Tae-Ahn Lea's video of the traffic stop in August 2018 went viral, and civil rights activists are enraged over the treatment of the teen for a minor violation.
A video of a black teen's traffic stop was reportedly viewed a million times on Youtube. As more and more people of Metro Council got to know that Tae-Ahn Lea was pulled from his car, handcuffed, searched last summer, they are waking up to hyper-policing as an issue, they said on Thursday.
Courier-Journal reports that civil rights activists and numerous Metro Council Members are enraged by the teenager's traffic stop. Councilwoman Jessica Green, who chairs the council’s public safety committee, said she has asked Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad to appear before Metro Council to answer questions about the stop of Tae-Ahn Lea and the department’s tactic of "hyper-policing" to fight violent crime in the West End.
Green, D-District 1, said the stop described in a Courier-Journal story and viewed a million times on YouTube shows how Louisville residents are "hunted down because of the color of their skin and where they live."
18-year-old Tae-Ahn Lea is black and lives in Park Duvalle, in Louisville’s West End. According to MSN, he had never been arrested in his life. He has had a steady job selling new cars at a major dealership. He has also graduated with several scholarships.
His only mistake he made one day last August was that he had taken a wider turn onto another street.
Louisville Metro Police Department's Ninth Mobile Division had pulled him over. Before being let go 25 minutes later, he was frisked and handcuffed. The police had also searched his car for drugs with a sniffer dog. His privacy was also violated as the cops went through his wallet and also checked under the lid of his drink for contraband.
At one point, while he was handcuffed, standing humiliated on the street, one of the officers ask him "Why do you have this negative view towards the police?"
Nearly 1 million people have since viewed a video of the traffic stop on YouTube, and more than 17,000 have commented on it. Many said it shows exactly why minorities distrust law enforcement.
Sadiqa Reynolds, president, and CEO of the Louisville Urban League said when she watched the video with a group of black parents on spring break, "We found ourselves talking back to the video, holding back tears."
It is easy to vicariously feel sympathy, but it is totally different from processing the hostility and distrust that a whole community has to live under. Black lives become targets of gunpoint and scrutiny at the drop of a hat, as it has been clearly evident in recent months.
"We understand the violence, we understand the drugs," she said. "But one fact remains, many of our children are innocent.
"Police need to find a better way."
Police experts who viewed the video for the Courier-Journal say that while the stop — except for the frisk — was legal, it was disturbingly disproportionate to the alleged offense and it showed the kind of bad policing that undermines the department's need to be effective.
Police found nothing in the car that day when they searched Tae-Ahn Lea's car and almost treated him like a threat - which is plausible with racial profiling. Experts on policing, including some former officers, used words such as "deplorable" and "depressing" to describe the stop.
Lea was stopped about a month before police pulled over the Rev. Kevin Cosby, senior pastor of St. Stephen Church, for an alleged traffic violation that he claimed was racially motivated.
In an interview Thursday, Cosby, who is also president of historically black Simmons College of Kentucky, said watching the video of Lea's stop was like "déjà vu."
He said the stop and search showed "how an entire community is profiled" and that it "tragic how tax money is used to harass people."
Find the full footage of the arrest here: