Daniel Alvarez first appeared on the Police Accountability Report in June, 2021 after an LA sheriff put him in handcuffs for stopping at a stop sign. Since then, Alvarez has documented numerous instances of LASD officers continuing to target and harass him. Alvarez has been arrested eight times since his first encounter with LASD—always on charges that have later been dismissed due to lack of evidence. Officers have used everything from broken taillights to false DUI allegations as a pretext for continuing their harassment campaign against Alvarez. Daniel Alvarez returns to the Police Accountability Report to share how LASD officers have tormented him in the past years.
Studio: Stephen Janis
Post-Production: Stephen Janis, Adam Coley
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. 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 showing how police retaliate against people that speak out against them. It is an update on the harassment endured by a previous guest, whose illegal arrest garnered three million views. But since then, he has been subject to random stops by those same officers, which led to his jailing on false charges. It’s an example of the aforementioned system run amok.
Before we get started, I want you watching to know that if you have video evidence of police misconduct, please email it to us privately at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please like, share, and comment on our videos. You know I read your comments and that I appreciate them. And we do have a Patreon, Accountability Reports, 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 truly appreciated. All right, we’ve gotten that out of the way.
Now, one of the reasons we always start this show by citing the so-called system that makes bad policing possible is due to what we have learned from reporting on it. What I mean is that our coverage of policing continues to reveal that the extraordinary powers we bestow on police extend well beyond the limits of a simple arrest.
Case in point is the case I will be unpacking for you today, it involves a guest that we have had on the show before, but it’s also an example of how standing up for your rights against law enforcement comes with a cost, which is sometimes very steep. That’s because since we originally aired our piece on the illegal arrest of Daniel Alvarez, things have turned dicey, to say the least, for this Los Angeles County resident. In fact, since our last report, Daniel has said he’s been pulled over at least half a dozen times for trivial issues like taillights and false DUI allegations, an ongoing process of harassment that he says is designed solely to intimidate him, retaliation in the video we are showing you now, and which we will explain in depth later.
Now as you might recall, in August of 2021, we reported on how Daniel was pulled over – Now wait for it – For not stopping far enough back from a stop sign. I’m not kidding, but the officer uses that pretext to pull Daniel out of his car and put him in handcuffs. Let’s watch.
[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]
Daniel Alvarez: No, you didn’t. What are you stopping me for?
Police Officer 1: You’re more than welcome to record, but I saw you –
Daniel Alvarez: You’ve seen me at my house, get in the car, and then you turned around and chased me down, I didn’t break any laws.
Police Officer 1: Okay, but I’m telling you, you did. If I want to write you a ticket for that, and then you want to record me in the middle of it –
Daniel Alvarez: I didn’t stop over nothing, I stopped at the stop sign, turned the left.
Police Officer 1: Do you have ID?
Daniel Alvarez: Huh?
Police Officer 1: Do you have ID?
Daniel Alvarez: Yeah, I have an ID.
Police Officer 1: Okay, where’s your ID at?
Daniel Alvarez: For what? What are you stopping me for?
Police Officer 1: I’m stopping you for –
Daniel Alvarez: No, you’re stopping me ’cause you’ve seen what I look like.
Police Officer 1: All right, don’t reach for anything.
Daniel Alvarez: You want my ID, right?
Police Officer 1: But did I tell you to reach for it? I asked you if you had ID –
Daniel Alvarez: You want my ID, that’s what you’re asking for, right?
Police Officer 1: …So now you have the ID –
Daniel Alvarez: You can put your gun away.
Police Officer 1: Okay, step out of the vehicle.
Female Passenger: That’s annoying.
Daniel Alvarez: You’re stopping me ’cause you wanted to see what I looked like. Be a man and say what you’re stopping me for then, don’t be petty.
Police Officer 1: I already did, [inaudible] –
Daniel Alvarez: I didn’t break no law.
Police Officer 1: …And everything. All right.
[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]
Taya Graham: What was really revealing about this arrest is how police behaved on camera when they thought no one was watching. That’s because a phone belonging to Daniel’s passenger was still recording while police searched his vehicle. And what they said showed just what Daniel’s arrest was about. Take a listen.
[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]
Police Officer 1: He said, we’re law abiding citizens.
Police Officer 2: Fuck that guy.
Taya Graham: After we published the story, it went viral, garnering more than three million views, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and surrounding jurisdictions were not done with Daniel, not hardly. Since then, they have continued to pull him over and harass him. Occasionally these pretextual stops led to more false arrests, like this car stop when police actually accused Daniel of being drunk.
[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]
Police Officer 3: [inaudible] I don’t want to take him to jail if he’s not, but he has enough, [inaudible] what he’s displaying, just based on my opinion, to take him to jail.
Speaker 1: What are you saying?
Police Officer 3: Because of the way he’s acting.
Speaker 1: You know what I mean? [crosstalk] But he is sober, I just want you to know or think in your heart or your mind is, he is, [inaudible] he is.
Police Officer 3: I never turned my car around.
Speaker 1: I don’t know what was up with his driving, but he just pulled out of my work, my work is right there by the bowling alley. That’s where I work, so he just had pulled out. I don’t know, maybe he was hop, skipping, and jumping to get home quick. I mean I can’t say why he was driving like that, but no, [crosstalk] we couldn’t put up with him if he was using.
Police Officer 3: Honestly, it could’ve been that he was driving on his phone, and he started to lane stop.
Speaker 1: Maybe, maybe.
Police Officer 3: It could’ve been a lot of things, but I don’t know that [inaudible] –
Speaker 1: Okay, okay.
[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]
Taya Graham: Now, even though Daniel had not been drinking, even though he passed all the field sobriety tests, police didn’t care. In fact, they refused to give him a breathalyzer, as he himself requested. Take a look.
[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]
Police Officer 3: [inaudible] requesting a blood test, but if that’s the route we’re going to go, then I’m going to place you under arrest. [inaudible] Because based on what I’ve done already, the tests that you’ve allowed me to do [inaudible], I have enough to take him to jail.
[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]
Taya Graham: This encounter, one of eight separate incidents, led to Daniel spending over 48 hours in jail because he refused to pay a bail bondsman. And of course when his blood test came back all negative, all the charges were dropped.
That’s not the only video of a fraught encounter with Los Angeles County sheriffs that Daniel has had to endure since his video went viral. That’s because just six months ago, Daniel was pulled over again, this time for a missing front license plate. What happens during the stop is perhaps illustrative of Daniel’s frustration with the never-ending interactions with police. Take a look.
[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]
Speaker 3: [inaudible] Yeah.
Speaker 2: It’s all on video camera though.
Speaker 3: Oh, really?
Police Officer 4: Yeah, the whole search.
Speaker 3: Why didn’t they want to let it go?
Police Officer 4: What do you mean?
Speaker 3: They didn’t want to release it.
Police Officer 4: Well, they don’t release it right away like that, that’s not how it works.
Speaker 3: What do you mean, you’ve got to cover something up or hide something?
Daniel Alvarez: That’s right, I have a lawyer that’s in the process of dealing with it.
Police Officer 4: You can’t change it, [crosstalk].
Speaker 3: Oh, really? That’s bullshit.
Daniel Alvarez: Don’t even talk about it.
Police Officer 4: Not like what everybody thinks. Are you in our system?
Speaker 3: You paced me when –
Police Officer 4: [inaudible] –
Speaker 3: No, no, no, no, look, California law –
Daniel Alvarez: California law doesn’t hold up with pace.
Speaker 3: Yeah.
Police Officer 4: Did I cut you off?
Speaker 3: That’s what I’m telling you, you cut someone off to jump right behind me, because he already has –
Police Officer 4: I’m not going to argue with you here, okay?
Speaker 3: No, he already has-
Police Officer 4: You don’t have a [crosstalk] –
Daniel Alvarez: We’re going to do this again? Just hold that-
Speaker 3: You couldn’t have seen that, so that’s secondary.
Police Officer 4: When you came [crosstalk] –
Daniel Alvarez: Yeah, but you already know that I don’t do anything, so we’re going to do this whole thing again.
Speaker 3: No, no, no, I wasn’t going –
Police Officer 4: I saw it, [crosstalk].
Daniel Alvarez: What’s the easiest way out of this, this situation with you?
Speaker 3: I was never, I was… No.
Daniel Alvarez: [inaudible] What is the easiest way for us to just [crosstalk] let you guys be happy and get on our way?
Police Officer 4: I think [inaudible] right now.
Speaker 3: I’ve got some shorts on, so I’ve got to come to pick up my son.
Daniel Alvarez: What do we need to do? [crosstalk] I’m asking, you’re the sergeant, right?
Police Officer 4: Typically what they do –
Speaker 3: No, I’m here right now.
Police Officer 4: …Is they identify themselves, make sure they have a valid license, and usually they’re on their way.
Daniel Alvarez: Okay, show them your license, and we can be on our way.
Speaker 3: No, yeah, here’s my registration and all that, sir, there you go.
Daniel Alvarez: California law, you can’t pace somebody, it won’t stick up in court.
Police Officer 4: Here you go.
Speaker 3: I do want [inaudible] –
Daniel Alvarez: That’s my mom right there, you should remember her car, right?
Police Officer 4: Huh?
Daniel Alvarez: That’s her car, you remember it?
Police Officer 4: No, I don’t remember.
Daniel Alvarez: That’s the car that you stopped.
Police Officer 4: Oh, that you were driving?
Daniel Alvarez: Yeah.
Speaker 3: [inaudible].
Police Officer 4: Yes, sir, the deal.
Speaker 2: Give me one second, okay?
Speaker 3: You can run it right here, I ain’t got no worries.
Police Officer 4: [crosstalk] all that in court, whether or not [inaudible] –
Daniel Alvarez: But what are you even arguing for?
Police Officer 4: What do you mean?
Speaker 3: We’ll put this up, buddy.
Daniel Alvarez: We just passed you guys, I mean come on, we’re not stupid, we’ve been around a while, you’ve been around a while, right?
Speaker 3: Yeah.
Daniel Alvarez: You stopped us ’cause you see what we look like, three guys in a car, let’s stop him.
Speaker 2: No, that’s wrong.
Daniel Alvarez: How can you pace him?
Police Officer 4: [inaudible] doesn’t have a front plate.
Speaker 2: You’re going to roll up the window on me?
Police Officer 4: Whether or not that front plate is supposed to be on there –
Speaker 3: Yeah, I rolled the window up. What’s wrong with that, Davenport?
Speaker 2: There’s nothing wrong with that.
Speaker 3: It’s my window.
Police Officer 4: There’s multiple things that you [crosstalk] –
Speaker 2: I’m just saying, just for our safety.
Police Officer 4: …You know what I mean?
Daniel Alvarez: The license plate, you’re right, because –
Speaker 3: Your safety –
Daniel Alvarez: …We moved the truck and it fell off, so it’s actually in the backseat.
Speaker 3: Officer safety is cowardice.
Speaker 2: [inaudible] Is that what it is?
Speaker 3: It’s cowardice, yeah, public safety is heroism.
Police Officer 4: Like I told you last time, bro, like [inaudible] –
Daniel Alvarez: Last time you were a dick.
Speaker 3: Nah, my safety is none of your concern.
Police Officer 4: …Contrary to what you say, nothing’s personal.
Daniel Alvarez: Last time [crosstalk] you were a dick, you came with a gun.
Police Officer 4: That’s not what I’m saying.
Daniel Alvarez: You came with a gun!
Speaker 12: Because I couldn’t see [inaudible], dude.
Daniel Alvarez: Come on –
Speaker 3: [crosstalk] have to worry about my safety.
Daniel Alvarez: You’re so full of shit. [crosstalk] Even when I tried to be cool with you and said, okay, here, I’m not doing nothing, you still were a dick.
Speaker 2: [crosstalk] you’re not doing anything.
Police Officer 4: [crosstalk] talk to you like that-
Daniel Alvarez: All the way to the end, you were a dick.
Police Officer 4: I wanted to talk to you, and you were cussing at me –
Speaker 2: What’s that? [crosstalk]
Police Officer 4: …And everything else, it was wild.
Daniel Alvarez: I said, if you’re not –
Police Officer 4: [inaudible] traffic violation.
Daniel Alvarez: Yeah.
Speaker 3: I’m sure you did.
Daniel Alvarez: No matter how [crosstalk] many times you stop me, you’ll never catch me doing anything ’cause I don’t do anything like that.
Speaker 13: I’m not mad about anything.
Daniel Alvarez: You’ll end up getting tired of fucking with me. [crosstalk] You waste your time with me while everybody else is running around doing something else.
Speaker 13: Just like I would be arrested if I was involved in a robbery or if I was –
Daniel Alvarez: [inaudible] I didn’t even see you, why would I put my window up?
Speaker 13: …[inaudible] in a robbery.
Daniel Alvarez: I get that, but my interaction with you last time –
Police Officer 4: [inaudible] in your vehicle.
Daniel Alvarez: …So actually, you can look me up on Facebook, so I do a lot of stuff back with the community, right? [inaudible] Doesn’t matter what I’ve ever done in my past, but I do a lot of stuff with the community, with RX Perry, so you can look and you can search me at any time and anything, we don’t do anything illegal, all right? We may look the part, let’s search him. And most of the time I don’t trip, it’s just the point of the approach, right?
Police Officer 4: [inaudible] I tried to tell you last time, like, hey bro, this is why my approach was like that, before.
Speaker 13: Was he talking to you?
Speaker 12: No.
Speaker 13: Okay, cool.
Daniel Alvarez: [inaudible] But last time I’d seen you guys at the lights from that way, and you guys flipped at the light.
Speaker 13: …It says you’re –
Speaker 12: For what?
Daniel Alvarez: I get it, right? I’m not dumb, [inaudible] I see somebody –
Speaker 12: He was, yeah, like 10 years ago.
Daniel Alvarez: …Let’s check him, all right, I get it, but at what point –
Police Officer 4: [inaudible] I apologize if it came off sideways –
Speaker 2: …During the course of being in prison or something like that?
Police Officer 4: …At all, that wasn’t my intention at all.
[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]
Taya Graham: Now it is worth noting that even though Daniel had not done anything illegal, the officer wrote him several tickets, citations that he added to an expansive collection of traffic fines Daniel has shared with us, which we are showing you on the screen now. To find out how this never-ending series of engagements with cops in LA have affected his life, his livelihood, and his overall state of mind, I will be talking with Daniel shortly. But first, I’m joined by my reporting partner, Stephen Janis, who’s been looking into the case and reaching out to police. Stephen, thank you so much for joining me.
Stephen Janis: Taya, thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
Taya Graham: Now, Stephen, you’ve been reaching out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at Lancaster Station for comment, what have they told you?
Stephen Janis: Well, a big bunch of nothing. Because they don’t really answer their calls. We’ve had some pretty interesting phone chains where we’ve tried to call people, they picked up the phone and they kind of go mute when they realize it’s a reporter on the other line. It’s been not fruitful, but obviously we’ve had an impact, and we’ll talk about that later.
Taya Graham: Daniel has filed several complaints, and you have followed up with those. What have you learned?
Stephen Janis: What I’ve learned is that it’s a system that’s meant to not respond to complaints. It’s a system that’s meant to obfuscate, it’s a system that doesn’t have a lot of transparency. I mean, there’s no real online process for how these complaints are processed or what’s really due to the person who has filed them. We have put in a lot of calls with a lot of different commanders who are in these units and we’ve not heard back, but we will continue to follow up on that.
Taya Graham: Now, someone has actually reached out to us about our reporting and perhaps helping Daniel, but it wasn’t law enforcement, per se. Can you talk about it?
Stephen Janis: Yeah. Taya, so what happened is that the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, their police accountability unit reached out to us, and they didn’t just reach out to us to ask us for information, they specifically wanted the video we did of –
Taya Graham: Just wait a second. You’re saying that the Los Angeles public defender’s office wants to use our reporting to help discredit corrupt cops in court?
Stephen Janis: Yeah, that’s right, actually yes, that is right. The Los Angeles County public defender’s office police accountability unit wants our video to actually show in court to actually help discredit police officers who have lied in the past in cases similar to Daniel’s. So it’s really a big sign of what independent journalism can do. I think it’s significant for this unit to be using our material and our reporting, and it shows why our reporting is important, why followup is important, why it’s important to tell stories like Daniel’s, and why it’s just important to have these kind of videos online where people can access them, and not part of the mainstream media whatever.
Taya Graham: Wow. Stephen, if that’s not an example of us helping to hold police accountable, I don’t know what is. Now to get more on what is being done to help people facing corrupt cops in Los Angeles and how this has affected his life, I’m joined by the man whose arrest started this chain of events, Daniel Alvarez. Daniel, thank you so much for joining me.
Daniel Alvarez: Thank you for having me.
Taya Graham: Daniel, how did this DUI traffic stop begin?
Daniel Alvarez: A retaliation situation from the first one. After the first video had happened, basically all of those guys that were associated with that same sheriff, [Tarris Hanner], they would come by my house. They already knew my vehicles, they knew what I looked like, so anytime they’d see me, they would all just come, pull me over. That day I was at my mom’s work, and when I was leaving her work, I noticed there were probably three or four cars sitting across the street. I thought, that’s weird, what are they doing? There’s not even nothing right there. I got in my car, I went to pull out, as soon as I pulled out, they all took off behind me and turned their lights on.
I’m like, oh, it makes sense now, they were waiting for me. I drove a little bit, I kind of slowed down but I drove to a store where I felt like there was cameras, there was people. I knew, I said, I’m going to drive down here where there’s more people, and I’m going to stop right there. I went slow, I made sure that they didn’t think that I was running from them, and I drove just a very short distance to this gas station, and I pulled into the gas station, put the car in park. I always try to get my camera right away, but this time they came super aggressive, guns out, pointed at me, so I wasn’t going to reach down, I’m like, no way.
They came up to the car right away, called my name, get out of the car, I said, oh, you already know my name. I recognized like four of them from the other stop, so I said, oh, you guys are mad because I made a complaint on your buddy? I get it, I know what you guys are doing. Just all these excuses. Pulled me out with a gun, handcuffed me, put me in the car. Somebody driving by had recognized my car, so they called my sister. Hey, your brother’s just right here, bunch of cops got your brother. My sister comes over there, by that time there’s already probably maybe 10 or 12 of them there. They searched my car, all this whole thing. He says, well, I think you’re drunk, and I said, oh, okay, all right, we can do whatever you want to do.
Taya Graham: Wait, did the officer give you a breathalyzer or blood test so you could prove your sobriety?
Daniel Alvarez: We did a whole bunch of tests, maybe for like half an hour probably, they had me do tests, I kept passing them ’cause I wasn’t under the influence. He said, all right, well I think that you’re under the influence of drugs, and I said okay, so he said, I’m going to take you to jail, impound your car. And I said, all right, I get what they’re doing. He wouldn’t do the breathalyzer ’cause he knew that I basically passed all the tests for the alcohol, so that’s when he said, I think you’re under the influence of drugs. I said okay, take me straight to the jail. And then I said, oh, so at what point do we do any kind of tests or anything? He was like, oh, no tests, no tests.
I had called my sister when I got the phone call, and I said, hey, they brought me to jail, so then they pulled me out of the cell, took me to the hospital to go have blood drawn. At first I said, no, I don’t want to do the blood thing, and they were like, well, we’re going to force you to do it. I said, all right, whatever. I took the blood, I stayed in jail, I think I could’ve bailed myself out or my sister would’ve bailed me out, but I was just like not… It was Friday night, I figured I’m going to be stubborn too, so I stayed in there I think ’til Monday morning, I got out at like 3:00 Monday morning, and I went straight to work.
Taya Graham: I have to admit, I admire your stubbornness for refusing to pay bail. I think their lack of evidence helped support your assertion that you are being harassed for speaking out and filing complaints.
Daniel Alvarez: They’re like the street gang that you have to worry about, there’s like nobody else causing chaos but them. There’s a video of that actual stop on my YouTube from when my sister was recording, and when I brought up to the sergeant that came, I said, you know four of these guys were at the first traffic stop over there? He told those guys, hey, you guys get out of here, leave, hurry, quick, and I told him, why are you telling those four to leave, but you’re not telling anybody else? You’re only doing that after I told you that they were at the first two stops. And he told them, hurry up, leave. I said, that right there tells me that you know exactly what’s going on.
Taya Graham: Why do you believe you were stopped? I mean, do you think this was retaliation?
Daniel Alvarez: Absolutely. All the times that I’ve been stopped, definitely from the situation with [Tarris Hanenr], have all been retaliation because of the process that I went through was the formal complaint process. Since I did that, I believe that they’re not used to people doing that, they don’t think that anybody knows to do that, and a lot of people don’t know to follow that process. I was educated by somebody that, here, let’s go through this process, this is the way that you should do it, and it got attention from other people that affected them. They thought in their mind, let’s put pressure on this guy, and then he’ll just fold and won’t complain no more. But all the times that they did it, I just did the same thing.
I try to always record them, and then I go and I let the same process play out, and I think that it’s been back and forth, ’cause they come push and think I’m going to fold, and I just do the same thing.
Taya Graham: Now since we last reported on you, thousands of people commented on your video concerned about your last encounter with LA County Police, and now a public defender’s office is looking into police misconduct cases, and they have reached out to you because your rights were violated. What have they said to you?
Daniel Alvarez: He just asked me for some information. I think that he’s limited to what he can do or any information that he can give, he can give what’s public record, which is what any of us can go obtain. He just asked me what happened, why I was originally stopped, and then he asked me about everything that’s happened since then. I think there’ve been roughly eight encounters since then, and I have followed the same process with all eight of them, which is try to film them, always file the complaint, follow it all the way through. I just shared that information with him. I think it happens all too often, this is their thing that I always deal with. They pull me over and then when I ask them, okay, what’d you pull me over for? We pulled you over for not using a blinker. But they come up to you with a gun drawn, a gun in your face and it’s basically like, why do you have a gun in my face for not using a blinker? Do you stop everybody like this?
Their thing is, yes, we stop everybody like this. So it’s the same thing, gun in the face, drag you out of the car, handcuff you, back in the police car, super tight handcuffs for an hour. They never find anything, they’re angry, you put a little pressure on them, they try to put pressure on you, and then they leave looking like fools. Then you follow the process of the complaint, everybody sees what they’re doing, and it affects them in a different way, because a different set of eyes are watching them. I’m sure they do it all the time and get away with it, because not a lot of people want to go through the process of the complaint or know how to do it, or they’d just rather be left alone. I understand, because they come back in force.
Taya Graham: They pulled you over on eight separate occasions?
Daniel Alvarez: It’s been roughly eight separate occasions. I have all the documents of the places, times. They usually always write some tickets ’cause they have to show that they’re in charge, the tickets will always be dismissed. The last two that happened were with the sergeant, as soon as I passed through the light, they were both staring at me as I went by, but no big deal, I ain’t doing nothing. He literally runs the red light, turns around in the middle of the traffic, chases me down. I pull over and I’m going to get my phone, the same thing, he’s already out of the car running up with a gun. I’m not going to reach for nothing ’cause this guy’s already on one. Pulls me out of the car, handcuffs me, puts me in the back of his car, searches my mom’s car. We’re there for maybe an hour.
Taya Graham: Daniel, I honestly feel bad asking, but do you think because your video had so many views that it embarrassed the department, and maybe it contributed to your harassment?
Daniel Alvarez: Yeah, but you know what? I think it’s great, because it’s like, this happens literally so many times a day and it’s just normal. I see people all the time and they’re like, oh, I just got pulled over, this guy shoved a gun in my face, searched my car, treated me like trash, had me in handcuffs in the back of a car, said because I didn’t use a blinker. Really, because you didn’t use a blinker? That’s their excuse, you didn’t use a blinker, you made an unsafe lane change, didn’t have insurance with you or something stupid, but it doesn’t get no attention so there’s no repercussion and they can just keep doing it, doing it, doing it. That video just so happened that I told her, hey, start recording ’cause here he comes, and she was quick with her phone. She was like two buttons, bam, fast, and you’ve seen what happened just based on her recording of what they did to her. We’re going to assault you because you are recording us.
Taya Graham: The public defender’s office that reached out to you says that it is very common for these officers to violate Constitutional rights. How are they going to help you and others who’ve experienced police misconduct?
Daniel Alvarez: We talked a little bit and we were supposed to talk some more, I haven’t had a chance to get back to him. It’s crazy because after the very first incident, I’ve had three or four lawyers call me and ask me about the situation and about specific sheriffs, and if I knew them, and if I ever had encounters with them. I always direct them to my YouTube page, there’s some videos on there with those guys, if you know them, you can put their name to their face. They all say the same thing, these guys pulled this guy over for no blinker, almost the same exact situation, and I’m like, oh yeah, I believe that 100% because I see how they act. Definitely believe it’s true.
Taya Graham: How much has this cost you personally, either financially in tickets or legal fees, or just even in stress and emotional costs?
Daniel Alvarez: Absolutely it’s a stressful factor. In the beginning, I would have these situations with them, the encounters, and then it’s a super negative encounter already, but I try to never let it leave that situation and keep me negative, because just because they’re terrible people doesn’t mean that I have to be a terrible person too. I try to stand my ground to a safe distance. In the beginning I made a mistake by paying some tickets that were bogus. They were absolutely bogus, I knew they were bogus, he knew they were bogus, I didn’t want to miss work and I made the decision, you know what? I’m just going to pay them. I paid them, and then after I paid them, it was I’m thinking like $800 in tickets, not a whole lot, but $800.
Then after the fact some people had given me some input, feedback, why would you pay for something that you knew was bogus? And I had to really think about it. There was a couple reasons why I paid them. I didn’t want to miss work, I didn’t really care about the money, but I was just like, I’m just going to pay it. I did make the decision after that that, you know what, the questions that I was being asked, you’re absolutely right, and I’m not going to pay for something that’s fake, that’s false. You’re going to pull me over, you’re going to lie, and then you’re going to charge me money based on your lie? No, I’m going to go and I’m going to show the facts, ’cause if they’re doing it to me, how many other people are they doing it to?
Taya Graham: Now, if there is one thing that Daniel’s story reminds me of, it’s an essential right we often take for granted, but in some respects is our most important. It’s a right not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, but does permeate conceptually throughout it. Put simply, I’m talking about the right to dissent, more specifically the right to disagree with, push back, and otherwise challenge power. It is a right so important and so essential to maintaining our other freedoms that I don’t think this country could function without it, if indeed we think of our country as functional, but that’s a whole other topic.
If you truly examine the work of people known as cop watchers, for example, the videos and the antics all boil down to a massive affirmation of the right to dissent. The people who film police at traffic stops and post them on YouTube are, in one sense, journalists, but on the other hand activists committed to the fundamental idea of rational, and sometimes irrational, protracted disagreement or dissent. The reason I bring this idea up in part is because of the story we just discussed. Not necessarily to rehash the continued harassment of Daniel or his series of questionable arrests, no, what I want to focus on is why our ability to push back is so important through the lens of what Daniel experienced, and how his case shows that we simply underutilize and misapprehend the true power of simply disagreeing with power.
Let’s remember that your average citizen does not have the ability to issue a subpoena, put someone in handcuffs, fine them, confiscate a driver’s license, or otherwise compel someone to do anything other than listen. We can’t seize people’s property or break into their homes or get cell phone records or sift through the private information of any person or entity that piques our interest. But we’re not without power, because what we can do to ensure the formidable power of government does not overwhelm us is to never, and I mean never lose the right to tell our version of the story, to never forgo the ability to dissent by changing the way the tale is told.
In other words, I think we have to narrate and explicate our own stories of dissent. I think we must shape and preserve the counter-narratives to the pronouncements of the elite, that all forms of activism are just obstructing the inevitable. To get a sense of what I mean, consider this story about one of our favorite topics on this show: copaganda, or the media’s obsession with reporting from the sole perspective of law enforcement. Published by The Nation, the article starts by noting the 2020 release of crime statistics by the FBI, and how national media outlets used the spike in homicides to discredit hard won criminal justice reform.
The peace concluded this effort to link reform to a crime spike is part of a larger trend, “a pro-police worldview deeply ingrained in journalism”. The author goes on to argue that while there is no evidence tying a more just system with violence, major media outlets take every fluctuation in crime to make that same tenuous connection. This narrative they create only leads to more police spending, and less emphasis on the social services that might actually do more to prevent crime than the mainstream media might like to admit. Which is why I think the reaction to Daniel’s story is so illustrative of how important it is to discuss who writes the narrative for us.
That’s because police can target people like him if they own the narrative about him, so long as his perspective remains absent. Meaning, by constantly reinforcing the notion that the streets are inexplicably awash in blood and that only the police can clean it up, they’re left with almost unlimited discretion on how to go about it, which is why the lazy, abusive, and yes, unconstitutional tactics used to arrest and harass Daniel are possible. Simply put, the law enforcement-industrial complex makes us believe there is no other alternative but them, and that the working class is subject to an any means necessary process.
Why else would police target Daniel over and over again? Why else would they try to arrest and discredit him and make his life miserable, if not to punish and prevent him from telling his own story? What could possibly motivate them, other than the fact that Daniel got in front of the camera, exposed police corruption, and showed three million viewers the injustices perpetrated upon him? That’s the alarming message from Daniel’s travails with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department: we tell your story, not you.
Today, we are going to add to Daniel’s push for transparency, and join him in holding the officers in question accountable. We are going to do our part not just to tell his story, but to ensure that the harassment of Daniel stops now. To do so, we are going to read the names of the deputy sheriffs that the public defender provided to us who were involved or participated in Daniel’s arrest. Incidentally, the primary sheriff who pulled him over, Daniel Tanner, has been reassigned to the county jail. Here are the rest of the officers who were involved: Adam Ziko, badge number 482241; David Jenkins, badge number 615102; Juan [inaudible], badge number 616066; Travis Lang, badge number 616067; and Daniel Aguilar, badge number 622118. Let me say this: I am not accusing these officers of wrongdoing, but I am putting you on notice. We are watching, my audience is watching, so please just leave Daniel alone.
I want to thank my guest Daniel Alvarez for joining me today, for speaking with us, and for coming forward. Thank you, Daniel. Of course I want to thank Intrepid reporter Stephen Janis for his writing, research, and editing on this piece. Thank you, Stephen. I want to thank friends of the show, Noli Dee. and Laci R. for their support, thank you, and a very special thanks to our patrons. We appreciate you, and I look forward to thanking each and every one of you personally in our next livestream, especially Patreon associate producers, John R. and David K., and super friends Shane [inaudible], Pineapple Girl, and Chris R.
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