WHITAKER (KDKA) — A man turned on his camera after being pulled over in Whitaker Borough, and the video has now been seen tens of thousands of times on Facebook.
Forty-six-year-old John Mitchell, of Swissvale, did what a lot of people do nowadays when stopped by police; he decided to broadcast it on Facebook Live.
“And you’re pulling me over for what reason?” he asked the officer.
Mitchell was initially told he was stopped for “suspicious activity,” a term he questioned repeatedly throughout the stop.
“Suspicious activity that I violated? I don’t think that’s a law at all,” Mitchell said in the video.
Attorney Blaine Jones offered his thoughts on Mitchell’s actions.
“Quite frankly, what does [suspicious activity] even mean?” Jones said. “That’s is such a generic, ambiguous phrase that you can pull over someone at any point in time for, quote, suspicious activity. I tend to agree with Mr. Mitchell.”
Mitchell argued with officers for nearly 30 minutes. He asked for names and badge numbers. They pushed him to show his ID and registration information. The car was a rental and was due back two days earlier, so when taken into custody, one of the charges Mitchell faced was theft of leased property.
But many who watched the Facebook Live stream asked if he should have just shown them his ID in the first place.
“They’re about to beat me, Facebook,” Mitchell said in the video. “I’m about to get beat down.”
“If you are compliant, then usually you can kind of diffuse the situation. However, based on what he is saying, I think he is frustrated. I think he is fed up,” Jones said. “I think a lot of viewers will probably say he should have done that, but if you listen to his Facebook Live posts, which I did with great concentration, he said he had been pulled over, I think, 12 times in the past two months, and at some point in time, you become upset.”
Jones has since been retained to represent Mitchell in the case. His preliminary hearing is set for April.
Police did not respond to KDKA-TV’s request for comment.