traffic stop regarding a speeding state representative who claimed mistreatment. The legislator received a warning ticket for speeding 94 miles per hour (mph) on a 75-mph interstate highway.
Texas State Representative Garnet Coleman told an emotional story about this traffic stop during a hearing of the House County Affairs Committee. The committee looks into county jail standards in the wake of the suicide of Sandra Bland, who killed herself after her arrest by a state trooper.
“He talked to me like I was a child,” Coleman said during the hearing where he was speaking about the sheriff’s deputy who pulled him over for speeding. “He was so rude and nasty. Even when he found out I was a legislator, he became more rude and nasty. And I didn’t understand why this guy was continuing to go on and on and treat me like a child. And basically like I’m saying is treat me like a boy. I want to be very clear about that,” Coleman said in the committee hearing. Coleman appeared to emphasize the racial overtones of the word boy—a word the deputy never used.
The fact that Coleman is a state representative would have been no surprise to the sheriff’s office sergeant. Coleman has “State Official” plates proudly displayed on the back of his car. These plates immediately let a police officer know he or she stops a vehicle owned by a Texas elected official.
Before the deputy got out of his car, he radioed to his dispatcher, “Its a state official car. Hit him (with radar) at 94.”
After a polite initial exchange, the deputy asks Coleman if he has had any tickets. Coleman replied that he had not. This would later prove to be a false statement.
According to the sergeant, Coleman drove 94 mph on the highway where the speed limit is 75. The fine in Austin County, where the violation occurred, is $200 according to the state’s standardized schedule of fines. He was one mile per hour under the limit of what could be a criminal violation of reckless driving.
Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes took offense to Coleman’s version of the treatment he received from his sergeant. In an interview with KHOU-CBS11 in Houston, Brandes said, “I think the video shows exactly what happened. I saw nothing that indicated that he put forth any disrespect whatsoever.” Brandes was speaking about the Austin County Sheriff’s sergeant who made the traffic stop.
Coleman began exhibiting an attitude of self-importance to the deputy early on in the encounter. The deputy noticed Coleman did not have the required front license plate on his vehicle. When asked about the missing plates, Coleman’s explanation cannot be heard, but the deputy says, “I know who you are. It doesn’t matter, okay?”
The sergeant gave Coleman a warning ticket – and a stern, but not disrespectful lecture about his speeding. The sergeant said Coleman had received a similar warning ticket in Wharton County in 2014. The deputy had learned that Coleman’s driving record also revealed a speeding ticket from 2012. He explained to Coleman that had he received an actual ticket then and one on this day, he would lose his license on points because of the 2012 ticket. He cautioned Coleman, “Stop speeding in a state car, okay?”
Coleman then began arguing with the sergeant who was clearly giving him a break. “I understand what you are saying,” Coleman countered, “but I am not a child.” The deputy responded, “I didn’t say you were a child.”
“It’s the way you were talking,” Coleman said.
“I’m just trying to make you understand,” the sergeant responded.
“Alright,” Coleman said. “Today, I just wasn’t paying attention.”
That part is apparently true. Despite driving at nearly 100 mph through very congested interstate highway traffic, the video reveals Colemandriving up behind the marked patrol unit so fast that the deputy had to pull over to the right lane as Coleman flew past him.
Other law enforcement officials also did not agree with Coleman’s interpretation of the traffic stop. When asked about Coleman referring to the deputy as being “rude and nasty” during the encounter, AAPOL President and Houston Senior Police Officer Eric Fagan told KHOU, “I don’t understand it. He addressed him as ‘Sir,’ ‘Mr. Coleman.’ So his take on it being some type of racial incident, I don’t see that either.”
KHOU reported: “The Texas Municipal Police Association, the Harris County Deputies Organization, the Houston Police Officers’ Union and the Dallas Police Union all issued demands for Coleman to apologize for his ‘fabrication’ of the events in the traffic stop.”
Sheriff Brandes asked Coleman to apologize for his remarks about the sheriff’s deputy. Instead, Coleman seemed to double down on the race card “boy” word.
“They may not have [thought it was rude],” Coleman told KHOU. “But they weren’t sitting in my seat. And, if you know the history of my people, you know that being treated like a child or a boy is not something that we accept very well.”
The Houston Police Officers Union (HPOU) issued a strong rebuke to Coleman. “Our organization has supported Representative Coleman during his tenure in the Texas Legislature, however, since Representative Coleman refuses to own up to the fact that his statements in committee regarding the stop were in fact not true and completely out of line, we have no choice but to discontinue our support of him.”
The released dashcam video nearly puts us in the seat with Coleman during the traffic stop. Coleman received a warning ticket for what many would say was an egregious traffic violation. It appears the deputy behaved in a calm and professional manner throughout the exchange.
YouTube reader Richard Fletcher summed it up well:
I can’t hear or see that the officer committed any type of derogatory comments. Rep Coleman lied about previous speeding tickets and it was his second offense. He was in a hurry to get home and wasn’t thinking. Why was the incident brought up at the hearing in Waller? Was he trying to discredit our public officials or sway the hearing?
Several weeks ago my wife was trying to get to San Antonio on I-10 @ 84mph in a 75mph zone. Our daughter-in-law had been rushed to the OR because of an emergency child birthing situation, she was very close to death. The traffic was lite and it was late in the evening. She had no previous tickets or warnings.
The officer was very professional and wrote on the ticket the reason. She still had to pay a hefty fine.
Count your blessings Rep Coleman, you seem to have a get out of jail free card, thanks to those who voted for you.
“We treat everybody fairly and honestly, and that’s the way it should be.” Sheriff Brandes concluded in his KHOU interview.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.