Aiken, SC (WJBF) – Several local groups in Aiken plan to meet with the community Monday night to address concerns over a traffic stop, where a man claims he was subject to an illegal cavity search.
A lot of people in the Aiken area and around the world found out about the two-year-old traffic stop through social media. But, News Channel 6 obtained a copy of the 36-minute dash cam video. Folks who attend the meeting, led by the Concerned Ministers Fellowship, NAACP Aiken Branch, Black Lives Matter members and African American Ministers Leadership Council will learn more details about that day.
It’s the traffic stop video that went viral. An Aiken Department of Public Safety officer pulled a car over on October 2, 2014 just after noon, at the intersection of Horry Street and Richland Avenue.
“I was disgusted when I saw what it was,” said NAACP Aiken Branch President Phillip Howell.
Rev. Paul Bush, who leads CMF, shared his first reaction to the video, “Yes, I think everybody was surprised.”
The video News Channel 6 obtained from the City Solicitor’s Office shows what happened from the dashboard camera vantage point when officers stopped Lakeya Hicks and Elijah Pontoon that early October afternoon. Community leaders have been meeting with police since the incident was reported by a national newspaper claiming an unlawful traffic stop, where white cops performed a roadside cavity search of a black man.
Below is the full, unedited dashcam video from the traffic stop. Be warned, the video may contain some harsh language.
“We want to make an intelligent approach. We like to know that we have the facts before we come forward,” Rev. Bush said.
Rev. Bush is one of several leaders working with law enforcement to get to the bottom of what happened at that intersection. A cavity search cannot be seen from the dash cam video, but police did order Pontoon out of the car. A few seconds later that same officer beckoned Hicks, his wife, out of the car. And later she goes out of frame. A dog searches the car a few minutes later.
Howell said the stop went too far.
“The thing was 36 minutes long. To detain him that long, searching him, two people searching him. The dog comes, they already had the dog ready. The dog they say alerted them on something, but they didn’t bust him. They didn’t do anything about it. They let him go. They checked the paper tag out. They checked the license out. All the paperwork was in order. They should have said we’re sorry. Go ahead and go on your way,” he said.
The City of Aiken responded in a memo stating the traffic stop was legal and part of an ongoing narcotics investigation. The memo also stated at no time was a body cavity search conducted and no private body parts were exposed. The video’s popularity has drawn together several groups, that plan to get to the bottom of the issue.
“They will be able to ask us questions,” Rev. Bush said. “We will be able to share information with them about the things that we found out and the path that we’re taking forward. We will continue to make Aiken a place where people will want to come and not a place where people will hear about it from a negative perspective.”
Rev. Bush stressed the goal is to get the right information out to make sure that people don’t come to Aiken from out of town and begin to protest and cause trouble.