|Shelby Co. Sheriff Chris Curry|
As I reported yesterday, Lt. Mike DeHart stopped my wife and me as we parked on Sunday afternoon at the North Shelby County Library. DeHart claimed I had rolled through a stop sign while making a left-hand turn at the intersection of MacIan Lane and Keith Drive in the Broken Bow South neighborhood, where we have lived for 23 years.
I immediately informed DeHart that he was mistaken, but he took my license and registration and retreated to his patrol vehicle. When DeHart returned, he presented me with a warning for the "rolling stop" and then handed me some court papers, saying, "Mr. Shuler, you've been served."
When I quickly realized that I had been the victim of an unlawful traffic stop, I confronted DeHart and called him a "fraud" and a number of other choice words. We nearly got into a physical altercation, and he threatened to arrest me before my wife spoke in a tone of voice that made it clear DeHart was going to have to deal with her. A false move at that point likely would have put DeHart's career at risk--especially when it was clear he had no lawful grounds to stop us, and we were about to enter the veritable den of sin that is the North Shelby Library.
Rational thought seemed to enter DeHart's reptilian brain for just an instant, enough for him to return to his vehicle while we drove away and tossed the legal papers out our car window for him to clean up. (I despise littering, and certainly don't advocate it under remotely normal circumstances. But in this situation, I felt DeHart deserved a giant "up yours," and that's what the fluttering papers were designed to give him.)
Amidst the fracas, I wasn't even sure what the court papers were about, although we had a few of them still in the car when we got home. They involved a defamation lawsuit filed by Rob Riley, the son of former GOP governor Bob Riley.
What about the video? You can check it out at the end of this post, but here are a few key elements it reveals.
* The intersection where I supposedly rolled through a stop sign features fairly heavy traffic because it is less than 100 yards from the only entrance/exit to a neighborhood that includes probably 150 houses. Any driver approaching the intersection needs to be aware that he will be dealing with vehicles heading toward, and away from, heavily traveled Alabama 119.
* The intersection features a heavily obstructed view for anyone planning to turn left. As a driver approaches the stop sign, his view to the left is blocked by rows of trees, shrubbery, bushes, and other vegetation. Only when you pull even with the stop sign, do you have a clear view to see if it's safe to pull out. Any driver who likes the thought of serious injury or possible death certainly can roll through the stop sign while turning left. But a rational, coherent driver is extremely unlikely to do it--and I sure as hell didn't do it.
* DeHart claimed that he saw me roll through the stop sign while he was parked at the intersection of Keith Drive and Little Turtle Drive, which probably is more than 200 yards up a hill from where I was. A number of trees and bushes block the view from where DeHart supposedly was, and the stop sign in question isn't even visible.
I know that I did not roll through the stop sign on Sunday, and I know that Officer DeHart is a glorified liar and thug who violated our civil rights and committed any number of civil-law torts by detaining us without probable cause.
You are invited to view the following video and come to your own conclusions.