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Shortly after our story aired on how police put LA resident Daniel Alvarez in handcuffs for a bogus traffic violation, he was pulled over again for allegedly switching lanes without signaling.

In this episode of PAR, we explore the continued use of questionable traffic stops to harass people like Daniel, and what these troubling tactics say about the state of American policing across the country.


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 today we have a breaking development on a story that we told you about just two weeks ago, when we highlighted the case of Daniel Alvarez. Daniel was pulled over by a Los Angeles sheriff under false pretenses, as this video here shows. Well, over the weekend, Daniel was pulled over again, and the video he made of the stop is just as shocking as the first.

But, before I get started, I want you watching to know that if you have evidence of police misconduct, please email it to us privately at, and we might be able to investigate for you. And of course you can always message me directly at @TayasBaltimore on Twitter and Facebook, and please like, share, and comment on our videos. It really does help us. And now we have a Patreon account called Police Accountability Report, so if you have a few dollars to spare, it would really help us keep doing these investigations for you. Investigations that the mainstream media just won’t do. So check for the link pinned in the comments below.

Okay. Now we finally got that out of the way. Now, as you may recall, two weeks ago we reported on this January 2020 traffic stop involving Los Angeles resident, Daniel Alvarez. He was pulled over by a Los Angeles County sheriff, who said he had pulled across a line preceding a stop sign. Not that he’d driven past the stop sign without stopping, mind you. He just didn’t stop far enough away from it. And for this heinous crime, Daniel was put in handcuffs and the passenger of his car was arrested. Let’s watch.


Daniel Alvarez: Cause you want to see what I look like. Be a man and say what you’re stopping me for, then.

Sheriff: I already did. [crosstalk 00:01:49] and everything.

Daniel Alvarez: I didn’t break no law.

Speaker: I’m talking to his mom.

Sheriff: Okay, off the phone.

Speaker: This is ridiculous.

Sheriff: Okay, here.

Speaker: What? Why do I have to-

Sheriff: I’m not stopping your recording or anything.

Speaker: No, you have no reason to get my phone.

Sheriff: I do, all right?

Speaker: We didn’t even do anything.

Sheriff: All right, step out of the vehicle.

Speaker: What is this for?

Sheriff: [inaudible 00:02:06]. Don’t reach for anything.


Taya Graham: We spoke to Daniel about that January 2020 incident, and he told us he had been profiled by the sheriff. And he says he has proof. That’s because unbeknownst to the police, the person with Alvarez recorded the police searching the car. What she captured shows an officer mocking Alvarez, and even using an expletive to describe him. Let’s listen.


Sheriff: Law abiding citizens. Fuck that guy.


Taya Graham: The sheriff’s office actually arrested Alvarez’s passenger for recording them. Or, as they argue, interfering with an arrest. She was out to celebrate her birthday with Alvarez and instead spent the night in jail. But now there’s been a new development in Daniel’s story that not only proves his point about profiling, but reveals in a single video the true imperative of law enforcement in this country. That’s because over the weekend, as Daniel and his friend were traveling to San Bernardino, California, to visit a state park, he was pulled over again–this time for an illegal lane change. I’m not kidding. A man who has been harassed by police before was again forced to confront the threat of yet another bogus arrest, simply because cops had decided he was worth pulling over. Let’s watch what happened.


Officer: I just stopped you, because you cut that car off.

Daniel Alvarez: No, I didn’t.

Officer: Yeah, you did.

Daniel Alvarez: Signaled and…

Officer: You have your ID on you?

Daniel Alvarez: Made a lane change.

Officer: Can I see your ID, too, sir?

Speaker: Oh, no, sir.

Officer: What’s that?

Speaker: No, sir.

Daniel Alvarez: It seems to me that you’ve seen me go by the stoplight…

Officer: Ma’am, I need your ID, too.

Daniel Alvarez: And you stopped me just because you’ve seen what I look like.

Officer: [crosstalk 00:03:45].

Speaker: The locals even mentioned it, too. The ones following us.

Officer: Are you on probation or parole?

Daniel Alvarez: Nope.

Officer: Are you on probation or parole?

Speaker: No.

Daniel Alvarez: No, he’s not.

Officer: Are you on-

Speaker: No.

Officer: Probation or parole? Okay, and you guys are refusing to give me your IDs, right?

Daniel Alvarez: I thought that they didn’t have to give you their ID if you just stopped me for traffic violation.

Officer: Well, I’m requesting it. So are you going to give it to me or not?

Daniel Alvarez: Can you call your lieutenant or sergeant here?

Officer: I’m the sergeant.

Daniel Alvarez: Okay, can you call your superior here?

Officer: No, he’s not working, I’m the top rank right now.

Daniel Alvarez: So [crosstalk 00:04:11]…

Officer: Are you going to give me your IDs or are we going to go through all this?

Daniel Alvarez: You have my ID and I was driving.

Officer: I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to her, and you.


Taya Graham: So it’s interesting to note that the police officer not only immediately asked for ID from all of the passengers, but also asked if any of them are on parole or probation. Let’s listen.


Officer: Are you on probation or parole?

Daniel Alvarez: Nope.

Officer: Are you on probation or parole?

Speaker: No.

Daniel Alvarez: No, he’s not.

Officer: Are you on-

Speaker: No.

Officer: Probation or parole? Okay, and you guys are refusing to give me your IDs, right?


Taya Graham: And the situation becomes tense when a passenger in the car refuses to comply with the officer’s request for identification. As you can see, the officer threatens the passenger with arrest, but he refuses to back down. Let’s watch.


Officer: Okay, and you guys are refusing to give me your IDs, right?

Daniel Alvarez: I thought that they didn’t have to give you their ID if you just stopped me for traffic violation.

Officer: Well, I’m requesting it. So are you going to give it to me or not?

Daniel Alvarez: Can you call your lieutenant or sergeant here?

Officer: Because I’m telling you to.

Speaker: I’m not getting out of the vehicle. I am obligated to nothing for you.

Officer: You are, I promise you.

Speaker: I’m not.

Daniel Alvarez: Rick.

Officer: I’m not walking back to my car without you…

Daniel Alvarez: Give him your ID.

Officer: Coming out of the car.

Daniel Alvarez: So we can get on our way.

Speaker: I’m not giving you nothing.

Daniel Alvarez: Rick, listen to me. Give him the fucking ID.

Speaker: Yo!

Speaker: No. Violate my rights, [crosstalk 00:05:23]. I’m not driving, I got nothing to do with this stop. He’s obligated, not me.

Officer: Sir.

Speaker: Sir, what? Do not touch me.

Speaker: Don’t touch him.

Officer: I promise you.

Speaker: First of all, do not touch me.

Officer: If I’m telling you to get out, you need to get out.

Speaker: I promise you, no, I do not.

Speaker: No, you grabbing my door and opening it.

Speaker: Yeah, you do not need to open that door, you don’t need to touch that door.

Officer: Sir, you’d be placed under arrest, right now, just for-

Daniel Alvarez: For what, though?

Speaker: For what?

Speaker: Do it.

Officer: Okay, step on out. Put your hands behind your back.

Speaker: For what?

Speaker: Do it. Put the cuffs on.

Officer: Put your hands behind your back.

Speaker: Yeah, what am I under arrest for?

Daniel Alvarez: Rick, listen to me. Give him your ID so we can leave.

Speaker: Give it to him.

Speaker: No, fuck this [crosstalk 00:05:49].

Daniel Alvarez: Give him your ID, so we can leave. Listen to me.

Speaker: No, he’s not going to violate my rights. Call your boss, call the Chief, call the Captain.

Daniel Alvarez: We already know how to deal with this.

Speaker: Yeah, we do.


Taya Graham: Now, before we talk to Daniel about his latest encounter with law enforcement and why he can’t seem to drive anywhere unfettered by cops, my reporting partner, Stephen Janis, has been trying to contact the San Bernardino police and get comments from them on the stop. Stephen, thank you for joining me.

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

Taya Graham: So first, you have sent the video to San Bernardino police and asked for comment, what have they said and how did they justify the stop? And we’ve identified the officer, right?

Stephen Janis: Yes. So the Sergeant Abernathy is the officer you can see in the video. I sent an email to them, asking them several questions. One is, is it normal procedure for an officer to ask people if they’re on probation or parole? I wanted to get a distinctive description of why the stop was made, and what was the probable cause for asking for people for their ID? They got back to me and said they were reviewing the video and had sent it to the precinct where this stop occurred. But since then they have gone completely silent. I’m not sure how to interpret that. I will re-follow up with them again, but for now, they’re not talking.

Taya Graham: Now, once again, we are confronted with this idea that police can ask for the ID of the passenger in the car. What is the law? And what are our rights in this situation?

Stephen Janis: Well, California does not have a producer ID law. In other words, there’s no law that says that if police just walk up to you on the street and say, “I need your ID,” there’s no law that says you have to produce it. If you’re a driver, you do have to identify yourself. But the two passengers in the car, because the officer didn’t have probable cause, or wasn’t investigating a crime, didn’t have the right to ask for ID, and they had the right to refuse. So this really needs to be settled, because police don’t seem to understand the law, here. And it’s pretty clear in California and throughout the rest of the country.

Taya Graham: One interesting link between both stops is the fact that the officer asked all the passengers in the car if they were on parole or probation. What do you think the significance of this question is? And do you think it’s a police policy?

Stephen Janis: It’s significant because it talks about a concept that you’ll be talking about later called ‘blanket criminality,’ and the fact that you’re taking a community of people and saying, well, you must all be under probation and parole, it’s an incredible thing, when you think about it. The idea that just someone being in a car is subject to that question because of the way they look, which I think we have to assume that’s what it was about. So this is really a tip that what this cop is doing, is not stopping people to enforce traffic laws, but to enforce social boundaries.

Taya Graham: And now, to get his reaction to yet another troubling car stop, I’m joined by Daniel Alvarez, himself. Daniel, thank you so much for joining me.

Daniel Alvarez: Absolutely, thank you.

Taya Graham: So first, please, just describe to us the moments leading up to the stop. What did the officer do?

Daniel Alvarez: So we were driving, and the weather up there was really nice, so all the windows were down. And the intersections are real small, so as I pass through the intersection, he could see what I looked like. As soon as he’d seen me, I seen him start rolling through the red light to come after me. So I knew right away, I said, oh, he’s going to come after me. So he basically ran the red light, cut everybody off and then drove down the center of the road to catch up behind me. And then cut everybody off, got behind me, followed me for maybe 200 feet, and then turned his lights on.

Taya Graham: And what did the officer say to you? At first he said you didn’t use your blinker, but later, on the video he admits on camera, he saw you use your blinker. What is he saying, here?

Daniel Alvarez: He kept changing the reasoning. First, he said that I didn’t use a blinker. Then he said that I was tailgating. Then he said I had something hanging from the rear view mirror. So I just kind of highlighted to him exactly what happened. As soon as I went through the intersection, I literally seen him turning, cause the intersection’s small. So he literally was turning his head, watching me go by. And then he started running his red light to chase after me. So he was going to pull me over, no matter what. Based on the fact that he’s seen what I looked like.

Taya Graham: Now, I’ve had a few people ask, what do your tattoos mean to you? Do you feel people profile you because of your tattoos? So basically what would you say to them, if they judge you because of them? How would you explain it to them, so they understand you?

Daniel Alvarez: So I think the tattoos, and then being Hispanic, right away, people automatically assume, oh, you’re a gang member, or you’re a hoodlum. These tattoos are from when I was a young kid. I think I had them all before I was in my early twenties. But as young as 16, I started having them on my face. So, the lifestyle that I live today is very calm and peaceful. I work full time, I’m very involved with my family. I try to be as helpful to anybody, and anything as I possibly can. I’m not out, breaking the law and I do everything legit-ly. It doesn’t even bother me when they pull me over, cause I understand, oh, hey, he looks crazy. Let’s stop him. That’s fine. I can accept that part.

Where I start having trouble, is when they run my ID, they search my car, they find nothing. Yet, how easy it is for them to still proceed to lie and write tickets that they know did not happen. That’s the part that scares me. I can accept the part that you drove by me, you seen what I look like, hey, let me turn around, let me see who this guy is. Maybe he’s got dope and a gun. But you search my car, you run my ID, you see that I haven’t been in trouble. Nothing comes up on your computer. Yet, you still will falsely write tickets that you know, are not true based on just that you’re mad.

And what really scared me with this guy, was that he was a sergeant. When I realized he was a sergeant, it really scared me because I’m like, this guy is supposed to be on another level of professionalism to where he can separate profiling, somebody realizing you have nothing and then saying, okay, you have nothing. Get out of here. Yet, he’s still lied and wrote me three tickets that were not lawful. And then he threatened both my passengers that they’d go to jail if they didn’t provide IDs, which they had nothing to do with anything.

Taya Graham: I would also like to know how your other passenger was doing. I think his name was Ricky. He stood on his right not to show ID unless suspected of a crime. What happened to him, and how does he feel about what happened?

Daniel Alvarez: My brother has experienced this with me because we’re very close. So he’s experienced this constantly with me, cause he’s usually… My family experiences all these same things that I go through. They experienced them too, because they’re right there, involved also. So they get a little bit angry when… And my brother got mad because he’s seen exactly what the cop and my girlfriend, too. She was like, “Hey, this guy, he looked, raced out behind, cut everybody off, chased us down.” There was a lady that was driving next to us. He pulled up next to us, cause it was pretty much, bumper to bumper cause everybody’s going to the lake. And she said, “Hey, that cop, he ran a red light, cut everybody off to chase you down. He’s really interested in you.”

And in the video, you can hear me telling her, “Yeah, it’s because of the way I look. He’s seen what I look like.” And she said, “Oh, I think you look great. We welcome you to our town.” And right after, that’s when he stopped us. So, my girlfriend, she’s very angry, like, “Why did you stop us? We really didn’t do anything.” My brother, even, just like, “I’m not giving you nothing.” And I get worried with them because we see it time and time again, that really… I’m surprised that he didn’t go farther than it did go because really they do whatever they want. We see it over and over and over, and what I’ve learned now is I start recording them right away.

When I see him start running that light is when I turned my phone on and put it in the console. Cause I knew he was going to run the light, chase me down. I knew as I was passing him and he started rolling through the light, I said, he’s going to chase me down, and pull me over, no matter what. And I’ve learned to do that today, because it keeps him a little bit more accountable, but still, they don’t really care about the phone. It just depends on how they feel that day, is how far they’ll go. And that’s the part that scares me.

Taya Graham: You know, it’s interesting. One of the first things the officer says to you are, “Are you on probation or parole?” What does that tell you? What does that say to you, that it is the first thing you hear when a cop talks to you?

Daniel Alvarez: I hear that every time I’m stopped, every single time I’m stopped, that’s the first thing that comes out of their mouth. And I usually kind of laugh because right away I’m like, you think cause I’m Mexican and I got tattoos on my face that you think I’m on parole? No, I’m not. Here’s my ID. A lot of times, it ends at that. They run my name, they search my car, and then they go, “Okay, get out of here.” But this guy, he was for sure that I was on parole or somebody was on parole in my car, based on the way that I look.

Taya Graham: It looks to us like the officer brandished the handcuffs after he asked for ID. Can you share with us what you witnessed?

Daniel Alvarez: He actually opened up the back door, and then reached in and touched the back passenger on the shoulder. And that’s when you could hear him saying, “Hey, don’t touch me. Don’t touch me.” And then he basically pulled out the handcuffs and is like, “Give me your ID or you’re going to go to jail.” He’s threatening and intimidating to get his way, and of course, anybody that’s scared of going to jail is going to do whatever they want. But unfortunately, my brother isn’t really fearful of them that much, so he can kind of push back. He wasn’t going to let him make him scared of the set of handcuffs. You can also see that the guy, he’s saying that they had to give up IDs. And he tells him, at one point, that they’ll both be arrested, but then he puts the handcuffs away, walks away. And then, we end up leaving without the back passenger ever providing an ID.

Taya Graham: I know you told the officer you were going to visit a park. Can you talk about what it’s like to be accosted when you’re out, just trying to get some fresh air and do something healthy?

Daniel Alvarez: That was actually my first time going there. A whole bunch of my friends went, and then some of my family went, or they rented a house on the lake, and that’s Big Bear Lake, California. So I was like, hey, let’s go. We drove up there, the weather up there was so nice. So I put all the windows down in the car so everybody could see, and that’s exactly like… I had just told my brother and her, maybe two minutes before this, I said, man, I don’t like driving anybody else’s car because my vehicle now has cameras all the way around, facing each direction. And so I said, I don’t like driving anybody else’s car because nothing’s ever under… And literally two minutes later, that happened. I was like, oh, man.

Taya Graham: So how much was the fine for the ticket he wrote you and how much is this costing you?

Daniel Alvarez: I’m not sure, but I think they’re about $400 each, but I have no intentions of paying them. This time I’ll definitely get a lawyer and take it to court because they weren’t real, factual things. In the video, I told him, you were saying that I broke the law, but you literally ran a red light, cut off 12 cars, twice, to try to get behind me. And that’s why I don’t understand why he was angry and still wrote me the ticket. It’s like he was angry that I wasn’t on parole, he was angry that I didn’t have a warrant. He was angry that he didn’t get to take me out of the car, take me to jail. And that’s why it’s really scary that a sergeant will falsely unlawfully write a ticket that didn’t really happen.

Taya Graham: This is one of the multiple times you’ve been pulled over. You have faced retaliation from the LA Sheriff, and now this. How is this affecting you emotionally and psychologically? How are you getting through this?

Daniel Alvarez: Honestly, I feel like a lot of times I have to hide from them. Even though I don’t do anything wrong, I’m licensed, everything, completely legit. But I feel like I have to hide from them just based on that fact, what I look like, that they’re going to interfere with my life, hold me there for a numerous amount of time. They never end up finding anything, cause I’m not doing wrong. And yet they’ll still try to put something in my life to make some trouble. It’s very stressful.

I’ve learned to speak about it, speak back to them. They don’t like when you talk back. It’s, “Hey, shut up. Do what I tell you to do.” And I don’t necessarily lay down so much to them, but for the person that maybe is fearful of them, they victimize people all day long. And it’s scary that they don’t have accountability, to where they’re held accountable. Like this guy, he’s the sergeant. He should have been teaching that other officer that was there how to do the stop, how to do all that. Yet, it seemed like the other guy was a little bit more…

I even asked the other guy, I asked him, hey, this guy stopped me for this, which is a lie. It’s not really true. And he was like, “Well, it’s his stop.” And I said, okay, so if he’s breaking the law, you’ll follow with him too?. You’ll break the law with him? Or you’ll stand up and say, no, just because somebody else is breaking a law, doesn’t mean I’m going to break it with them. I may tell them, come on, what you’re doing is not right. Stop. Get over it, let them go.

Taya Graham: As you can see from this video, and Daniel’s previous encounter with police, law enforcement is not the purveyor of public safety as it often touts as its primary goal. Instead, what we see here is an example of several concepts we’ve talked about quite often on this show, but I think are more relevant now than ever.

The first is social boundary policing. As we see in Daniel’s case, and many others, police in many of these small cities are simply social boundary warriors. Paid henchman who patrol and surveil based on preconceived notions, elicited from someone’s appearance. As you can see in Daniel’s case, the officer was not just enforcing social boundaries through bold fabrications of the law, he was also monetizing it. Not only have you sent a message to Daniel and his friend that they are subject to capricious application of traffic laws, but you’ve also turned them into human profit centers. Vulnerable citizens who can be milked for cash, simply based upon the power and the bias of a single cop’s interpretation of trivial traffic violations.

The second principle at work is something we call blanket criminality. It’s an idea that law enforcement is actually a tool of political hegemony, and achieves this by stripping a community of its social agency through the power of criminalizing otherwise normal behavior. It results in a broad conception of a set of people, be it a race or a class, presumed guilty.

It’s a bias that’s reinforced with media depictions of working class people and, to put it frankly, people who are not white, as inherently and intrinsically prone to criminality. What’s really stunning about this concept is how often we have encountered them in our reporting. Let’s remember last week we reported on the predicament of Michelle Lucas, who was forced to plead guilty for passing counterfeit money. Her charges were dropped after our reporting, but her suffering was acute. Or consider the violent arrest of Lutfi Salim, captured on this body camera footage, a cab driver who was pulled from his car and almost immediately tasered by a police officer over, wait for it, parking in a no parking zone.

In all these cases, innocent acts were presumed as grievous crimes. And in each case, unremarkable behavior was met with force or the threat of imprisonment. The point I’m trying to make, here, is that all of this mayhem, all of this chaos sewn into the lives of people like Daniel, is purposeful. All of the laughable applications of the law and intense scrutiny focused on people like him function as part of a larger system that fuels our divide-and-conquer system of casino capitalism.

All the phony stops, and the changing lanes BS, is not just cops playing God and enforcing their personal biases, it’s also part of an overarching political economy where policing provides the muscle for enforcing social and political inequality for the benefit of the few.

So, just remember when Sergeant Abernathy, seen here, pulls someone over, who’s minding their own damn business, there’s a reason beyond pure harassment. When this law enforcement officer decides to apply the law in ways that are not just unfair, but absurd, there’s an underlying imperative that drives it. He is, in a sense, the tip of the spear, so to speak, of a system that has forgotten the humanity of the people it’s supposed to serve, turning them into profit centers instead of human beings with rights. Well, rest assured, we have not forgotten the value of anyone’s humanity, and we’ll continue to report to remind the powers that be that we should not, and will not, forget. I would like to thank my guest, Daniel Alvarez, for returning to speak with us about his experience with the criminal justice system. Thank you.

And of course I have to thank intrepid journalist Stephen Janis for his writing, research, editing, and reporting on this piece. Thank you, Stephen.

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

Taya Graham: And I would be remiss if I did not thank friend of the show, Noli Dee, for her support. Thanks, Noli Dee. And I also have to thank our new patrons. I really appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you so much. 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 and share your evidence of police misconduct. You can also message us at @PoliceAccountabilityReport on Facebook and Instagram, or at @EyesOnPolice on Twitter. And of course you can always message me directly at @TayasBaltimore on Twitter and Facebook.

And please like and comment. You know I read your comments and appreciate them, and I try to answer your questions whenever I can. And if you want to help us continue to help our viewers, please consider donating to our Police Accountability Report Patreon, pinned in the comment section below. I promise there will be a few fun surprises there. My name is Taya Graham, and I’m your host of the Police Accountability Report. Please, be safe out there.

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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.