The violent arrest of a Black man named Derrick Thompson by Virginia State Police is being investigated after Thompson’s lawyer, Joshua Ehrlich, released video of the arrest to the public and contacted Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring about the incident.
The arrest, which took place on April 20, 2019 (the unofficial international cannabis holiday) began because police said they noticed Thompson’s inspection decal on his car had expired. The officer who made the stop—who has not been identified—also claimed she could smell cannabis coming from the car, which would give police the right to search Thompson’s car.
State Trooper Charles Hewitt, who took the lead on the stop, is shown in cell phone video recorded by Thompson, opening the door and threatening Thompson and bragging about his physique (“Look at me, I’m a fucking specimen here buddy,” Hewitt says) while Thompson calmly narrates, showing that his hands are up.
“You’re gonna get your fucking ass whooped in front of Lord and all creation,” Hewitt says while looking at Thompson’s cell phone, making it clear he knows he is being recorded.
“I’m being threatened right now, I am not doing anything,” Thompson says.
Thompson continues recording and narrating and then Hewitt puts his finger in Thompson’s face and screams, “I’m giving you until the count of three,” and demands Thompson get out of the car and says that Thompson is under arrest. Thompson continues narrating to the camera with his hands up.
“This officer has threatened me and I’m making it known I am not a threat to this officer,” Thompson says.
“Watch the show folks,” Hewitt says, looking into Thompson’s phone, and smiling.
Then Hewitt puts his arm around Thompson’s neck and pulls him out of the car and onto the road.
“My life is in danger, my life is in danger,” Thompson says.
Thompson’s cell phone falls as Hewitt grabs him and we cannot see anything but we do hear Hewitt grunting, “How you like that? How you like that?”
According to Thompson’s lawyer Ehrlich who spoke to the Washington Post, no cannabis was found in the car.
Virginia State Police superintendent, Colonel Gary Settle released a statement after reviewing the cell phone video: “The conduct displayed by Trooper Hewitt during the course of the traffic stop is not in agreement with the established standards of conduct required of a Virginia trooper. Nor is it characteristic of the service provided daily across the Commonwealth of Virginia by Virginia State Police personnel,” the statement read.
Hewitt has been put on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.