There was nothing unusual about the defense arguing that a police officer fabricated a claim of whole cloth, a complete lie. The prosecutor’s response was invariably the same: Why would the cop lie?
And indeed, the judge would peer over his spectacles, look down his nose at the defendant and counsel, and admonish them both for their attempt to smear some fine, upstanding defender of truth, honor and law with their scurrilous claims. Because why would the cop lie?
Meet New York State Trooper [FNU] Rosenblatt, who pulled over young John Houghtaling for the putative reason that his exhaust was too loud. For those wondering, there is a law prohibiting “loud or unusual” noise emitting from a muffler or exhaust set forth in Vehicle and Traffic Law §375(31). In the scheme of offenses, equipment violations tend not to get anyone terribly excited. Except, apparently Trooper Rosenblatt, though he might just be an inherently excitable fellow.
The interaction that follows Trooper Rosenblatt’s realization that he is being videoed is quite interesting:
“How about if I see you post this on Youtube, I’ll find a way for the D.A.s office to arrest you,” asks the trooper.
“Is it illegal to record police officers?” Houghtaling replies.
“When I tell you to put the phone down and you disregard what I’m telling you, yes, it is,” said Rosenblatt.
“So am I being detained for recording?”
“Put the phone down.”
“Is it illegal to record officers,” Houghtaling asks.
“Give me your license and registration,” the trooper replies.
When asked why he has been pulled over, the trooper explains “your exhaust is extremely loud, that’s why you’re being stopped.”
The officer then becomes belligerent, sarcastically saying, “Have you got an answer for that?’ before again insisting Houghtaling stop filming with his phone.
The troopers then asks, “What is your issue with always videotaping?” to which Houghtaling replies, “Am I legally obligated to answer that?”
“You’re obligated because I asked, you, that’s why” an angry Rosenblatt replies before stalking off.
Such shyness is almost endearing, but for the fact that Trooper Rosenblatt threatens to “find a way to arrest you” if Houghlating posts the video. As it turned out, Trooper Rosenblatt didn’t arrest Houghtaling, but to the extent this offers some insight had an arrest followed, it would have reflected the trooper’s unhappiness with Houghlating’s failure to do as he was told.
Why would the cop lie? Because his commands weren’t sufficiently obeyed. But the video doesn’t lie either, and this is what a real life interaction looked like before it was sanitized for the court for the purpose of showing how a fine, upstanding officer protects society from those who don’t obey them.