A cop tried to arrest him for wearing a hoodie, but that's not where the harassment ended

Aaron Reinas was just blocks from his home when a San Bernardino, California, sheriff accosted and accused him of burglarizing cars. What happened next reveals the dangers of unchecked police power and the dire consequences individual citizens can face for standing up for their rights. PAR investigates Reinas’s questionable arrest and why police often ignore the law in pursuit of phantom crimes.

Pre-Production/Studio: Stephen Janis
Post-Production: Stephen Janis, Dwayne Gladden


Transcript

Taya Graham:     Hello. My name is Taya Graham and welcome to the Police Accountability Report. As I always make clear, this show has a single purpose: holding the politically powerful institution of policing accountable, and to do so, we don’t just focus on the bad behavior of individual cops. Instead, we examine the system that makes bad policing possible. Today, we will achieve that goal by examining how the powers of policing have spiraled out of control. And we will do so by showing you this encounter with a San Bernardino County police officer who not only harassed one of our viewers, but went to extreme lengths to put him in jail. But before we get started, I want you watching to know that if you have evidence of police misconduct, please email it to us privately par@therealnews.com and please like, share, and comment on our videos. You know I read your comments and appreciate them.

Of course, you can always reach out to me directly at @tayasbaltimore on Facebook or Twitter, and if you can, please hit the Patreon donate link pinned in the comments below because we do have some extras for our PAR family. All right. Now we’ve gotten all that out of the way.

Now, as you know, this show doesn’t just focus on bad cops. Instead, we are constantly using examples of unjust policing to highlight the ever-evolving expansion of police power. It’s a topic we think doesn’t get enough attention and is clearly more problematic than meets the eye. Nothing embodies that lack of context more than the video I’m going to show you now. It depicts an encounter between a San Bernardino county sheriff and one of our viewers, Aaron Reina. Reina was walking home in his own neighborhood in Yucaipa, California, on the evening of Aug. 30, 2019, when he was accosted by this officer. Let’s watch.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Officer:                 Your ID on you?

Aaron Reina:         For what, sir?

Officer:                    You’re walking around in the dark, it’s 81 degrees out, with a sweatshirt and hood up. So, I’m seeing what you’re doing.

Aaron Reina:          I’m walking.

Officer:                  So, take the light out of my face, please.

Aaron Reina:           Take the light off me.

Officer:                     You don’t have a light on you.

Aaron Reina:          Officer.

Officer:                Do you have ID with you?

Aaron Reina:       Yeah.

Officer:                  Okay. Can I see it?

Aaron Reina:             For what?

Officer:                  To confirm who you are and where you live.

Aaron Reina:             I don’t need to answer questions like that, officer.

Officer:                  How old are you?

Aaron Reina:          I’m 35 years old.

Officer:                 Okay. Do you have ID with you?

Aaron Reina:           Yeah.

Officer:                      Okay. Can I see it?

Aaron Reina:          No.

Officer:                   No?

Aaron Reina:            I’m not legally obligated to show you that, officer.

Officer:                  You’re right. You’re not.

Aaron Reina:           Therefore, I will not.

Officer:                 Okay. What’s your date of birth?

Aaron Reina:              6/15/84.

Officer:                 6/15/84? What’s your last name?

Aaron Reina:           I don’t need to give you that information, officer.

Officer:                      Okay. Well, I’m going to confirm who you are. So, you can either provide that to me or not. It’s up to you, dude.

Aaron Reina:         How do you plan on doing that?

Officer:                     What? What’s that?

Aaron Reina:              How do you plan on doing that?

Officer:                  You can be a normal person and say, hey, my name is Joseph.

Aaron Reina:          A normal officer would say, there’s no problem here, sir.

Officer:                   Well, yeah. You’re walking around in the dark with a hood on, sweatshirt. [Even when] it’s 81 degrees.

Aaron Reina:        It’s not my fault.

Officer:                  With a black backpack.

Aaron Reina:            The street has absolutely no streetlights, sir. It’s not my problem.

Officer:                   I didn’t say anything about the lighting.

Aaron Reina:          You just said it’s dark.

Officer:                You’re walking around in the dark at night –

Aaron Reina:           Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Officer:                 …81 degrees with a hood up and sweatshirt on and a black backpack.

Aaron Reina:           It’s not 81.

Officer:                  It is. This takes the temperature.

Aaron Reina:            Does that bother you?

Officer:                  No. Last name?

Aaron Reina:             I’m not telling you that, officer.

Officer:                     Okay.

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:            First, it’s important to note that Aaron was simply walking on his own street, not far from his home. And second, that the officer had not witnessed him commit a crime. So, he did not have reasonable articulable suspicion to stop him. But that didn’t prevent the officer from threatening him with arrest. Let’s watch.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Aaron Reina:        Look, officer. No legal obligation to do so. Therefore, can you please stop harassing me?

Officer:                  I’m not harassing you.

Aaron Reina:        Yes, you are.

Officer:                    No, I’m not. You going to give me your last name and your date of birth?

Aaron Reina:          No.

Officer:                     No? Okay. What’s your address?

Aaron Reina:        Excuse me?

Officer:                  What’s your address?

Aaron Reina:             Why?

Officer:                   Where were you coming from?

Aaron Reina:              I’m coming from Persimmon.

Officer:               Okay. You were coming out of the front yard.

Aaron Reina:           Out of what front yard?

Officer:                  Over here on that street on Date.

Aaron Reina:       Is that what you think?

Officer:                   That’s what it looked like. Yeah.

Aaron Reina:          Okay.

Officer:                    So, where do you live at?

Aaron Reina:      Persimmon.

Officer:                 Okay. What’s your address on Persimmon?

Aaron Reina:      Why? Wait, how are you going to confirm that?

Officer:              Okay. Do you have your ID on you?

Aaron Reina:            Are you going to go over there and go ask somebody if I live there? Go ahead.

Officer:                Do you have your ID on you?

Aaron Reina:          Yeah, I do.

Officer:                 Okay. Can I see it?

Aaron Reina:         I am not legally –

Officer:                  Last time.

Aaron Reina:           …Obligated to –

Officer:                  Last time.

Aaron Reina:         Last time? I’m not legally obligated to show you that, officer.

Officer:                14-11. You’re right. You’re not. Walk over to my car.

Aaron Reina:            For what, officer?

Officer:                  Because now you’re being detained.

Aaron Reina:          For what?

Officer:                  To confirm your ID to make sure you’re not out here breaking into cars. That’s why.

Aaron Reina:            What crime is that?

Officer:                    What crime is that?

Aaron Reina:            Yes, sir.

Officer:                     Let’s see. It’s called burglary. It’s called –

Aaron Reina:           I’m not – Did you see me burglarizing, officer?

Officer:                  California and Date. HMA. It’s called prowling. Yeah.

Aaron Reina:           I’m not prowling.

Officer:                Bag check. Walk over to my car.

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:          But even though Aaron knew his rights and was clear to the officer that he was not willing to relinquish them, the cop kept pushing him for identification. Let’s listen.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Officer:                   Walk over to my car. Put your phone down. You’re being detained. Walk over to my car.

Aaron Reina:           For what crime, officer? For what crime am I being detained?

Officer:                      For prowling. Walk over to my car.

Aaron Reina:           Prowling.

Officer:                 California and Date. Now, get your ID out.

Aaron Reina:           Huh?

Officer:                  Get your ID out, please.

Aaron Reina:          My ID?

Officer:                 Your ID card.

Aaron Reina:          Officer, I have no legal obligation to show you that. Why would I?

Officer:                 That’s fine. Do you have anything on just going to poke me, stick me, or stab me? I’m going to pat you down.

Aaron Reina:          No.

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:       Now, this is where my previous point about police power becomes essential to the story because what we’re witnessing in this video isn’t just an example of a cop overreaching. In fact, what we are seeing is actually how pervasive and destructive police power is. What do I mean? Well, after Aaron again asserted his right to walk in his own neighborhood unimpeded, the officer persisted, even though we know one of the most basic principles of our Constitution is the right to peaceably assemble. The officer would not relent. And yes, I know there are going to be a million cop lovers out there who are going to leave comments that the officer did indeed have reasonable articulable suspicion. But what exactly is reasonable? Does what happened actually fit the definition? Let’s watch again and reconsider the question.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Officer:                …live at?

Aaron Reina:          Excuse me?

Officer:                  Where do you live at?

Aaron Reina:             Why?

Officer:                     [inaudible]. Come here, dude.

Aaron Reina:            I live over there, sir.

Officer:                    Come here. Told you twice to come here, so come here. Your ID on you?

Aaron Reina:          For what, sir?

Officer:                    You’re walking around in the dark, it’s 81 degrees out, with a sweatshirt and hood up. So, I’m seeing what you’re doing.

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:         But even though the officer eventually let Aaron go, that’s not where this story ended. Not hardly. Because roughly a year later, another San Bernardino sheriff showed up at his door, an encounter that Aaron caught on his cell phone and provided to us. Let’s listen.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Aaron Reina:         What’s the warrant for?

Officer:                 The warrant’s for traffic.

Aaron Reina:          [crosstalk] For traffic?

Officer:                We don’t have a warrant.

Aaron Reina:         For traffic? So, what the fuck are you doing at my house? Leave.

Speaker:                  [Crosstalk]. Aaron.

Aaron Reina:            Come back with the warrant.

Speaker:               Aaron. Stop.

Officer:                  Aaron [crosstalk].

Aaron Reina:             Come back with the warrant.

Speaker:              Aaron, stop.

Officer:                     We have the warrant, Aaron.

Speaker:                    Aaron, stop.

Officer:                  I have it with me. Okay? I just want to give you a citation.

Aaron Reina:             Traffic?

Officer:                     Yes, traffic.

Aaron Reina:             I’m in my house.

Officer:                   What?

Aaron Reina:           I’m in my house right now.

Officer:                I understand that.

Aaron Reina:         You understand that?

Officer:                   I can see you’re in your house.

Aaron Reina:            I think you need to leave because this has nothing to do with traffic. Do you see a car here?

Officer:                     No, no. It’s not a traffic ticket.

Aaron Reina:         Why are you talking to me through this?

Officer:                  Because you won’t open the door.

Aaron Reina:          Why are you knocking on my door?

Officer:                     Because you have a warrant for your arrest.

Aaron Reina:         For traffic?

Officer:                  Yes.

Aaron Reina:            So, why are you at my door?

Officer:                     Because we have a warrant for your arrest.

[VIDEO CLIP END]

Taya Graham:          So, as you can hear, this San Bernardino Sheriff showed up at his door telling him there was a warrant for his arrest. In fact, the cop not only refused to be specific about the charges, but he continued to try to coax Aaron to leave his home.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Aaron Reina:        No, no. You’re trying to make a deal with me in front of my own house.

Officer:                   No, we’re not.

Aaron Reina:            No, yes you are.

Officer:                  I can give you a ticket for a warrant.

Aaron Reina:              You can?

Officer:                 Yes. I’ll give you a ticket.

Aaron Reina:           Well, then go ahead and write… Dude, go ahead and leave that there.

Officer:                      No, I can’t leave it up… You have to sign it.

Aaron Reina:              [crosstalk] I will sign it. You can come back tomorrow. Pick up your triplicate.

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:             Now, fortunately, again, Aaron did not give in and he was not arrested. But there is more to the story which we’ll be hearing from him soon. But first, I’m going to check in with my reporting partner, Stephen Janis, who has been reaching out to San Bernardino Police for comment, and find out what he learned. Stephen, thank you for joining me.

Stephen Janis:           Taya, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Taya Graham:           So, who did you reach out to and what did you ask?

Stephen Janis:        Well, Taya, I reached out to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, to their public spokesperson. I asked him a series of questions. Number one, why was Aaron detained? What was the reasonable articulable suspicion for detaining him? Were there police reports related to this detaining? What happened after he was detained? Why was he released? Then of course, the follow-up visit asking questions about all that for an explanation, why they were justified, and what happened.

Taya Graham:         What was their response? Have you heard back from them?

Stephen Janis:          Well, indeed, I did hear back this time. We gave them a little bit more time to respond. They said that the officer had every right to stop him because he was wearing a hoodie in 80 degree weather and walking. So, they really said that the officer had every legal right, the reasonable articulable suspicion was absolutely Constitutional, and they really didn’t say there was any reason he couldn’t stop him. They said that they had found that he had a FTA, as he has told us in the interview, as you’ll see, for a minor traffic violation. They arrested him on that and then released him.

The second visit was for that same case where he failed to appear, and there was a $100,000 FTA is what they called it, or a $100,000 for a minor traffic infraction misdemeanor. I think that raised a lot of questions and I asked him, is that high? And they said, no, that’s very normal. So, one has to wonder, why are they charging someone $100,000 bail on a minor traffic violation? That, I will be looking into. That, we need more information on and I’ll get back to you on that.

Taya Graham:        Part of what makes this case so troubling is how much it exemplifies the broad expansion of police power. Now, I know you just produced a podcast on the topic. Can you talk to us a little bit about it?

Stephen Janis:        Well, I think we need to look at power in the way it expresses itself, and expresses itself through action. In these cases, we have very, very minor, minor encounters. Right? He’s walking down the street. Suddenly, he’s got a $75,000 or $100,000 warrant with an FTA attached to it. He is just minding his own business, has not committed a crime. The officer didn’t witness a crime. One thing that we’ve seen in this country is that minor encounters with police can often lead to deadly consequences. So, when you think about it, once that officer has him in his power, control, anything can happen. And we’ve seen it before. Most importantly, that sort of expansive power infiltrates the psychology of our civic spaces. So, we have to be really cognizant that police power doesn’t just evidence itself in courts and FTAs and things like that, but in their ability to police space.

Taya Graham:         For more information on how this police stop happened, its consequences, and its fallout since, I’m joined by the man who we see in the stop, Aaron Reina. Aaron, thank you so much for joining me.

Aaron Reina:             No problem. Thanks for getting back to me.

Taya Graham:          So, first, describe to me what we’re seeing in the video. It seems as if you were walking through a neighborhood, minding your own business.

Aaron Reina:             Yeah. Yeah. That is exactly what I was doing. I was walking in my own neighborhood headed on my way to the liquor store to have a little bit of beer. It was, I believe, Saturday or Friday night. So, I just walked right past the officer. He was parked on the same street that I was walking on where I filmed my video and he was facing the other street. I guess checking to see if cars were going by. I walked right past him and he let me get down the street a little bit and then he turned his car on and started flipping a U-turn.

So, that’s when I thought, oh, my gosh. He’s probably going to stop me. So, I pulled out my cell phone and he starts yelling out the window, where do you live at? So, I just wanted to make sure my phone was on before I addressed him, and when I saw it was recording, I asked him again, I asked him, excuse me? That’s when the video starts, and you can clearly hear him say, where do you live at? I asked him why and he hopped out of his vehicle.

Taya Graham:          Why do you think the officer stopped you and what was his line of reasoning?

Aaron Reina:           I don’t know why he stopped me. Maybe it was a slow night for him or something. But as he told me, he said, it’s dark out, you’re wearing a hoodie, and I need to know what you’re doing out here. So, that to me was his MO.

Taya Graham:         So, things seemed to escalate really quickly. Can you describe how the officer interacted with you? Did he say you were guilty of a crime? Because he admitted he never actually saw you commit a crime.

Aaron Reina:              Well, pretty much. Well, he says, I need to find out if you’re out here committing burglaries. But if he never saw me doing any of that, then he would have said, I saw you doing this. I need to check your backpack because I think you stole exactly this item and this is where I’m going to find it. I thought he might have said something like that, like he had a reason to pull me over. But he just said, I need to find out what you’re doing, and he needed my ID so he could find out what I’m doing, which made no sense to me. But that’s the way he went about it.

Taya Graham:         So, what happened at the end of the video? You were right to want to be in the line of sight with the camera.

Aaron Reina:             Like he said, he was trying to push me towards the back because I was towards the front quarter panel of the vehicle, and I wanted to be right directly in front of the car. So, he was pushing me toward the back more. So, I just pushed forward a little bit. So, that’s when he says, don’t square up with me. I told him, I want to be in front of the camera. He said, there is no camera, which made no sense to me. They’re supposed to have either a body camera or a dash cam.

Taya Graham:           It seems like he put you in cuffs, effectively arresting you. What happened next?

Aaron Reina:          He put me in cuffs, he searched through my backpack, he searched through my personal belongings, my pockets. He got my wallet, my ID, he ran my name and then he said, oh, look at that. He called dispatch. He said, oh, look at that. You have a bench warrant for your arrest. I said, okay.

Taya Graham:           So, how long were you detained for?

Aaron Reina:              He took me out to the station. So, I guess that was like eight hours or something until they released me. It was like a misdemeanor traffic violation.

Taya Graham:           Something strange happened later once you were home. Can you describe what happened?

Aaron Reina:           Probably like 9:18 PM, and a deputy sheriff was banging on the door, shining his light in the window, and he’s saying, you need to come out. I got a warrant for your arrest. Come out and talk to me. I said, a warrant for my arrest? I was like, I’ve been home all day. So, to me, it just made no sense why this guy is even coming to my door. I’ve never seen him before in my life. I’m asking him, what kind of warrant are you talking about? He’s all, it’s a warrant for your arrest. I said, is it a bench warrant? He said, yeah.

I said, well, what does that have to do with you coming and looking for me at my house? Eventually, he just kept trying to get me to go outside so that way, he’s all, all I got to do is get you to sign this ticket and then I’ll leave. Which, that’s not the truth. What he’s going to do is arrest me once I go out there. So, I just told him, leave the ticket in the mailbox. Leave it in the mailbox, I’ll sign it and you can come back and pick it up. Eventually, I told him, leave the property. You’ve been asked plenty of times to leave, and eventually he left.

Taya Graham:          So, it seems to me you understood your rights very well in that situation. Do you feel like the officer violated your civil rights?

Aaron Reina:             Definitely the first officer, Officer Rose, for sure. He absolutely had no reason to stop me. I was just walking. He said he didn’t even cite me for what he had detained me for, which he said was prowling.

Taya Graham:             Now, we’ve encountered other people who have been harassed by the San Bernardino County law enforcement, like Daniel Alvarez. Have you personally had bad experiences before? Or do you know of others who have been harassed or falsely imprisoned?

Aaron Reina:               I don’t know anybody else who has similar stories to mine. But I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of plenty of times by police officers at the same time. That’s when I was much younger. I didn’t know much about what my rights actually were, didn’t know about the Fourth Amendment and things of that nature.

Taya Graham:         So, what are your next steps? Are you going to file a complaint against the officers?

Aaron Reina:          I was told if you file complaints that they really don’t do anything about it anyway. So, to me, it seems like hiring a lawyer to do all these things, it’d be too expensive for me. So, it’s just, I guess, take it on the chin. Yeah. Like I said, I’ve watched a lot of videos from cop watchers and other types of videos on the same subject and you always see them do their audits, but you never hear any type of feedback as far as legal ramifications for the police officer or things like that unless it’s really serious.

Taya Graham:          Now, I want to drill down on this notion of police power and how it affects our communities in ways that I think often go unnoticed. Sometimes it’s obvious, like Aaron’s case where a cop simply uses the pretext of the law to enforce his own unlimited sense of power despite the rights clearly enumerated in the Constitution. But other times the expansion of police power is more insidious, but no less dangerous. What do I mean? Well, consider this recent announcement, by the FBI no less, about the implementation of a law passed by Congress. It was a press release that received little attention, but is precisely the kind of rogue application of police powers that exemplifies the concerns I raised at the beginning of the show.

So, as part of the now controversial 1994 Get Tough on Crime Bill, legislators inserted a clause in the bill that is only now coming to our attention. The language required that the Department of Justice should track uses of excessive force by police and then issue a public report annually that would be available to everyone. But guess what? Turns out that the recent study by the GAO, or the Government Accountability Office, found that the DOJ has basically ignored that part of the law. Let me repeat. The freaking Justice Department, the Department of Justice, the primary pillar of America’s so-called rule of law democracy, just decided to ignore the will of Congress. So, how’s that for your no one is above the law phrasing that political elites love to repeat like a mantra for their fair rule of law God who doesn’t exist? But it gets worse. After outcry from activists and active investigative reporting on the disproportionately high number of police killings in the US, the FBI actually decided to ask police agencies across the country to voluntarily turn over the number and nature of police killings involving their officers.

You heard me correctly. Even though there is a law already on the books passed by Congress which required at least some information about police abuse to be turned over by these agencies, the other pillar of American law enforcement, the FBI, simply sought volunteers. Guess how that worked out? Well, recently, The Washington Post reported that because so many agencies have decided to not comply with the request, the entire program may be shut down. I’m not kidding. So many police departments have just decided to say, no thanks, that the federal government has started to wind down the entire idea. Nevermind that, as we said before, American police kill almost 1,000 people every year. Nevermind, as we’ve seen on this show, police have no problem overreaching as they continually abuse the laws that they are supposed to enforce. What this really boils down to is a complete and highly illuminating reflection of what political elites mean when they say we’re a nation of laws or that no one is above them.

It’s a phrase we hear often to justify destructive policies like the war on drugs or mass incarceration. But it’s also an idea that implies the law must be applied rigorously – With a major caveat: except for those aforementioned elites. If you don’t believe me, consider the otherwise sacred laws that compel us all to pay taxes. It’s actually a legal requirement that is considered so unbreachable that the old joke goes, and I’m paraphrasing here, that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. But in fact, a small group of people have managed to avoid this apparently unwavering legal destiny. According to this report by the US Treasury, the country’s wealthiest citizens avoid roughly $163 billion in taxes every single year. That’s billion with a B. How do they do it? By paying high powered lawyers to bend the law to their advantage.

But that’s not the only bit of irony that emerges from the enforcement of the tax code in our nation governed by the so-called rule of law. Turns out that, despite the fact that the rich are ripping off the US treasury for billions every year, enforcement disproportionately falls on the poorest. According to this 2019 report by the journalism website, ProPublica, a person who makes less than $20,000 per year is just as likely to be audited by the IRS as someone who earns over one million per year. In other words, the IRS aims its limited resources at some of the poorest people in America while the rich keep getting away with skirting, if not avoiding, the law altogether. My point here is simple. Not so much to criticize the idea of the law per se, but the culture that surrounds it, because on this show, I am constantly receiving emails and messages from people who have been arrested and imprisoned and otherwise just ruined by infractions just as absurd and victimless as what we saw with Aaron.

Day in and day out, I am bombarded by queries asking for us to report on some ridiculous arrest and minor infraction, the result of the implementation of a meaningless law or an absurd interpretation of it. All of these requests generally lead to the loss of jobs, the loss of housing, financial ruin, or other losses that in no way match the alleged impact of their so-called crimes. That’s why this concept that we are a nation of laws and that no one is above it is a bunch of neoliberal, excuse my French, BS. As we can see demonstrated by the richest of the rich, the idea that we all must pay taxes to contribute to the common good is really optional.

The notion that the same laws, which require people like you and me to pay our fair share, is really just a request for the wealthy. A plea, so to speak, to contribute if they can, which is yet another example of how our system of justice is at the very least two-tiered, if not more akin to the nine levels of Hell Dante explicated in his classic and often referenced work of literature. Except all the rich people who occupied Dante’s Inferno are given the ability to opt out. Nevertheless, it’s something worth noting. When we see a cop chasing down a man who was simply walking home wearing a hoodie, I think there is much more behind this encounter than just another example of police overreach.

I think that informing this officer’s sense of omnipotence and his blatant disregard for Constitutional rights is the profound weight of the inequities we’ve described here that corrupt our imbalanced injustice system. I think all the aforementioned evasions of law by the powerful are balanced by implementing it harshly and indiscriminately against everyone else, just like we see in the video. That is, in order to make inequality look good and just, police are tasked with making the rest of us look bad or undeserving. In other words, the true purpose of harshly enforcing trivial laws and discounting substantive violations by the rich is simply a way of making a lack of fairness seem inevitable. Aren’t the rich just better and smarter and just more deserving of healthcare and compassion? And aren’t the rest of us guilty of being unworthy when we walk in our own neighborhoods or demand that our Constitutional rights be respected?

That’s why we see stories like Aaron’s over and over again, and that’s why American policing, as we have argued before, is simply antithetical to the notion of democracy. Just imagine if the cop had acknowledged Aaron’s rights to walk unnoticed in his own neighborhood. Just imagine if he had said, I respect your rights and I will act accordingly. Well, I think I know what you’re going to say. You can’t imagine it, and that’s the point. The entire idea of unlimited police power, immersed in it. We no longer have the agency or presumption of innocence. Instead, we are simply another suspect, another misfit cog in the machine of inequality which looms over our country like a tornado, uprooting and destroying lives and leaving little resembling community in its wake.

I think that’s the message abusive police power sends, an argument that this assertion of power over our communal space is trying to make, that the law doesn’t really matter except when it applies to you. Well, that’s why we produce this show and why we’ll continue to do so, because you matter to us. I want to thank Aaron Reina for sharing his experience with us. Thank you, Aaron. And of course, I want to thank intrepid reporter, Stephen Janis, for his writing, his research, and his editing on this piece. Thank you, Stephen.

Stephen Janis:          Taya, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. It is great to be outside again. It’s 30 degrees.

Taya Graham:          And I want to thank friend of the show, Noli Dee, for her support. Thanks, Noli Dee. And a very special thanks to our Patreons. We appreciate you. And I want you watching to know that if you have evidence of police misconduct or brutality, please share it with us and we might be able to investigate for you. Please reach out to us. You can email us tips privately at par@therealnews.com and share your evidence of police misconduct. You can also message us @Police Accountability Report on Facebook or Instagram or @eyesonpolice on Twitter, and of course, you can always message me directly @tayasbaltimore on Twitter and Facebook, and please like and comment. I do read your comments and appreciate them, and we do have a Patreon link pinned in the comments below. So, if you feel inspired to donate, please do. We don’t run ads or take corporate dollars. So, anything you can spare is greatly appreciated. My name is Taya Graham, and I’m your host of the Police Accountability Report. Please be safe out there.

Taya Graham

Host & Producer
Taya Graham is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered U.S. politics, local government, and the criminal justice system. She is the host of TRNN's "Police Accountability Report," and producer and co-creator of the award-winning podcast "Truth and Reconciliation" on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WYPR. She has written extensively for a variety of publications including the Afro American Newspaper, the oldest black-owned publication in the country, and was a frequent contributor to Morgan State Radio at a historic HBCU. She has also produced two documentaries, including the feature-length film "The Friendliest Town." Although her reporting focuses on the criminal justice system and government accountability, she has provided on the ground coverage of presidential primaries and elections as well as local and state campaigns. Follow her on Twitter.

Stephen Janis

Host & Producer
Stephen Janis is an award winning investigative reporter turned documentary filmmaker. His first feature film, The Friendliest Town was distributed by Gravitas Ventures and won an award of distinction from The Impact Doc Film Festival, and a humanitarian award from The Indie Film Fest. He is the co-host and creator of The Police Accountability Report on The Real News Network, which has received more than 10,000,000 views on YouTube. His work as a reporter has been featured on a variety of national shows including the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries, Dead of Night on Investigation Discovery Channel, Relentless on NBC, and Sins of the City on TV One.

He has co-authored several books on policing, corruption, and the root causes of violence including Why Do We Kill: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore and You Can’t Stop Murder: Truths about Policing in Baltimore and Beyond. He is also the co-host of the true crime podcast Land of the Unsolved. Prior to joining The Real News, Janis won three Capital Emmys for investigative series working as an investigative producer for WBFF. Follow him on Twitter.