For ten minutes, the Arizona cop followed close behind Phillip Colbert as the 22-year-old man drove under the speed limit before finally pulling him over.
The reason: Colbert had an air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror.
The La Paz County sheriff’s deputy then repeatedly asked Colbert if he smoked marijuana even though Colbert denied smoking it after the first time he was asked. He also demanded to know if Colbert had any heroin or cocaine in the car.
The deputy then accused him of being “deceptive” in an ironic attempt at deflection because Colbert appeared nervous about being harassed by a deputy on a fishing expedition.
Colbert was ordered out of the car but refused to give the deputy permission to search the car.
According to the Phoenix New Times:
At one point, Max asks Colbert what his father does for a living. He asks Colbert whether he had any cocaine or heroin, then tried to get the 22-year-old to consent to a field sobriety test and a search of his vehicle.
“I denied any of the sobriety tests,” Colbert told Phoenix New Times this week*.* “I denied him checking the car, because I felt as soon as he checked the car, he was going to try to put something in there.” It wouldn’t be the first time police officers have planted drugs on innocent drivers.
In the end, Colbert was not arrested and didn’t receive a ticket. An additional video shared with New Times shows Max walking up from his patrol vehicle and telling Colbert he was going to let him off with a warning. Colbert said the encounter took up about 40 minutes of his day, and that he has since filed two complaints with the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office, but hasn’t heard back. Colbert said he’s also been in touch with a lawyer in Phoenix regarding the incident.
Captain Curt Bagby from the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office told New Times the incident is being reviewed.
“We’re going to do a thorough investigation into this matter,” Bagby said via email. He also responded to questions about whether pulling people over for air fresheners is in line with department policy: “There are too many violations in the Arizona Revised Statutes for us to monitor everything Deputies pull people over for; I’m not sure specifically about air fresheners, [but] I know Officers will pull people over if their view is obstructed.”
As petty as it sounds, there apparently is a law in Arizona that forbids dangling objects from the rear view mirror because it is said to be an obstruction although the law is not very clear when it comes to rear view mirrors. And it’s apparently illegal in other states as this attorney points out.
Even when the cop let him off with a warning, he acted as if he was doing him a favor, especially because he got the impression that Colbert was not too fond of cops.
“You haven’t been an asshole to me, but you just obviously don’t like law enforcement,” the deputy said. “So, I’m trying to get you on a positive outlook. Obviously this wastes 20 minutes of your time. I am going to give you a warning today, OK? But maybe in the future just, like I said man, if you’ve got a joint I don’t — we’re not looking for a joint.
But even until the end, the deputy continued to accuse him of hiding marijuana in the car.