Many municipalities set up checkpoints for law enforcement to cut down on drunk driving over the Fourth of July holiday, but one stop in particular is getting national attention.
The now viral video posted to YouTube showing a man getting stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Rutherford County, Tennessee, has more than 2.8 million views as of Monday morning after being posted the night of the event. The video includes what the driver believes to be a unconstitutional search of his car where an officer is even recorded saying the man is “perfectly innocent and he knows his rights.”
The video shows driver, 21-year-old Chris Kalbaugh, has his window cracked as Deputy A.J. Ross walks over asking the man to roll it down further. Kalbaugh says he thinks the level he has it rolled down is “fine” because he is able to hear the officer adequately. Ross asks how old Kalbaugh is (who before providing his answer responds asking if that’s even a relevant question), walks briefly toward the back of the vehicle, returns and then asks Kalbaugh to pull over.
Kalbaugh repeatedly asks if he is being detained, not moving the car, while Ross doesn’t answer his question but tells him to either pull over or step out of the vehicle.
“After he keeps using intimidation to get me to do what he wants, all the officers surround my vehicle like I’m a criminal,” Kalbaugh wrote in the video.
Kalbaugh eventually pulls over. He then is asked to unlock his car door — he again asks if he is being detained with no response from Ross — and takes off his seat belt. Kalbaugh steps out of the car and out of the camera view.
Kalbaugh has inserted text of the conversation that took place with a faint recording of it audible on the video.
“Are you an attorney or something? You know what the law is?” Ross asks.
“Yes sir, I do,” Kalbaugh replied.
“Ok, what is the law?” Ross said.
“The law says at checkpoints I have to stop. And I did,” Ross said.
“That is all. I’m not required to answer any questions. I have Constitutional freedom to travel without being randomly stopped and questioned,” Kalbaugh continued after Ross prompted him further.
More mumbled conversation can be heard but Kalbaugh didn’t translate the text into the video at this point. The young adult later wrote that he was asked to provide his I.D., which Kalbaugh believes he legally didn’t need to as he didn’t commit any traffic violations or other infractions.
Kalbaugh then wrote that the officer asked if he could search the vehicle, which Kalbaugh said he would not consent to. Ross then got a K-9 to sniff around the vehicle.
But Kalbaugh then referenced the so-called ability of K-9s to issue a false alert. Previously, TheBlaze has reported on the questionable constitutionality of other stops where the vehicle owners felt the dog had been commanded to issue a false alert to allow the officer to legally search the interior of the car.
This is what Kalbaugh seems to believe happened to him when the K-9 handler says “check here” and the dog begins scratching.
“That is how police can give themselves permission to search your car without your consent,” Kalbaugh wrote.
Officers then search his car. While doing so, Deputy Ross is recorded saying, “he’s perfectly innocent and he knows his rights. He knows what the Constitution says.”
Another officer said, “it wasn’t a very good alert.” He then shines his flashlight on the camera, noticing it and alerts Ross that it is recording. Shuffling can be heard as the search continued but the picture goes blank.
Kalbaugh wrote that they found no illegal drugs in their search.
“All this because my window was not lowered enough to his preference. I broke no laws whatsoever. On a day that we are supposed to be celebrating freedom and liberty,” the video description stated.
Watch the footage:
The video began going viral after being uploaded to the website Libertarian Republic and then making its way to the social news site Reddit.
The Tennessean has reported the response of a Libertarian to the video:
“We’ve gotten worldwide response for this,” said Axl David, communications director for the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.
“I watched the video when he uploaded it, and my blood boiled. I think that’s why it went viral.”
David said the organization is not anti-police, and the demonstration was aimed to send the message that “any abuse of the constitution will be exposed,” David said.
The Tennessean reported Rutherford County Sheriff’s public information officer Lisa Marchesoni saying the incident is being reviewed ”to determine if there are any policy or procedure violations.”
Update: TheBlaze has corrected that neither Axl David nor Kalbaugh have said his confrontation with the police officer was planned. David emailed TheBlaze saying too that Kalbaugh had never called it a “crash the checkpoint party.” TheBlaze had reported based on an article from the Daily News Journal that David had spoken with Kalbaugh about planning the confrontation to “exercise his rights.”
In a press release, Kalbaugh, who is a member of the Rutherford County Libertarian Party, said, ”I broke no laws and I made sure to be respectful the entire time while still exercising my Constitutional freedom.”
“I wanted to show that I was not impaired and to get the confrontation over with. When I got out, he demanded my ID even though I didn’t break any laws or traffic violations. They also said they were going to search my vehicle because the drug dog ‘hit’ on the vehicle. I don’t do any drugs and I have never had any illegal substances in my car. When the officers said that the drug dog hit on my car, I became furious because I knew that was impossible. All of this happened because I did not want to lower my window all the way, which was completely legal.”
Kalbaugh also included in the press release that he didn’t intend the video to be disrespectful to law enforcement.