Isn’t YouTube wonderful lately? Everyone is posting their dash cam videos, and a few troublemakers are forever trying to prove how police officers abuse their authority when they get pulled over. Sometimes we side for the motorist and other times we side with the officer, but most of those videos begin too far into the confrontation for anyone to truly understand what is going on.
Then there’s the case of an elderly couple from Washington State, Robin and Beverly Bruins, who were traveling in their 1962 Chevrolet Impala last year in the state of Nevada. Being a classic car, Bruins had Historic Vehicle plates on the car, which is legal in Washington, and they were driving down the freeway when trouble struck.
In the video above, a Nevada Highway Patrol officer was making routine traffic checks when he spotted the Bruins in their Chevrolet. But when the officer ran the plate number, he left out the first character – a plus sign (+) – and the plate came back as an expired Harley Davidson license plate number.
The first thing that any gearhead would think is that a full size automobile license plate and a motorcycle license plate are no where near the same size. Considering the plate number didn’t match the type of vehicle, you would think the officer would double-check his number and question the result. But he didn’t, so he proceeded to assume he had caught a car thief.
The officer ordered Mr. Bruins out of the car at gunpoint, and standing there on the side of the freeway he ordered the elderly man to remove his shirt. Clearly you could tell by his reaction and nervousness that he was not the brazen car thief that NHP made him out to be. But just to be cautious they cuffed Bruins and put him in the back of the cruiser, and then ordered Mrs. Bruins out of the car.
As Mrs. Bruins exited the car, she reached back to grab her crutches since she had a broken leg, and of course that caused the officer to go into alert mode until he realized that she wasn’t reaching for a weapon. You would think this is bad enough, right? But it gets even worse.
When the officer relayed the VIN from the Impala to dispatch, the dispatcher mis-keyed a number and it came back as a stolen car from California. This second blunder by the NHP simply added to the Keystone Cop drama that put Mr. Bruins behind bars for the night.
A flatbed was called to the scene to tow away the Bruins’ classic car, and Mrs. Bruins was told that she could “say goodbye” to her husband before they carted this hardened half of Bonnie and Clyde off to jail. Mrs. Bruins, on her broken leg and seemingly without any assistance, was then allowed to unload all of their luggage and put it on the side of the shoulder, and she was allowed to stay at a hotel that night while her poor husband shared a cell with strangers arrested for varying crimes.
Now, the Bruins are suing the NHP for wrongful arrest from that incident last year, and have obtained an attorney. The irony in this entire series of events is that the officers at the scene even began to question themselves that there may have been a mistake somewhere, but instead of checking the numbers again they stuck to their convictions and arrested Bruins anyway.
We all understand the stress and pressures that police officers have to go through, and we applaud them for their sometimes heroic acts that they perform on a near daily basis. But sometimes common sense has to prevail, doesn’t it? After getting two responses that didn’t quite add up – the motorcycle license plate and the stolen car from California – should the officers have taken a step back and readdress the situation again, and made sure of the crime for which Bruins was being accused?
Imagine if that was your parents – or grandparents – who were ordered out of their own car at gunpoint, and one was ordered to strip off his shirt and get down on his knees before they cuffed him and hauled him off to jail. Again, we understand the life of a police officer is very dangerous, but this is an elderly man and an elderly woman with a broken leg – hardly the profile of hardened criminals out stealing cars, switching VINs, and terrorizing the open road. Perhaps we should all start a GoFundMe campaign for this couple, and raise money for the Bruins as was done for the Michigan Walking Man. The Bruins surely deserve it after this ridiculous fiasco.