Some officers get so accustomed to such behavior that they react angrily when someone has the temerity to invoke his rights. In a case last month in Texas, Lionel Alexander sued officer Marciano Garza for roughing him up in a hotel parking lot. Alexander said he was parking his car when Garza activated his emergency lights. When the officer asked for his license and registration, Alexander turned over his papers, but when Garza asked him about what he had been doing before the stop, Alexander declined to answer. That made Garza radio for backup.
After more officers arrived, they asked Alexander to exit his vehicle. Alexander said he did not believe he was legally required to exit, at which point the police lost all patience and got physical, pulling him out of his car and pinning him down on the pavement to put on the handcuffs. Alexander was arrested on “resisting a search,” but he was released the next day, and the charge was then dropped.
Even lawyers sometimes fare no better. In 2015, Philadelphia attorney Rebecca Musarra was pulled over by New Jersey state troopers on suspicion of speeding. Musarra turned over her license and registration upon the trooper’s request, but declined to answer his question, “Do you know why you’re being pulled over?” Flustered by Musarra’s calm assertion of her right to remain silent, troopers yelled at her and then pulled her from her car and arrested her for “obstruction.” The charge was dropped, but she suffered the indignity of an arrest and a brief stay in jail.