An elderly couple is speaking out about what they say was an inappropriate “interrogation” during a traffic stop by a Georgia police officer.
In newly released dashcam video, a police officer in Walton County, Georgia pulls the couple over as they’re driving home from visiting their grandchild in Texas. Charles Tharp, 69, says he wasn’t sure why they were getting pulled over because they weren’t breaking any laws.
“It just seemed a little unusual because we’re not speeding and we’re always careful drivers,” Tharp told WGCL.
The sheriff’s deputy told Tharp that his windows were tinted too dark, and Tharp expressed sincere shock at this because the dealership told him it was fine.
“I thought that was awfully strange since these are factory tinted Toyota windows and it seems so peculiar that someone would stop you for something like that,” Tharp, who has cancer, said.
Suddenly, Tharp and his wife were asked to get out of the car by the sheriff’s deputy and were then forced to answer questions about drug smuggling to the officer.
“I don’t honestly know what the stereotype looks like for a heroin smuggler, but I don’t think a couple of senior citizens driving a handicapped license plate car with their little cocker spaniel really looks like we’re much of a threat to anybody,” Tharp said, noting that the interrogation lasted 20 minutes in the cold.
Now, the Walton County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the video, and the officer in question is reportedly receiving counseling.
“Our deputy is trained to take an extra step,” Chief Deputy Keith Brooks said, according to The Blaze. “He is actually attached to our narcotics unit and he is primarily support for them. However, when he is out on the road and not supporting them, he conducts traffic stops. His primary function is to look for criminal activity.”
Despite an explanation and steps that are being taken to correct the situation, Tharp says the experience has left him jaded.
“I tell you what,” Tharp said, “I respect the law less today than I did before.”