Opinion

Police dashcam video raises driver conduct questions

A column by Samantha Perry, editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo Samantha Perry is the editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo
Samantha Perry is the editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — How do you react when pulled over by police for a traffic violation? Do you get angry and rant? Become defensive? Plead innocence? Do you spill out a laundry list of excuses for speeding or running a stop sign? Or do you simply say “Yes Sir” and “No Sir,” while handing over your license, insurance and registration?

Traffic stops can reveal a lot about an individual — an acceptance of responsibility for wrongdoing or a blame game of “It’s not my fault because …”

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A few months ago I was tipped off about dashcam footage of a prominent West Virginian and current gubernatorial candidate who was stopped by police for speeding. The traffic stop occurred in Lewisburg in December of last year, but its legend grew far and wide in the ensuing months.

The video was supposedly shocking and appalling, which, of course, intensified my reporter’s thirst to get my hands on it. But it wasn’t easy to nail down people, places, dates and times in the scuttlebutt universe. My sources were great, but information was scarce.

Finally, after weeks of working on the lead, I had enough details to file a Freedom of Information Act request. And, last week, the Lewisburg Police Department complied with the FOIA request and provided me a copy of the dashcam video and traffic citation.

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The video shows Jim Justice, West Virginia’s richest man, owner of The Greenbrier and a current Democratic candidate for governor, being pulled over for driving 54 mph in a 40 mph zone in the town of Lewisburg.

The rumor mill was not on par with the video. There was no screaming, yelling, cursing or ranting. There was, however, disappointing behavior…

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