PAR: Cops Stopped Him At A Questionable Checkpoint But What Came Next Made Him Fear For His Wife!

Married couple Wesley and Eshanae Chumbler were traveling with their 3-year-old child across the Illinois border into Kentucky when they were stopped at a police checkpoint by Kentucky law enforcement. For reasons that were hard to discern, police asked law enforcement to park their car on the side of the road. After asking Eshanae, who was driving the vehicle, to show her insurance information and driver’s license, police asked her to step out the car, and would not provide a reason when asked for one. When the couple refused, police violently forced them from their vehicle. Wesley was thrown to the ground in the process, and lost three teeth as a result. Officers proceeded to conduct a search on the vehicle, finding a small amount of marijuana. Cannabis is legal in Illinois, but not in Kentucky. The Chumblers say they were not aware that the marijuana was even in their vehicle. Kentucky police proceeded to arrest the couple for possession, and slapped additional charges on husband Wesley for obstruction.

The Chumblers’ case exemplifies how law enforcement is conducting itself across the country. Police departments emphasize the collection of fines and fees needed to continue feeding their ever-expanding budgets, rather than activities that promote the safety and health of communities. As cannabis laws change at an uneven pace throughout the country, states that still criminalize marijuana are increasingly targeting interstate travelers for legally questionable “fishing operations” that often trap unwitting drivers into legal nightmares far from home.

Studio: Stephen Janis
Post-Production: Stephen Janis, Adam Coley


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.

And to achieve that goal today, we will show you this video of a car stop by Kentucky police at a safety checkpoint which turned violent. It’s an alarming example of police overreach, who used it as a pretext to drag this couple out of their car and arrest them. But we will also share with you the ulterior motive we uncovered about why this roadblock existed in the first place, a stark example of just how far law enforcement will go to ensnare people in our criminal justice system.

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 at par@therealnews.com. And please like, share, and comment on our videos. You know I read your comments and that I appreciate them. And of course, you can always reach out to me directly @tayasbaltimore on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, if you can, please hit the Patreon donate link pinned in the comments below, because we do have some extras there for our PAR family. Okay, we’ve gotten all that out of the way.

Now, if there is one facet of American law enforcement that does not get enough attention, it is how much is focused on a single idea that should trouble all of us who are fans of democracy: entrapment.

That’s right. Again and again in cases we’ve covered, it’s clear that the system is often predicated upon the opposite of what it purports to be. Meaning, instead of being a process that rehabilitates a person who may have broken a law, or improving public safety, it seems to function similar to a web or a vast net to trawl as many customers as possible in order to fund itself in perpetuity.

And no case embodies this idea more than the car stop I’m about to show you now. It involved Wesley Chumbler and his wife, Eshanae, who were driving into Kentucky with their three-year-old toddler just over the border of Illinois. For reasons that remained mysterious at the time, there was a police checkpoint. And for reasons that are also just as hard to discern, the couple was asked to park their vehicle on the side of the road and wait.

Now, it’s worth noting before we show you the video that there is an intriguing difference between the laws in Kentucky and Illinois. Namely, marijuana is legal in Illinois, but not in Kentucky, which raises some interesting questions about why this so-called safety checkpoint existed at all, conveniently located just over the border.

But that is indeed what Wesley and his wife, Eshanae, confronted when they entered the state. Again, initially, they were told to pull over. Then an officer approached. And as you can see, things quickly escalated. Let’s watch.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Wesley Chumbler:  We got a child in here. We’re leaving.

Eshanae Chumbler:  Please –

Wesley Chumbler:  I’m going to record this.

Police Officer 1:  I need you to step out and talk to me.

Wesley Chumbler:  Why are you talking to her?

Eshanae Chumbler:  Because my license is good. I ain’t getting out.

Wesley Chumbler:  Your license is good. We ain’t violated no law. We got insurance. We’re ready to go. We got our child with us right here, young child.

Police Officer 1:  We’re on a legal stop and I need you to step out of the vehicle for me.

Wesley Chumbler:  No, this is not a legal stop. This is not a legal stop.

Eshanae Chumbler:  For what?

Wesley Chumbler:  It’s not a legal stop. What law did she violate?

Police Officer 1:  Okay, here’s how this works. I ask you to step out, okay? You don’t listen, I tell you to step out. You don’t listen to that, I have to make you step out. I don’t want to be [crosstalk] –

Wesley Chumbler:  Hey, what’s your name and badge number?

Eshanae Chumbler:  My name is Matthew Thomas. I’m a sergeant with the Ballard County Sheriff’s Office.

Wesley Chumbler:  What’s your badge number?

Police Officer 1:  5.

Eshanae Chumbler:  What’d I step in?

Wesley Chumbler:  What… What…

Eshanae Chumbler:  You can tell me the reason why I got to step out.

Police Officer 1:  I don’t have to have a reason to have you step out of the vehicle on a stop.

Wesley Chumbler:  Yeah, it’s not a stop. This is a roadblock.]

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS[

Taya Graham:  Now, it’s interesting that the officer asked Eshanae to step out of the car. As you will learn later, she had and showed her proof of insurance and a valid driver’s license. Therefore, generally speaking, an officer should be able to articulate a reason to ask someone to exit a vehicle. This is not just part of case law, but also an idea generally accepted as good police practice.

But that’s not what happened here. Take a look.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Wesley Chumbler:  This is a safety check. We got all the safety. We’re good. What’s the problem? We got our child. We just went to Dairy Queen. We’re trying to go home.

Eshanae Chumbler:  [crosstalk] my window up a little bit.

Wesley Chumbler:  She’s not violated any law. What would you want to get her out of the car for?

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:  So with the officer refusing to answer questions and police continuing to escalate their demands without explanation, the situation turned violent. And I want to warn viewers here, the video is disturbing. Wesley was thrown to the ground by the police, losing three teeth in the process.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Wesley Chumbler:  We don’t trust you. We don’t trust you. Hey, don’t you dare grab my wife. He’s grabbing my wife.

Police Officer 1:  Unbuckle your seatbelt [inaudible].

Wesley Chumbler:  He’s grabbing my wife. Hell no, buddy. Hell no. He’s grabbing my wife.

Police Officer 1:  Unbuckle your seatbelt and step out of the car.

Eshanae Chumbler:  [Inaudible], officer?

Wesley Chumbler:  Hey, Eshanae, step out. Eshanae, don’t let him hurt you.

Police Officer 1:  Step out of the vehicle.

Eshanae Chumbler:  Y’all [inaudible].

Wesley Chumbler:  He’s grabbing my wife!

Police Officer 1:  [Inaudible] car.

Wesley Chumbler:  He’s grabbing my wife and my son’s in here. I didn’t do anything. I’m filming this. I’m filming this. He’s grabbing my wife. I’m filming this. He put his hands on my wife.

Police Officer 1:  Step out.

Police Officer 2:  Step down.

Wesley Chumbler:  I’m filming it. I’m filming. Hey, they’re grabbing me, man.

Eshanae Chumbler:  Don’t grab on [inaudible].

Wesley Chumbler:  They’re grabbing on me. I’m not doing nothing.

Police Officer 1:  Grab [inaudible].

Police Officer 2:  Stop.

Wesley Chumbler:  Hey, come man. Why are you grabbing me, man? Why y’all grabbing me?

Police Officer 2:  Stop.

Wesley Chumbler:  Dude. Dude, why y’all grabbing me? Get my phone, Eshanae. Get my phone. [Inaudible].

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:  Now, it’s worth noting the couple had their three-year-old son in the backseat. And at the point of this violent interaction, neither of them had been accused of a crime. And even more troubling, as you will learn later, Wesley had served time in 2010 and subsequently got his life together and formed a family, which made their arrests even more problematic. But none of that apparently mattered to Ballard County law enforcement. Instead, as you have seen, they simply turned to violence.

And now for more on how the officer justified the arrest and the impact of the incident on their lives, I will be joined by the couple later. But first, I’m going to talk to my reporting partner Stephen Janis, who has been reaching out to the department for comment and looking into the case itself. Stephen, thank you for joining me.

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

Taya Graham:  So what is the department saying about the arrest, and how do they explain the officer’s actions?

Stephen Janis:  Well, I sent an email to the sheriff’s department with some very specific questions. Number one, what was the probable cause for stopping the couple? Number two, how often do they have these checkpoints and why? And number three, why wouldn’t the officer articulate why he wanted his wife to step out of the car? I asked those three questions and just a general comment. I have not heard back. But whenever I get it, by the time the show airs, I will share it with everyone or will post it on the website. Either way, I’m going to get answers.

Taya Graham:  So how exactly does case law apply to the officer who asks someone to exit a vehicle? What does the law say about that type of order?

Stephen Janis:  Well, like many legal precedents, it’s conflicted. There’s many different interpretations of this. Usually the Supreme Court has said – And I might add here, the Supreme Court has done as much as possible to erode our Fourth Amendment rights in these situations – That an officer can order you out of a car. However, the officer cannot order the passenger out of the car. There are two different cases. They have two different perspectives on this. It’s not a question I think that is completely settled, although it is fairly in the favor of officers to be able to order someone out of the car.

I don’t think it’s right. And I think we should have the ability to ask why and have some explanation. But as you know, the Supreme Court really loves cops and generally tends to rule in their favor.

Taya Graham:  So earlier, I alluded to the idea that this was not a good police practice. I was referring to something called the Peelian principles, a set of guidelines that outline how to police with the support of the public. Can you talk about what they are and where they came from?

Stephen Janis:  Well, in the 19th century, a British prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, proposed what we know of as modern day policing. And people were not happy about it. They were very paranoid, and rightfully so, that police were going to turn into these armed agents of the government and do the things we see them doing here in America.

So what he proposed were these Peelian principles, about nine or 10 principles that he promised police would use, to assuage the public and assuage your fears about policing. And one of them was just always be willing to explain why you were doing what you were doing to the public while you’re doing it.

And that, I think, is why we see in this video, the mistrust of this couple, when an officer couldn’t say, I’m asking you to step out of the car for X reason. The reason for the Peelian principles and the reason Sir Robert Peel said this was so people would know what police were doing and why, and so they would build some sense of trust. If I’m willing to explain myself, then it means I’m responsive to the public. If I’m just going to sit there and say, I can do whatever I want without telling you why, well, that breeds mistrust.

And I think the reason we decide to reference this in the show is just really to say that there is a better way to police, and the example of this case is just bad policing, and why bad policing sows mistrust in the community.

Taya Graham:  And now I’m joined by the couple who were subject to the brutal arrest you just witnessed. Wesley and Eshanae, thank you for joining me.

Wesley Chumbler:  Thank you, Taya.

Eshanae Chumbler:  Thank you for having me.

Taya Graham:  You were pulled over at a roadblock. Why was there a roadblock between Illinois and Kentucky?

Wesley Chumbler:  They’ve been having roadblocks there for, I don’t know, several years, I guess. It’s the only road when you come off of, from Illinois and you’re into Kentucky, you’re on a single road for about three miles, and everybody has to go through it. It’s like, they call it the Gateway to the South, I guess.

And they set a roadblock up there. And it’s supposed to be a safety check. You just show your license, proof of insurance, and then you’re on your way. But we had been to Kentucky. We live in Illinois and we’d been to Kentucky, out to eat, and we were coming back. Was it a Sunday evening? Or a Friday?

Eshanae Chumbler:  Saturday.

Wesley Chumbler:  Maybe on Saturday, I’m not sure. But we were coming back home and it was about 10:30 or 11:00, and we were coming around the corner, and all these lights were lit up down there. And that county sets up in between there. It’s a trap.

Taya Graham:  Describe what the officer did next as he spoke to your wife.

Eshanae Chumbler:  I just feel like he wasn’t asking me. He was just telling me.

Wesley Chumbler:  When we first [inaudible] up the roadblock, we pulled up and she had her… That’s not on the recording. She had her insurance on her phone, and she rolled her window down and she showed her license. She actually let him take her license, and he took her license. And she was showing him the insurance on the phone. And then –

Eshanae Chumbler:  He told me to pull over.

Wesley Chumbler:  …He said, just pull over, right here. I got another car behind you. So she pulled over and then he walked up to the window and she handed him the phone and he looked at her insurance, saw it was good.

Then he said, oh, wait right here. I’ll be right back. And he leaves the vehicle and goes back to where there are other officers. And we were just sitting there for a minute. And that’s when I said, I want to film this. I didn’t get a good feeling from it. So I got my video on. He had another officer with him, and then there were –

Eshanae Chumbler:  Three others.

Wesley Chumbler:  Three other officers, and they came back with a totally different demeanor. And as soon as he came back he said, can I ask you to step out of the car, please?

Taya Graham:  So five officers approached the car. You were understandably upset when the officer put his hands on your wife, in front of your child. How did the officers respond to your request to take their hands off your wife?

Wesley Chumbler:  He called [inaudible] other officers to come.

Eshanae Chumbler:  To get him.

Wesley Chumbler:  To come and get me, I guess. But nobody ever asked me to step out of the vehicle. But when I was watching him film and he kept saying, ma’am, I need you to step out of the car, I need to talk to you. And she was saying, for what? We were asking him to say… She said, you need to give me a reason why I need to step out of the vehicle.

And I said, we got a young child in here. We’re not stepping out of the vehicle. I said, we’ve got everything we need. And we were just asking him. And he stepped back on his haunches. And he just started rocking. And I could see the anger coming over his face, and he wasn’t talking or anything.

And then all of a sudden he just grabbed the door. He started ripping on the door, and I said, we don’t trust you. So I started saying, don’t touch my wife. He was reaching to unbuckle her seatbelt and drag her out of the car. And then when they grabbed her, I stood up out of the car and I said, hey, I’m just filming. I’m filming. And then they started trying to throw me on the ground and pushed me down. And for some reason, I knew I needed to get the phone back in to her.

So I don’t know how I did it, but I just kind of spun around when they were pushing me down, and I said, here, Eshanae. Here’s the phone. And I threw her the phone and she called her mother. And her mother came immediately and got the baby and the car. We don’t know where the baby would’ve been.

Taya Graham:  So Eshanae, how did you feel when they grabbed your husband?

Eshanae Chumbler:  I just screamed, don’t be touching him. And then I just called my mom so she could come get my baby.

Taya Graham:  So they wanted you and your wife to leave your child in the car alone? I mean, do you have any idea what would’ve happened to your three-year-old if you were both taken away?

Eshanae Chumbler:  Not at all.

Wesley Chumbler:  I have no idea. It’s scary.

Taya Graham:  Now, you suffered an injury because of this arrest. What were you thinking, knowing that in that moment you were experiencing police brutality?

Wesley Chumbler:  I was thinking, oh, no. This might be it, because they were both big guys, young guys. I thought, just try to fall to the ground as best you can and leave your hands back.

But they tried to… When I went to the ground, I went ahead and was just falling over for them. And then they tried to all shove and land on my shoulder. They wanted to shove my shoulder in the ground, but I rolled over, and then I put my head underneath the car, as far as I could, because I was scared they were going to start kicking me in the head. And they tried to, but then once I hit the ground, when I tried to get my head under the car, they hit me from the back and my face hit the pavement and broke my tooth, right here, the side of my tooth.

And then I just had my hands and arms behind me. And then they cuffed me and they drug me out and then set me up. And then I was like, why did y’all do that? I mean, I said, I’m old enough to be y’all’s father. Why were y’all throwing me on the ground like that? And they were, we’re just following orders.

Taya Graham:  So what exactly were you charged with?

Eshanae Chumbler:  Possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, resisting, and wanton endangerment.

Wesley Chumbler:  Felony wanton endangerment, for our child.

Taya Graham:  I mean, this seems like an extremely severe amount of charges. What kind of time could you and your wife be looking at, and what kind of legal fees?

Wesley Chumbler:  Yes, and, well, we had to bond out. $4,000 to bond out.

Eshanae Chumbler:  Two a piece.

Wesley Chumbler:  $2,000 a piece. And so that was pretty much… If we were going to hire an attorney, we would’ve used that. So I have a court-appointed attorney, and they supposedly can’t have us both represented by a court-appointed attorney. So they supposedly hired her an attorney, a private attorney.

Taya Graham:  So how has this impacted you financially or emotionally? I know you had an issue in the past. You had a felony. You served your time over two decades ago, and you’ve rebuilt your life, and you have a wife and a child. How does this make you feel, knowing this could all be put in jeopardy by this officer’s actions?

Eshanae Chumbler:  That I don’t want to go over there no more.

Wesley Chumbler:  You can tell in my voice, when I was talking. When I told her, just get out. Don’t let them hurt you. It was all about my family. I just wanted them to be okay, because I’ve already been through it and I know how it can go. She’s never been in any trouble. And the baby certainly has never been confronted with any of that.

And the sheriff said, why were you upset? Why didn’t you just leave your family? And I said, no. Ronnie, that’ll never happen. I said, I’ll never give up my ecclesiastic rights. I’ll never give up my God’s right to lead my child and my woman when they’re in fear and in duress. I’ll never do it for you. It was really a wake up that you can’t ever be comfortable now. And now it’s too much.

And when we went back to court the first time, we were pulling in the parking lot, and the sheriff who came on the scene that night and was the one that was talking to me afterwards, when they would put me in [inaudible], and he pulled up beside us like, what? Y’all got court? And I was like, you know we have court, or whatever. So we backed in and we went inside and he told me, he said, what’d they charge you?

And I said, you know what they charged me with, sheriff. You came to the scene. And he looked at it and he said, well, just go in there and plead not guilty, and we’ll get it all dropped down to you just plead guilty to possession of marijuana. He said, that’s the lowest offense.

And I looked at him and I said, I’m not really guilty of that. I mean, I’m not guilty. And he looked at me and he said, it’s just a citation. It would just be a citation. And then I said, well… And he said, just go in there. And I went in there and then I pled not guilty, for the arraignment. And then three days later, without a preliminary hearing, we were indicted on the felony.

Taya Graham:  Now, at this point of the show, I usually take an example of bad police behavior and relate it to a broader example of the system, as we like to say, that makes it possible. That is, to use the particular to illustrate a general point about how law enforcement evades, and often simply ignores, demands to reform.

But today I’m going to take a different approach. I’m going to focus on how something that seems entirely unrelated to policing is actually having a bigger impact on the state of American law enforcement than the pleas of the people subject to it. A topic that is rarely mentioned in relation to cops, but might actually prompt real change in how America is policed.

And I’m talking about insurance. That’s right. You know the product you buy to protect your car or home. The somewhat boring backwater financial instrument that is best associated with a temperamental duck or boisterous emu or a polite lizard.

Now, you might be asking yourself, Taya, why on earth are you talking about insurance on a show about police? Are you trying to get me to switch car insurance? I mean, what on earth does a business that protects against liability and damages have to do with cops? Well, actually quite a bit. That’s because this story in The Washington Post recently recounted how police departments are being forced to change their training and tactics because – Wait for it – They can’t get liability insurance.

That’s right. The story reveals how departments across the country have been sued repeatedly and are finally, and often reluctantly, changing their ways because insurers are refusing to cover the cost of damages related to their bad behavior.

One particularly glaring example cited in the story was the city of Saint Ann, Missouri. The small town’s department had a penchant for conducting high speed chases of people who refused to stop for minor traffic violations.

One such incident involved chasing a van in 2019 with expired tags at a speed of up to 90 miles per hour through a town of just 12,000 residents. It was a pursuit that led to a horrible accident with an innocent bystander named Brent Cox. The 55-year-old was left permanently paralyzed, and he sued the city. But even after a $1 million settlement, the chief of the city’s police department doubled down and defended the deadly tactics and refused to stop high speed chases. That is, until the city lost its liability insurance.

As the article points out, many police agencies rely on outside insurers to cover the losses due to police brutality complaints. However, like other forms of liability protection, if you file too many claims, the cost is going to go up. And that’s exactly what is happening across the country right now. Insurers are fed up with paying for police excess, and are demanding cops get their act together, or pay for the lawsuits themselves. Which, of course, ultimately means that you and I, the taxpayer, have to pay.

In the case of Saint Ann, the department was forced to abandon high speed chases altogether, which was a good thing, because prior to that, the city had racked up 19 accidents in the prior two years alone, leading to the injuries of 11 innocent civilians.

But what I find so disturbing about this entire ordeal is how this newfound sense of urgency to reform unfolded. And what I mean is that the process that led to departments changing their policies and tactics had little to do with the human costs incurred by brutality or negligence, but instead it was because of money.

That’s right. It was cold hard cash that made cops stand up and listen. Dollars and cents, not lives and rights, that prompted law enforcement to pay attention, which I think is quite revealing.

I mean, how cruel is the underlying imperative of American law enforcement if it takes an insurance policy to bring about change when human lives are at stake? How callous is a police department that it feels compelled to conduct 90 mile per hour chases through a small town of just 12,000 people, even when it results in a horrifying injury to an innocent bystander? And they only changed the policy because Geico called?

I want you to think about that for just a second. Police in a town with almost no crime felt they had the right to drive recklessly and dangerously to chase a set of expired tags. I’m not talking about a bank robber or a murderer. This wasn’t a mass shooter or an assassin. These were tags that had lapsed. And as a result, a man is paralyzed for life.

The calculus here is unnerving. A high speed chase for a traffic ticket that leads to a lifelong injury; No problem. Racking up millions of dollars in settlements for unnecessary brutality; No worries. It’s covered. The undeniable and unfixable havoc and destruction wreaked on the lives of citizens; Who cares? Wait. We have to pay for it? Okay, we need reform.

Listen, I know what I’m talking about here. Just up the road from my home, a suspect was chased by police due to the – And I’m not joking – The smell of marijuana, and crashed into a vehicle at an intersection just a few blocks away. Three people were killed in a chase over an odor. No charges were filed against the suspects. The officers were promoted and rewarded, and the chief defended their actions even though there was a departmental policy in place against high speed chases.

The point I’m trying to make here is you can’t defend an institution that has such a casual disregard for the lives of the people it serves. I mean, you can’t even really call it law enforcement if you have an utter disregard for the innocent. The sheer arrogance of the cops quoted in the story is simply hard to believe. They essentially said, we don’t care about the safety of the people who pay our salaries. The only reason we’ll change our ways is if we can’t get insurance. Seriously?

And that’s what’s important about not just the tale of insurers demanding accountability, but the story of the Chumbler family that we just showed you. As I’ve said before, we bestow tremendous powers on average people wearing a badge, the ability to both ruin and take our lives. And yet, when it comes to holding that same power accountable, again and again police and their partisans have pushed back like a bunch of, for a lack of better words, spoiled brats who want to have their cake and eat yours, too.

It’s as if any restrictions, any limitations at all is an affront to their unchecked primacy over our lives. Any suggestion that they pay more attention to preserving rights rather than violating them is turned around into a simplistic and self-serving argument that you are either for them or against them. A rhetoric that only serves the further expansion of law enforcement powers while denigrating the very fabric of our democracy. Pushback that underlies this country’s pursuit of justice for not just some of us, but all of us.

Which is why we will continue to report on stories like Wesley’s and his wife, Eshanae, and why we won’t back down for making sure the system that makes bad policing possible is reminded that the system actually belongs to us.

I want to thank my guests Wesley and Eshanae for joining me and sharing their story. And of course, I want to thank intrepid reporter Stephen Janis for his writing, research, and editing on this piece. Thank you, Stephen.

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

Taya Graham:  And of course, I want to thank the mods of the show, Noli Dee and Lacey R, for their support. Thank you. And a very special thanks to our Patreons. We appreciate you and I look forward to thanking each and every one of you personally in our next live stream.

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 at Police Accountability Report on Facebook or Instagram, or at @eyesonpolice on Twitter. And of course, you can always message me directly @tayasbaltimore on Twitter and Facebook.

And please do like and comment. I do read your comments and appreciate them. And even if I don’t always get to answer them, please believe me, I do read them. So thank you. And we have a Patreon link pinned in the comments below, so if you feel inspired to donate, please do so. We don’t run ads or take corporate dollars, so anything you can spare is greatly appreciated. And like I said, I’m going to thank each and every single one of my Patreons by name in our next livestream, including my new Patreon Lewis, who is now a Patreon associate producer of PAR, and my super friends, Shane Bustia, Pineapple Girl, and Code.

My name is Taya Graham and I am 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.