City Council directed its staff this week to look into claims from a Glendale man who says he was stopped and interrogated by police four times in the past six months for a vehicle infraction for which he was never cited.
Phillip Herndon addressed councilmembers Tuesday during their weekly meeting, saying that he has “gotten sick” of being repeatedly pulled over by police for a broken tail light, and asked a series of questions about his whereabouts, whether he was on parole and how much time he has done.
“To me, it’s offensive,” he said. “It’s frightening to be stopped at night by the police, knowing how these incidents often turn into something ugly for people in my situation.”
Herndon’s claims drew immediate interest from Councilwoman Laura Friedman and Councilman Zareh Sinanyan who requested to access the audio and video recordings of the traffic stops.
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but it doesn’t sound healthy,” Sinanyan said.
Mayor Dave Weaver also assured Herndon and his friend, who also appeared at the meeting to speak about the incidents, that city staff would investigate the incidents and take appropriate action.
“It just won’t be swept under the rug,” he said. “It won’t be.”
City Atty. Michael Garcia on Thursday formally denied a California Public Records Act request for access to the audio and video recordings, which he said were exempt from disclosure because they were part of a police investigation.
City Manager Scott Ochoa said Herndon’s claims were probed and investigators found “nothing inappropriate was evident on those cameras and those recordings.”
Herndon reportedly filed two complaints with the department.
While Herndon only filed two complaints, the department is looking into the two other incidents, Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro said. He was reportedly stopped by different officers.
During the stops, he said Herndon was never asked to get out of his car, nor were he and his car searched.
In one of the recordings, Castro said an officer could be heard trying to calm Herndon, who was reportedly upset.
With the Police Department’s focused on improving the city’s traffic safety, officers are looking for violations and at vehicle equipment that could be hazardous on the road, Castro said.
Still, Herndon, who has lived in Glendale for about a year and a half, told councilmembers he was “just treated very badly, very harshly, treated as criminal. I am not a criminal. I have no criminal record.”
Even after he was stopped, Herndon said he was never issued a citation to fix his broken light.
He alleges police pulled him over when he didn’t have problems with his car.
Herndon has been reportedly pulled over on his route home from work for a broken light, which he claims wasn’t out. In another stop, he said his light was out.
In one incident, Herndon had just returned books to the library when he said police stopped him because they allegedly couldn’t read the registration stickers on his license plate.
Herndon claims he was profiled as a potential criminal, even though he said he is not.