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What happens when you pull over a police officer?

A Florida woman recently filmed a motorist she believed to be speeding and pulled him over, even though that motorist was a police officer.

Claudia Castillo
A police officer in Florida is pulled over by a concerned civilian after she claimed he was speeding and driving recklessly.

A Florida woman recently took the law into her own hands after seeing a police officer driving over the speed limit on a Miami-area highway, she said.

The woman posted three videos to YouTube of her experience which detail her trailing of an officer’s cruiser. She said she believed the officer was speeding and driving recklessly.

“To keep up with him I’ve had to… push the limit and everything and I actually know he was about going about 100 miles an hour because I was hitting 80 and I could not catch up to him, and he was still leaving me behind,” the woman said in the first of her three videos.

“I was able to get up to him and honked and flashed my lights to ask him to pull over, and he… I don’t know if he ignored me or anything, but he’s been, you know, driving recklessly and pushing 100, you know, 80 to 100 miles an hour, you know, throughout the highways,” she said in the video.

The woman never personally identifies herself or shows her face on camera, but the name of the YouTube account where the videos were posted is displayed as Claudia Castillo. The first video shows her following the officer, the second continues and eventually shows her getting the officer to pull over, while the third video shows her confronting the officer about his driving while both are parked.

None of the three videos show evidence of the alleged violation, and the woman claims the officer was speeding before she could begin filming.

“Just troublesome, you know, to see,” she said in the second recording. “I’m sure he’s a good guy but, you know, nobody’s above the law ... You’re a leader in the community, you need to be an example to the community, you need to, you know, you need to lead by example, you need to show what’s the right thing to do.”

After getting the officer to pull over at the side of the road, the footage shows the woman explaining the situation to him. The officer then denied speeding.

“I don’t know how fast I was going, but I can tell you this, I’m on the way to work right now. I don’t believe I was speeding,” he said.

He went on to ask if the woman had an emergency, to which she replied “Just your speeding.”

“I apologize and I’ll be sure to slow down then,” he said. 

In a statement, the local police department said it would look into the matter.

“The Miami-Dade Police Department will have the officer’s immediate command staff investigate the matter, once the officer and citizen are identified. The appropriate course of action will be taken at that point,” Miami-Dade police director Juan Perez said, according to CBS Miami.

The filmed encounter comes at a time when both civilians and police departments are questioning the role that recording devices have in relation to police work. While far from a citizen’s arrest, the incident highlighted the increased accountability that smartphones and small video cameras are bringing to police departments around the country.

The “Ferguson effect” – named for the Missouri city that saw continued anti-police protests after a white police officer shot dead an unarmed black man in 2013 – suggests that officers tended to become overly cautious as they faced increased public scrutiny, although the concept has been largely debunked.

“This is a very human dilemma, and cellphones aren’t going to get un-invented,” Drexel University criminology professor Rob Kane told the Monitor in October. “We have this technology and now we have to learn to live with it.”

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