Sunday, October 01, 2017

Trooper Who Pulled Over Rabbi Cleared of Wrongdoing

The Vermont State Police have released dash cam video of a traffic stop in which a Brooklyn Orthodox Jew claims he was mistreated by troopers.

It happened the night of August 8th on I-91 in Fairlee. New York Rabbi Berl Fink said he was ordered out of his car at gunpoint, handcuffed and frisked, and that family members were mistreated.

The video shows the dramatic moments that the rabbi was ordered to the ground. State Police say Trooper Justin Thompson initiated the stop for speeding, alleging the rabbi was going 83 in a 65 mph zone.

But as the video shows, Rabbi Fink failed to stop, despite emergency lights and sirens. The pursuit lasts for nearly five minutes on the video, and police say it totaled more than four miles. The rabbi eventually pulls over, and that's when he's ordered to the ground with the trooper's gun drawn.

Trooper Justin Thomson: How many people are in the car? Get on the ground right now! Get on the ground! Get on that ground. Get on the ground. Stay in the car. Stay in the car! Get on the ground with your hands out. Stay there!

Rabbi Fink: I didn't do anything.

Trooper Justin Thomson: I said stay there!

The dash cam video also shows other people in the car being ordered out and restrained. According to the rabbi's wife, her son was also put in handcuffs. She spoke out to the New York Post about the stop, calling it "traumatizing." Following her other claims of brutality, and a threat to sue in the Post story, an internal investigation was launched.

In a statement released with the 30-minute video, Vermont State Police say the trooper followed policy and procedure for what he perceived as a "high-risk" stop. It also says Trooper Thompson could not have known the driver's intentions at the time, and that there is no evidence that the his actions were based on any type of bias or profiling.

Officials say the case has been forwarded to the State Police Advisory Commission for further review. The rabbi is due in court next month for a charge of attempting to elude

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