FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WRIC/WAVY/WFXR) — A Virginia State Police trooper, who was caught on cellphone video yanking a man out of his vehicle after making verbal threats, has been placed on administrative leave while awaiting the results of VSP’s criminal investigation into the incident.
The incident happened back in April 2019 in Fairfax County, but the video was not posted on social media until Monday, July 13. The driver in the video — identified as Derrick T. Thompson of Woodbridge — was initially pulled over for an expired inspection sticker, but a trooper ended up using force to remove Thompson before charging him with obstruction and driving on a suspended license.
WARNING: The video below contains some profanity and may be offensive to some viewers.
Virginia State Police responded to the widely-shared two-minute cellphone clip Wednesday, July 15, saying that the actions of the trooper — identified as Charles Hewitt — was unbecoming of the strict policies in place regarding employee conduct.
“The conduct displayed by Trooper [Charles] Hewitt during the course of the traffic stop is not in agreement with the established standards of conduct required of a Virginia trooper. Nor is it characteristic of the service provided daily across the Commonwealth of Virginia by Virginia State Police personnel,” Settle wrote in the statement shared by VSP Wednesday.
The traffic stop reportedly happened around 4:15 p.m. on April 20, 2019 on I-495. According to VSP, Thompson was found to be operating on a suspended driver’s license during the stop. Troopers also said they smelled the odor of marijuana in his vehicle, after which additional troopers responded to the scene.
Thompson began recording using his cell phone, refusing multiple times to exit the vehicle, police allege.
In the cellphone video, Hewitt unlocks Thompson’s vehicle, opens up the car door, bends down to Thompson and says, while pointing at himself, “take a look at me buddy, I am a [expletive] specimen.”
The trooper continues, “You have gotten on my last nerve,” before he looks directly into the camera and says, “you’re going to get your [expletive] whooped in front of [expletive] Lord and all creation.”
Thompson is holding his hands up as the cellphone video records. He’s heard saying, “I am of no threat to these officers.”
He repeatedly says in the video, “I am being threatened.”
After giving Thompson another warning to exit the vehicle, Hewitt unlocks Thompson’s seat belt. Both exchange words, and after Hewitt gives Thompson another warning, he says Thompson is now under arrest for disobeying an officer.
Hewitt then looks into the cellphone camera, counts to two, and says, “watch the show folks,” before pulling Thompson out of the vehicle by his neck.
“How do you like that, huh?” Hewitt is heard saying, although the cellphone camera doesn’t catch footage of the arrest.
“Sir, please get off my neck. I’m not resisting. Get off my neck, sir,” says Thompson. “You are harming me, you are harming me.”
The clip ends.
Thompson was taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center where he was evaluated for a minor abrasion on his forehead.
Police say they need to investigate any use of force incident that results in an injury, no matter how minor that injury is. At the time, Hewitt did request a sergeant respond to the scene to conduct that investigation.
“The Virginia State Police adheres to strict policies regarding employee conduct and requires our employees to perform their duties with exceptional professionalism and integrity, and to treat the public with fairness and respect at all times,” VSP wrote.
WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, reached out to Thompson’s attorney, Joshua Erlich, who says he sent a letter to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office to look into the incident and learn more about Hewitt.
While no suit has been filed, Erlich says Thompson is seeking punitive damages. He did not specify how much.
WRIC reached out to Herring’s office to learn if they have received the letter Thompson’s attorney sent. No response has been given as of this writing.
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