January 18, 2019
Home / National News / Rider Stopped At Gunpoint Gets $65,000

Rider Stopped At Gunpoint Gets $65,000

SEATTLE – A motorcyclist in Washington is getting a $65,000 settlement in a case against the King County Sheriff’s Office involving a a plainclothes detective who brandished a gun at him during a traffic stop in August 2017. The department has also agreed to amend its use-of-force policies, according to a story in the “Seattle Times” newspaper.

The incident, which the rider recorded on helmet cam, resulted in detective Richard Rowe being suspended for five days without pay for being discourteous and displaying conduct unbecoming an officer. It also garnered the sheriff’s office a lot of negative publicity as the video went viral.

Rider Alex Randall had just pulled up to a stoplight on his Yamaha R1 on Aug. 16, 2017 when Rowe approached him from behind with a gun held tight to his chest.

In the video, which was posted on YouTube, the startled and terrified rider exclaimed, “Oh shit, what are you doing to me?”

The detective responded, “What do you mean what am I doing? You’ve been fucking driving reckless. Give me your driver’s license or I’ll knock you off this bike.”

Following an internal investigation of the traffic stop, Rowe was suspended, but exonerated from using excessive force, in part because the sheriff’s office policies did not define pointing a gun at a citizen as a use of force.

In a statement released last week, Randall’s attorney, Christopher Carney, said the policy lapse was based on the department’s misunderstanding of the law.

“In fact, federal courts have repeatedly held that pointing a gun at a citizen does constitute a use of force, and that the U.S. Constitution requires that pointing a gun must be objectively reasonable and done for a lawful purpose,” Carney wrote.

“This significant flaw in the Sheriff’s policies is highly problematic because it fails to inform officers that they must have a lawful basis to point a gun at a citizen, and also because it fails to create supervisory review of pointing a gun as is required for all other uses of force.”

Under the settlement, the sheriff’s office also agreed to alter its training and policies.

– By Bud Wilkinson

Edited at 3:47 p.m. – to remove “routine” from the description of the traffic stop. Rider had been admittedly traveling 75-80 miles per hour before being confronted by the detective.

 

About Bud Wilkinson

An award-winning print and broadcast journalist, Bud Wilkinson writes the RIDE-CT motorcycle column and My Ride vintage car feature for the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. He studied journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University where he received a B.A. degree. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville.

3 comments

  1. Paul-Joseph de Werk

    Being pulled over for speeding, is routine, but being pulled with a gun drawn on you for speeding is not. I have gotten pulled over for speeding, but I have NEVER been pulled over and had their gun drawn on me for doing so.

  2. Since when has being pulled over by the police for speeding not been a routine traffic stop, its routine, they do it all day every day, nothing more routine than that

  3. That was not a “routine traffic stop”, as the story describes it. (Editor’s note: Story has been amended with explanation at the bottom.)

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