Chesterfield Police: Some ‘improper tactics’ used during traffic stop

CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- Ahead of a NAACP press conference planned on Thursday, Chesterfield County Police allowed reporters to review body camera footage from March 28 that recorded the traffic stop and detainment of James Monk, a 22-year-old black male.

Chesterfield County Police said a routine use-of-force incident review by internal investigations in early April found some “improper tactics” were used during the stop and said that the officers involved went through one on one re-training afterward.

Tavorise K. Marks, with the Chesterfield County Branch NAACP, reached out to police in late May, and reviewed the video with police on May 25.  Then Marks announced a press conference and notified the media about the traffic stop.

Police noted that there are "significant inconsistencies" between actual events and the NAACP's account that was distributed to the media. The NAACP maintains that Monk did not resist police, a Taser was used on him over three times, and that there were over eight officers present during the incident.

The video showed an officer pull over Monk for dark window tint at 12:30 a.m. on March 28. The traffic stop took place in Ettrick, not far from Virginia State University at James Street and 2nd Avenue.

Monk explained to the officer that he does not own the vehicle, and police confirm it never came back registered to him.

The officer called for backup because he said he smelled marijuana and wanted to search the car.

Police attempted to handcuff Monk while they searched the car, per standard operating procedure.

The video showed that Monk almost immediately resisted officers when he got out of the car. He maintained he did not do anything wrong.

A total of four officers tried to get Monk to comply, but he ignored the repeated requests from officers asking him to stop reaching down with his hands and he would not comply when they eventually asked him to get on his stomach so he could be handcuffed.

He repeated that he had done nothing wrong. The officer warned him that he would be pepper sprayed if he would not roll onto his stomach.

Monk was then pepper-sprayed.

The woman with Monk, who was not handcuffed, could be heard telling him “get on your stomach.”

Monk did not comply and was pepper-sprayed again. The officer warned him multiple times that he would use the Taser next.

The Taser could be heard in the background, as the officer twice utilized a warning arc discharge from the Taser; a function used by law enforcement to deter a subject without deploying the Taser cartridge.

Over two minutes elapsed after Monk was first pepper sprayed, and then the officer deployed the Taser.

Police contacted Chesterfield EMS to respond to the scene, as is procedure if a Taser is deployed.

Chesterfield County Police Captain R.F. Horowitz said the officer should have removed the Taser prongs from Monk. The officer wanted EMS to remove the prongs.

Cpt. Horowitz also said that the Taser should only be deployed when there is an “immediate threat.” Everything else about the stop and methods used by police were acceptable, Horowitz said.

None of the responding officers were placed on administrative leave, and all officers went through one on one training following the incident.

No marijuana was found on Monk or in the car he was driving. He was written a summons at the magistrate’s office for two misdemeanor charges; obstruction of justice and illegal window tint.

When Horowitz was asked what would have happened if Monk had complied, he responded that they likely would have searched the car, found no marijuana, and released Monk – possibly with just a warning.

This is only the third time Chesterfield County police have allowed media review of body camera footage. Per policy, they will not release the footage to the public and it will not be available through the Freedom of Information Act.

The  NAACP press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 31.