For most of us, being pulled over for running a stop sign is not exactly a life-changing event. We get pulled over, maybe roll our eyes once we are told what we are being pulled over for, take our warning or ticket and go on about our day.
That is not how the experience went for 19-year-old Tobias Eagle of Elk Grove, California.
Eagle was making yet another trip to his moms house—something the teen does several times a day to visit, care for the dog, hang out with his sister and help mom around the house. The young man doesn’t typically get to stay for too long, though.
He is studying at nearby Sacramento State University and is nearly set to graduate with his Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and classes are a major demand.
You can watch video of the first part of the interaction below.
As Eagle pulled to his mother’s house, a police officer pulled up behind him. The female officer exited her vehicle with her hand already on her gun and her face hidden behind a Blue Lives Matter covering and sunglasses.
The young man provided his license, registration, proof of insurance and explained that this was his mother’s house. He did not understand what he was being pulled over for.
Officer Misty Johnson approached him, hand on her weapon, for slowly rolling through a stop sign instead of coming to a complete stop.
It’s at this point that the encounter gets tense, according to the teen and his family.
The interaction drew the attention of those inside the home, who had been expecting Eagle. His mother, Stacy Harvey-Slocum, had been in the garage with her husband when they noted Eagle being stopped, so they came outside.
They made sure Eagle was well-distanced from the obviously-tense officer.
“My son will not be another hashtag.”
Officer Johnson, still gripping her weapon, refused to issue Eagle a ticket for running the stop sign. Instead, she repeatedly questioned him about whether he had a criminal record, had spent time in jail and if he was on probation.
But Eagle had literally never interacted with the police before.
He had no criminal record and this was his first time ever being pulled over. Those are all things Officer Johnson would have known if she had followed procedure and run his information when he gave her his ID—something he did willingly and without hesitation.
Again the family asked Officer Johnson to just run his ID so she could issue Eagle the ticket for running the stop sign and allow them to handle it with the traffic courts. He was already at his destination so he would not be driving anywhere.
He had zero history. He had done nothing wrong beyond the traffic violation.
But rather than issue the ticket for the infraction she stopped Eagle for, Johnson opted to just stand and stare with her hand on her weapon.
Then she called for backup.
Harvey-Slocum, who had begun recording by now, narrated a first video—her voice elevated with irritation over the way the officer was handling the situation. The clip (see above) is brief, but it is incredibly tense.
In it, Johnson implies that the situation has become escalated—to which Harvey-Slocum responded:
“Okay but YOU’RE making this dangerous. You’re escalating it.”
“Go give my son his ticket and we will take care of this in court. You will NOT be the judge and executioner on this property right here.”
The officer nodded, but didn’t move. Instead, Johnson stood holding Eagle’s relevant paperwork—one foot up on the curb, one hand resting on her gun. Harvey-Slocum asked why the officer is refusing to do her job and just issue the ticket.
Officer Johnson tells Harvey-Slocum that she is being violent and verbally aggressive. She also points out that her hand is resting on her gun’s holster, not the gun—turning her hip to display the weapon.
“No, I’m not being verbally aggressive. You will not change this up.”
“You will not create the narrative here that we’ve been seeing on the news. If he ran the stop sign, that’s what you’re saying, we will happily take the ticket.”
“But I will not allow my son to stand here in front of you with your hand on your gun. That will not happen.”
The officer replied her hand is on her gun so she was ready if Eagle ran.
Harvey-Slocum pointed out how ridiculous that is. The camera panned to Eagle, who stood calmly and still on the curb right where he was told to stand.
His hands were visible. He was on his family’s property, next to his pajama-clad parents.
There were no indications he would run. Even if he did run, he would have been running from a minor traffic infraction where the officer had his license, registration, vehicle and home address.
There is no threat.
There is no weapon aside from the one the officer has her hand on. She is the only one who could possibly pose a danger at the moment. Also, even if he did run, officers are trained to chase—not to shoot and kill.
Again the officer was asked why she won’t just issue the ticket so that she can leave.
Officer Johnson responded:
“In due time.”
In a second video, which runs a bit under fifteen minutes long, backup arrived and told Harey-Slocum that the officer couldn’t just issue the ticket because the situation was not an ordinary interaction. The family was adamant it could have been a very ordinary traffic ticket had the officer just done what she was supposed to do and issue the ticket.
Their position was Officer Johnson—not the family or Eagle—continued to escalate the situation. It was Officer Johnson who refused to issue the ticket.
It was Officer Johnson who insisted on standing with her hand on her weapon. It was Officer Johnson who did not believe that Eagle had no criminal history.
It was Officer Johnson who refused to run his information to confirm. It was Officer Johnson who called in multiple other squad cars, bringing more weapons and manpower to the scene.
All they wanted was the ticket, something they explained to multiple officers multiple times.
You can watch both videos here as cut together and posted on Harvey-Slocum’s Facebook page.
Things were eventually settled and everyone was safely able to go on their way.
Many believe that would not have been the case had Eagle’s family not been at the ready with both knowledge and cameras.
Twitter shared the video widely.
She wanted to antagonize the young man. Then she could render judgment, conviction, and execution based on a supposed fear of the Black male.https://t.co/D4rVrNHWPD
— FyahStarr (@starr_fyah) September 18, 2020
She was itching to kill him…salivating even.https://t.co/QFU5oC1h1t
— IAmJLW💙🏁💘💎🇺🇲 (@jezusgurl55) September 19, 2020
Dear @ElkGrovePD @CityofElkGrove, That you cannot immediately see the problem here demonstrates the reason for public distrust of Law Enforcement as well as the need for police reform. This is clearly a matter of racism and the officer should be fired.
— Cheryl (@chuerta1) September 17, 2020
We can definitely do without her Remember her name She will come up sooner than later with a body & her Dept will feed us BS as if they didn't know Maybe karma strike her early to avoid a future hash taghttps://t.co/A5CiSWg37h
— Alyssia Mendez (@laiidee) September 18, 2020
Wondering how this could have easily been so much worse if this young man’s mother hadn’t been there. This is a neighboring community to Sacramento, CA. https://t.co/pJlhUy6CFw
— Leilani. (@luckylalakitty) September 18, 2020
Whew. Everyday I see why I need to change my career path 🤦🏾♀️https://t.co/gWdwKxHBSx
— 8/6♌️ (@CEEM0NEY) September 18, 2020
— EJ (they/them) (@EJPDX2020) September 19, 2020
The Elk Grove police department is, thus far, backing their officer saying she violated no policies or procedures.
Having said that, both Elk Grove Police Chief Tim Albright and Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly reached out to the family to apologize over the incident. Initially, the family agreed to have a meeting at the police station over it, but they cancelled and opted to continue with the formal complaint process instead. Why?
Harvey-Slocum explained to ABC10:
“The officer is still out here, patrolling our neighborhood with a loaded gun, with the same mind frame, of her tattoos and that mask … that same prideful mind frame, so that means nothing unless officers independently are being held accountable.”
“America is tired of it.”
As for Eagle, the young man the officer deemed such a threat even though he stood in shocked silence for most of the encounter, he has returned to his intense studies. That doesn’t mean the encounter didn’t change him, though.
He explained to news outlets that his first encounter with police left him feeling “blown back” in a way that was difficult to articulate. The reason he seems almost oddly still during the videos is because he was purposefully trying not to move or speak since the officer kept her hand on her gun.