WI Undercover Cop Illegally Detains Man for Recording Traffic Stop


“Don’t stop people unlawfully,” said the Wisconsin man, “Honor your oath, honor your oath.”

A Wisconsin cop was caught on camera doing a traffic stop in an undercover car, and retaliated against the citizen by detaining him for absolutely no reason.

“I’m just curious,” was the Wisconsin cop’s original logic.

When the poor citizen asked the cop to articulate what actual crime he was suspected of committing, the officer could do nothing more than silently nod his head.

Wisely, the citizen asked the cop to call a supervisor, and after a lengthy detention, he was allowed to leave, parting with the words you read above.

The video, which you can see below, starts with an undercover Chevy Malibu displaying full police lights and emergency warning flashers.

An anonymous Wisconsin driver had stopped to record the police conducting a fairly unusual traffic stop in Appleton.

That’s when he got pulled over, for “suspicious behavior” by a police officer demanding his identification.

But Wisconsin doesn’t have a true “stop and identify” statute.

And since this somewhat undercover Wisconsin cop claimed he was making an investigatory stop, not a traffic stop, he actually didn’t have any lawful reason to demand identification.

Oddly, the cop was wearing a full uniform while in the unmarked chevy.

Which also placed this stop clearly within the situation described in the landmark case Terry vs. Ohio which demands that law enforcement officers be able to articulate reasonable suspicion of a crime before detaining citizens or searching them, if a state law allows that.

Because Wisconsin’s state law only authorizes police to ask a citizen for their name when detained, not for their ID, which is all that the officer asked for, he violated this driver’s 4th Amendment rights. The law reads:

“Temporary questioning without arrest.” After having identified himself or herself as a law enforcement officer, a law enforcement officer may stop a person in a public place for a reasonable period of time when the officer reasonably suspects that such person is committing, is about to commit or has committed a crime, and may demand the name and address of the person and an explanation of the person’s conduct. Such detention and temporary questioning shall be conducted in the vicinity where the person was stopped.

“Can I ask what you were doing out there, sir?” asked the Appleton officer

“I’m not going to answer any questions,” said the driver.

“So why are you asking me questions then?” asked the officer, and the audibly ticked-0ff citizen sharply replied, “Um, Because you’re a public servant, and I’m not. I’m not paid with taxpayer dollars.”

“So what’s your name, is this your car?” asked the Wisconsin cop, doggedly questioning the man after he invoked his 5th amendment rights.

“Why did you pull me over? What statute did you pull me over for? Can you articulate that?” countered the citizen.

A long pause ensues.

Maybe the officer was trying to remember this PINAC News story from last year, where a wayward Florida department’s lawyer called photography a crime if any undercover officer decided to break cover and arrest the photographer.


The stop continued, and just the recorded part is over 6 minutes long, but the standard for a detention lasting longer than is needed for simple investigatory purposes is ten minutes.

Likely, this encounter lasted a lot longer while the cop and citizen waited for a supervisor.

“Because I took your picture?” asked the citizen.

“I couldn’t tell what you were doing,” the Wisconsin cop admitted.

With that, the officer admitted he had no probable cause for an investigatory stop, other than noticing the man driving nearby.

Eventually, a supervisor arrived and stuck up for his wayward colleague, “it’s kind of a dangerous world we live in right now.”

In the video, the man said that the Supreme Court ruled on recording the police, but put up an (accurate) flag noting that actually only the 4th, 9th and 11th federal circuit courts have ruled – which is plenty to establish that it is a well known right for citizens to record their public officials like police, in public, performing their duties.

But it’s not lawful for a police officer to violate citizens’ hard won civil rights.

And it happens every day, even though, photography is not a crime in America, and it still isn’t a crime in Wisconsin either.



Citizen Journalism