A constitutional lawyer told News 4 the US Department of Justice report on the Ferguson police department shows how vital it is that everyone know their constitutional rights when stopped by an officer.
“The most important thing for people to know is they have a right not to answer questions,” said constitutional lawyer Daniel Herman.
Herman's comments come after a report that documented repeated rights violations by Ferguson police. The federal government said one example is that of a man who was sitting in a car in a public after playing basketball. The man was subjected to a search and arrest after an officer accused him of being a pedophile.
Herman said even if an officer is wrong in an action, you must comply.
“It's important to tell the officer you do not consent to having your person searched but if they insist on going forward with the search, you cannot physically prevent that officer from carrying out that search,” Herman said.
The DOJ also cited an instance when the 16-year-old son of a woman who was stopped by police tried to take cell phone video of the traffic stop. The officer ordered him to put the phone down, something Herman says is illegal.
“The most important thing for people to know when they're recording an incident between somebody else and police officer is you need to make sure you stay out of their way. If you get in their way, you've committed a crime,” Herman said.
Herman said fighting police misconduct must be done later in court, not while the incident is taking place.