Is it a good idea to file a complaint against a police officer for harassment?

I am a 16 year old female who was in the car with my 17 year old friend who is also a female earlier tonight. She was driving us home from our friends house where we went after getting dinner. There was no alcohol or drug involved with either of us at all. She was pulled over for tailgating an undercover cop in the town over from where we live. There were four cops there to interrogate us yet two stood aside. We were TOLD that we smelt like alcohol and asked over and over again if he had drank that night. The cop who was standing on the drivers side then leaned towards the car and said to me "Well you're obviously high or drunk". We repeatedly told them that we did not consume any alcohol or drugs. They continued to insist that we did and I (the passenger) was asked to step out of the car where I was harassed by one of the cops for a half hour . I was tested using the eye to pen test for about 4 minutes. I was told repeatedly that I had consumed alcohol, and screamed at for lying and trying to make the cop seem like a "jackass" for accusing me when he has been doing "that job" for numerous years and knows when someone has been drinking. I repeatedly told the officer to breathalyze me yet he kept saying to me that "He didn't want to and he could just arrest me for suspicion since I'm underage." I told him to call my mother and that she would give him permission and he continued to tell me that he would just arrest me there. By the time I had been asked "What did you drink tonight" repeatedly for 10 minutes straight while I continued to say "nothing", I felt completely battered and harassed. I was continued to be yelled at for lying and told I had drank alcohol. My friend who was driving was never asked to get out of the car. Her mother is a probation officer and talked to the 1 cop on the phone. After he talked to her mother he decided to let us go. I was then told to get back into the car. The cop who had been harassing me then yelled at me to give him the arizona iced tea bottle that was under the passenger seat. The iced tea bottle was empty and probably weeks old. It obviously had no scent of alcohol. The officer who was talking to my friends mother then said to us to get straight home and make excuses for the way we were treated (meaning me) saying if they believed everyone who said they hadn't been drinking there would be a lot of drunk drivers on the loose. I felt so shaken and angry that I had been battered and harassed for a half hour that I became very upset and told the officer that I was very mad at how I was treated. He said to my friend "Well I can tell she has a temper." (I don't have a temper by the way.) When I got home i told my mother and she wanted to file a complaint. The officers never told us their names or anything else for that matter. The one officer was a black man and the other was asian. What would be the best way to go about filing a complaint. I am an innocent minor who was treated like a criminal and I will not stand for this.

20 Answers

  • s c
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    By all means file a complaint but I think you need to calm down a bit first and think it through and talk it over with your friend's mother.

    Some of what you say sounds a little exaggerated like, 'By the time I had been asked "What did you drink tonight" repeatedly for 10 minutes straight'

    Try seeing how many times you can say 'what did you have to drink tonight' in 10 minutes. I don't believe you were asked the same question between 80 to 120 times. It may have felt like it because you're young and you found it a difficult experience but I have real doubts about parts of what you say. I'm not saying you are lying but that you perceived the situation to be way worse than it actually was.

    You say you felt battered and harassed but that you complained to the officer about how you had been treated at the time. So you obviously felt safe enough in the circumstances to complain.

    Being stopped by the police can be bad, even if they are quite polite, as you don't know what to expect and your perception can be very different to what actually happened.

    It sounds to me as if the cop had a bad attitude but perhaps not as bad as you perceived it to be.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Depending on the size of the department or agency these officers belong to, you can file your complaint with Internal Affairs or go straight to the agency chief. If the department is large enough for four undercover officers to ride around in one car, it probably has an Internal Affairs department.

    Here is what is going to happen. You complain about being verbally harassed by an officer. Your friend (hopefully) backs up your story. The FOUR officers say the opposite. They are going to say something like you being belligerent and uncooperative with the officer, that the only time they even raised their voice was to give a loud verbal command for you to get out of the car, produce identification, and behave yourself. Most likely your complaint will be dismissed, the agency will believe four officers over two juveniles. Even if your complaint is believed the only thing that will happen to the officers is a verbal, or written (at worst), admonishment. Which is about the lowest form of disciplinary action.

    Frankly, you will accomplish more by writing a letter to the local newspaper about your treatment. The appearance of your letter in the paper or, better yet, a story by a local reporter, will embarrass the agency and officers. That is really about the best you can get out of this incident.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    This is a definite shame. It's police officers like this who give the good ones a bad name. I'm sorry you were put through this harassment, which it definitely sounds like to me. Even though you didn't get the names of the officers, it would do good to file a complaint - and if you can give the department the location and time of your interaction, that will help narrow it down some. Not sure where you live or what things are like over there, but our local department would want to know that they have officers who are treating the public this way. It could have been worse - could be worse next time if you don't try to make your voice heard. Go you for not taking the harassment.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hate to break it to you but you were neither "battered and harassed". Look up the definitions of both words in a dictionary

    If this traffic stop occurred the way you report that it did, then you could report the officers involved for discourtesy. You wouldn't actually have to know the officers names, just the time and location of the traffic stop. You could make the report (at least at my department) either on the phone or in person at the PD.

    However, before making a report, I would advise you, to take a deep breath and relax. If the officer did what you say, then go ahead and file a complaint. But if you are exaggerating or perhaps making things sound worse than they were, then I wouldn't file (NOTE-that I'm not accusing you of making anything up).

    I have been the victim of both false and exaggerated claims of harassment and discourtesy from "citizens". As I always drive a car with a dashcam, or digitally (audio) record any interaction with everyone.

    Last week I pull over a 19 year old for driving without any license plates-he had actually just registered the car, and they were sitting on the passenger seat waiting for him to affix them to his car. Instead of telling me this, he launches into a tirade of how I'm a racist etc (Professor Gates style) refuses show his DL, insurance and registration because I only stopped him because he "was driving while black". As a result he is arrested. Next day him, popa, preacher etc turn up at PD, demanding to file a complaint.

    IA sits down with them. Listens to what they say (I apparently took the plates of the car, called the kid a n____, threatened him, used excessive force while arresting him etc). IA advises the kid that's there's a dashcam recording of the traffic stop, he gets all pissed "you calling me a liar" and signs the complaint anyway. Maybe he thought they were bluffing. IA then retrieves the recording, plays it with kid, popa, preacher and me viewing it. Popa turns to son and says "That's not what you told me happened". Son is charged with filing a false police report and arrested again. My union attorney is filing the lawsuit against him for defaming me.

    Source(s): Me; Cop
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    I think it is much better not too file complaint on your part. Let this be a lesson or reminder to you about abusive police officers. Besides I doubt if these people you and your friends encountered are REAL police officers. Now a days a lot of people are pretending to be cops. Even police badge can be bought on a retail basis in some store. So it is kinda hard to find real people now a days. These people could be hoodlums pretending to be cops. Yes it is right to file a harassment charges against these police officers if they are really police officers.

    To start with, you are just merely 16 years old. They can easily twist/bend/circumvent your testimony or statement before you can say abracadabra. They can easily say you are just making things up against them because of your age. They will make you appeared you are the bad guys not them. That all you says are merely fabrication to make them look bad. If you equipped yourself with a hidden tape recorder while you are being interrogated by these people at least you got a fighting chance that your story is quite true but in these manner I think let this one go or move on. Forget it. Just make this episode of your life as a stepping stone to be a lawyer someday soon so that you can protect and defend innocent people just like what happened to you.

    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Well, I would say start with your friends mother who is a probation officer and ask her who the officer is that she spoke with on the phone. From there you CAN file a complaint against the officer. Make sure that you and your friend as well as your parents WILL be present for any and all. IF you had been drinking or smoking as you say the cop said he may very well have taken you or both of you into custody. EVEN if he later let you both go, he would or should have kept ANY evidence for the possibility of complaints. But right now it sounds like you were being dealt with by a rookie who didn't have any experience as it sounds like he totally MIS-handled this traffic stop. Please don't think of this as ALL cops as this is not the way ALL cops handle stops.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    That is not harassment, that is an officer dealing with a possible DUI/ Underage drinking situation. Assuming your story is not fabricated at all then the cop was just being an ***.

    Think about it, your a minor in a car with someone who was tailgating a cop (undercover or not still tail gating) they had a right to be suspicious as the driver was driving dangerously.

  • A T
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Bullies exist in all parts of life, call internal affairs if you can get evidence, and get the details from your pals mum indirectly ( ask your friend ), get a badge number next time because if you go on with this you will find that they simply "close ranks" against you, next time have a tape recorder with you or a mobile phone and refuse to say anything, to any one, until you have called a lawyer.

    Welcome to the real world, where cops commit exactly the same level of crime as the average citizens, ( and that is with many charges dropped against them, ) imagine the degree of criminality you would have if they actually all were prosecuted for their villainy,

    So they are not to be idolised by anyone and should be held to a higher standard of behaviour, but are not.

    And if you make a complaint, expect the harrassment to get even worse, if they have your license plate they have everything else as well !

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, this to me sounds like a very biased retelling of the situation. You say several times that you had been "battered." That really implies that you were somehow physically abused when I really don't see you describing that anywhere. You may feel emotionally battered, but that might be because you're upset at being pulled over. Give yourself some time to cool down, talk to your friend about it, and if you still think the officer was way out of line, then sure, you should file a complaint. You'll need some way to identify him, though - hopefully you have his name or something.

  • S S
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Cops put their spin on things and it become gospel all in one sentence. It is a shame they do not wait to get all of the facts. I have seen this happen so many times in my life. When a person tries to defend themselves they are labeled, hostile. There is a problem with them, not with the cops RUSH TO JUDGMENT!

    Sadly, cops cover for each other. All you will get is a bunch of lip service. Some one I know filed a complaint against a police officer for harassment and he was one of the cops that investigated the complaint. What a JOKE!

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.