Viral Video on Facebook Shows Campbell Police Officer Holding Driver, Passenger at Gunpoint

Video of a Campbell traffic cop holding a driver and passenger at gunpoint for nearly 10 minutes last week is going viral, generating nearly a million views and more than 10,000 comments on Facebook.

The clip recorded by the female driver, shows the officer aiming his weapon at a male passenger, who keeps his hands in view of the camera. But the footage doesn’t show what preceded the traffic stop on Highway 101 or how it ended, Campbell Police Department spokesman Capt. Gary Berg told San Jose Inside.

“There is more to the story,” he said Tuesday morning.

In a statement posted online Monday, Berg detailed the agency’s version of events based on a review of the officer’s body camera.

On July 28, a Campbell motorcycle cop driving north through Hollister reportedly saw a car zip by in the far-right lane at 85 mph. The officer stopped the vehicle “out of safety concerns,” Berg said. Sworn officers have the right to enforce traffic laws anywhere in the state, regardless of jurisdiction, he added.

In the five minutes before the start of the Facebook video, Berg said, there was “a cordial conversation” between the cop and the two people in the car. According to the statement, the officer explained why he stopped them and asked to see some documentation.

Both the driver and passenger spent several minutes rifling through the car for the requested paperwork, Berg wrote in his narrative. The officer then told them to wait in the vehicle as he wrote up a citation.

That’s when the passenger allegedly reached under his seat.

“Unfortunately, the passenger’s unexpected movement towards the bottom of the seat caused the officer to perceive a threat and draw his handgun,” Berg stated.

The the video picks it up from there.

“You’ve got your gun on me for no f-----g reason right now,” the passenger says, laughing nervously. “Wow. We’re looking for the f------g paperwork, bro.”

“I understand that,” the officer replies. “Don’t move, all right?”

Berg said the reason the officer had his weapon drawn for so long was because rush hour traffic delayed backup from CHP and the city of Campbell. The situation concluded with another civil exchange, according to police.

“In the end, the officer had a conversation with the passenger of the vehicle explaining his actions and why the gun was pointed at him,” Berg said. “The passenger indicated he understood why it happened and actually apologized to the officer. Both the driver and the passenger were issued citations and were allowed to leave.”

The driver was cited for speeding and the passenger for wearing his seatbelt improperly.

The video drew mixed reactions, prompting comparisons to other traffic stops caught on camera that—unlike this one—ended with police killing unarmed civilians. On Facebook, some people defended the Campbell officer. Others questioned whether he needed to draw his gun, and why he held it in a way that appeared to obscure his body camera.

“That cop shouldn’t be just pointing a gun at anyone for no reason,” one commenter said. “However, we have to be smart in the streets. If a gun is pointed on you by a police officer, comply so that it could resolve many issues. Even if the police officer is wrong.”

“I think he was trying to raise his seat up first before going into the glove box,” another replied. “He’s slouched really far in his seat. Ya’ll consider that as a possible scenario?”

“Trump’s police state,” one person exclaimed.

Other reactions devolved into racism and bigotry.

Berg told San Jose Inside that this is the first time Campbell’s police department has had to deal with a viral video involving one of its officers.

“It’s a learning experience,” he admitted. “But our philosophy at Campbell PD is that dialogue and our relationship with the community is really important. That’s why we posted that full release online.”

Top brass is considering whether to release the cop’s body camera footage, which Berg said captured the entire incident—despite the positioning of the officer’s gun and hands. But Campbell police won’t release the name or other identifying information about the officer—other than that he’s a veteran on the force—because the video prompted death threats against him.

“There’s a lot of negative sentiment,” Berg said. “I mean, in reality, it’s a bad situation for everybody involved. Having a gun pointed at you for nine minutes is not a good situation. I get it. And having an officer by the freeway by himself, fearing for his safety because someone reached under the seat, that’s not good for him either.”

San Jose Inside contacted the passenger who posted the video on Facebook, but attempts to set up a phone interview have been unsuccessful. The driver has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Nothing in the body camera footage or Facebook video indicates that the officer violated policy, Berg said. The encounter is, however, being investigated.

“The incident is considered a use of force,” Berg said. “Every time a gun is drawn does not dictate a full review. But based on the length of time here, and the amount of attention that it’s gathering, this is an opportunity to better explain why officers use certain tactics, and an opportunity for us to identify things that we can improve upon.”

Below is the video that was posted to Facebook. Some of the language is NSFW.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

30 Comments

      • Says the person who never needed one. How lucky for you! Too bad we aren’t all so fortunate. Maybe when someone in your family is killed by a drunk driver, like two people in mine were, you can go out and chase their murderer down yourselves.

        Or maybe in the planet you live on, there aren’t any drunk drivers or bad guys?

        • I ahve needed one and I called one and are still awating a call back from one to make an arrest.
          Cops are useless and need to learn to check voicemail

  1. Come on, you approach the vehicle and request registration and license. If it feels hinky, you order the people to keep their hands on the dash board and retreat back to your patrol car. You open your door, pull your shotgun, rack it and pick up your exterior PA system and remind the occupants to remain still. You radio a code 20 and await a fill. After the fill arrives You order the driver to use his right hand and open the door, move out with hands in the air. Lay face down with arms and hands extended. Same with passenger. Hand cuff, search and place in separate patrol cars Only an idiot on a motorcycle would do what he did. POWER OVER PEOPLE just doesn’t fly today. Question? What were they arrested for and was any contraband found????????????

  2. Anyone with a brain knows to keep both hands in plain view of any Police Officer.

    Good job Campbell P.D.!

    David S. Wall

  3. Good Guy, Bad Guy doesn’t matter, someone has the drop on you like that say yes sir and do what he says.
    People that get stupid may get dead!

  4. Those of us who support the police must learn to accept that what is on the video does not matter, all that matters is that it “went viral,” which, to a news industry beset by falling revenues, smells like easy ratings and no-cost fodder for mindless follow-up interviews.

    “Tell me, tattooed and pierced halfwit, do you think there’s any justification for the officer’s actions?”

    “Mr. Burris, as a carpetbagging lawyer who makes millions strong-arming spineless bureaucrats, how would you go about turning this dumb video into a big payday?”

    “Mayor Schaaf, now that you’ve hired a deranged crone to lead the OPD, do you feel confident your officers know better than to point their guns at citizens?”

    “Mr. Blowhard, as a former officer and expert on police tactics, please explain how the officer might’ve figured-out, as you so confidently did, that the passenger wasn’t reaching for a gun?

  5. Let’s see, pulled over for going 85 mph.
    Point #1 = That is breaking the law. Law enforcement has a right to pull you over.
    Point #2 = Reaching into an area the officer cannot see your hands. (Stupid move). I would have pulled my gun too.

    Look at it this way. Do any of us know that there was no gun under there? Maybe next time this knucklehead won’t reach where his hands can’t be seen. Was anyone hurt? No! Scared? Yes! I think both parties were. Police and driver/passenger.

    Law enforcement has a big job. They want to go home to their families too. So next time you are pulled over, keep your hands in sight, do what the officer says, and all will be ok. Reach like you are going for something, not a good idea.

    TRY AND PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR (LAW ENFORCEMENT) SHOES FOR ONCE!!!!!

  6. Once again, a traffic violation escalates to an officer pulling a gun. What if the passenger sneezed?

    • Robyn,

      Do you really believe there aren’t, everyday, in every county in the country, countless traffic stops where the occupants make moves, sudden or otherwise, that the officer finds concerning? Car stops in isolated areas, stops in the dark, stops of vehicles crowded with occupants: everyday this country’s police officers put their lives in jeopardy enforcing the laws necessary to keep our streets, roads, and highways relatively safe. And yet you, and so many mindless others, form your opinions not on the overwhelming number of uneventful encounters but on a handful of videos that you and your untrained brethren find objectionable.

      Somewhere, perhaps in the classrooms where politicized halfwits conduct indoctrinations, there has developed this perception of police officers as an occupying foreign army, this despite the officers having spent their formative years living lives and acquiring values virtually indistinguishable from those of their neighbors, friends, and classmates. Contrary to what you might think, what separates cops from everyone else has nothing to do with their uniforms or authority, what separates them is that they’re the ones who risk their lives defending America’s agreed upon values. When we use the law to proclaim we want our highways safe, our cities secure from those who rob, steal, and assault, our children protected from predators, our women free to go about unmolested, we do so knowing that without the police we get none of what we want, but with them we get as much as they can deliver.

      Maybe you don’t care about public safety, or maybe you’re holding out for imperfect humans to deliver perfect policing. If the former, then you are one personal tragedy away from changing your mind, if the latter, then you are merely an idiot.

  7. I just drove on that highway and no one was doing 65mph or 55 where posted, most people were going 75-80. My kids say that its safer to “keep up with everybody.” Something must be done to educate all drivers on respecting speed laws or cars must be made to not go faster than the speed limit. Officers see a bunch of cars speeding so they pick one…Just saying, as a society, let’s be more honest and do something about this problem with the silly “freedom-to-speed”.

  8. It’s frustrating when the passengers talk about the officer pulling his weapon…all the while, they’re filming & running their mouths making the situation far more tense than necessary. He kept asking him to calm down yet they couldn’t be quiet for 30 secs. to help de-escalate it. Whether the officer was wrong or not, you need to help yourself in those situations & not get yourself shot.

  9. Not long ago I drove by a traffic stop at night. The cops were standing by the car, and both the driver and passenger had their hands stuck out the side windows.

    I didn’t slow down, but it was obvious what was going down. The cops wanted to see their hands at all times. Just like this cop wanted. And just like you or I would have wanted.

    So, what’s the problem here? The driver got a seat belt ticket, that’s all. Not a ticket for going 85 in a 55.

    (But if you want to see some real a-hoes, do a YouTube search for “Sovereign Citizen”. You might want to shoot those jackasses yourself—just on general principles…)

      • Well as a cop for the last 17 years, I can tell you on at least 8 separate occasions during patrol and special operation units, drivers/passengers who reached down under their car seats or slouched their body prior to stopping were in fact in possession of loaded handguns. Some of the guns were stolen, used in shootings and murder weapons that matched homicide case.

        Yes in some cases they were concealing dope, paraphernalia, and burglary tools. But if I would have hesitated for one second or not have pulled out my gun and given orders, I would not be here right now if the suspects who were wanted for murder, drive by shootings had the jump on me. They all complied and are still alive because they realized my gun was out and they gave up.

        I will continue to keep my partners, public and myself safe regardless of what you write or the left wing liberals want to argue or because you just hate police.

        Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep…

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