UTC Police Department Traffic Stop Summary of June 24, 2020
- 8:44 p.m. June 24, 2020. Probationary Officer Wendell Hughes and Sgt. Garrett Foster were parked in Lot #61 at the State Building on McCallie Avenue. Sgt. Foster, Officer Hughes’ field training officer, was on duty to observe the probationary officer’s training.
- Corporal Jonah Goddard was parked beside their vehicle in his patrol unit.
- The communications staff dispatched Cpl. Goddard to McKenzie Arena, located at 720 East 4th Street, to close the load-in ramp doors. Cpl. Goddard left the parking lot and traveled down East 8th Street toward Douglas Street.
- After Cpl. Goddard had already vacated Lot 61 and was out of sight of Sgt. Foster and Officer Hughes, Officer Hughes started toward the exit of Lot 61 when he noticed a vehicle to his right at the intersection of East 8th Street and Houston Street. The vehicle made a left hand turn onto Houston Street.
- A second vehicle, a white Volkswagen, approached the intersection at a higher rate of speed. Officer Hughes noticed the vehicle slowed, but stated that it continued through the intersection without stopping.
- Sgt. Foster also observed the vehicle travel through the posted stop sign without coming to a stop. The officers stated that they could not clearly see the occupant of the white Volkswagen and could not tell the race or gender of the occupant.
- Officer Hughes exited Lot 61 onto 8th Street to follow the vehicle east down East 8th Street. Around the same time, Cpl. Goddard made a U-turn on East 8th Street to travel back to Douglas Street and turn right toward McKenzie Arena. Cpl. Goddard indicated that, after he had left Lot 61 and started down East 8th Street, he mistakenly failed to turn at Douglas Street and made the U-turn on East 8th Street once he realized his mistake.
- Officer Hughes called the tag of the white Volkswagen into dispatch after turning on East 8th Street to follow the vehicle and activated his front headlights to stop the white VW on East 8th Street, just past Brown Academy.
- Officer Hughes stated that by the time he was able to catch up to the white Volkswagen, it had approached Douglas Street.
- Officer Rex Sorenson heard the radio traffic and responded with his UTCPD vehicle toward the traffic stop to assist Officer Hughes.
- The traffic stop was conducted since the driver of the white Volkswagen ran through a stop sign at the intersection of East 8th Street and Houston Street.
- Officer Hughes approached the vehicle from the passenger side window. Officer Rex Sorenson responded to assist Officer Hughes with the traffic stop and approached the vehicle on the driver side. Sgt. Foster also approached the vehicle with Officer Hughes but was present only in an observation role to evaluate Officer Hughes’ performance.
- Officer Hughes introduced himself as “Officer Hughes from the UTCPD,” and explained the reason for the detention to the driver. Officer Hughes advised the driver that she had run the stop sign located at East 8th Street and Douglas Street.
- Officer Hughes mistakenly advised the wrong intersection for the traffic infraction as the occurrence was East 8th Street and Houston Street.
- Officer Hughes did not realize his mistake while talking with the driver and never corrected himself to the driver.
- Individuals from the nearby residence began directing profanity toward the on-scene officers and requested to know the reason for the traffic stop. One female stated, “Where is your warrant?” Sgt. Foster repeatedly advised the individuals not to interfere with the traffic stop.
- Cpl. Goddard arrived and addressed the neighborhood individuals in an attempt to calm their reactions, telling them that he would speak with them once the stop had been concluded. Cpl. Goddard never approached the stopped vehicle.
- Officer Hughes requested a driver’s license and vehicle registration from the driver.
- The driver of the vehicle explained that her license was inside a bag in the trunk of her vehicle and Hughes requested her name and date of birth so that he could run that information through dispatch.
- Additionally, the driver stated she was a faculty member at UTC and provided Officer Hughes with a Mocs ID. She further stated that her lawyer was inside one of the residences near the stop location.
- After Officer Hughes collected the driver’s information and explained the reason for the stop, running a stop sign and the risks associated with pedestrians walking across the street, he released the driver with a warning. Officer Hughes’ interaction with the driver was courteous, friendly and professional during the entire encounter.
- The fact that the driver had previously mentioned she was a UTC faculty member had no bearing on Officer Hughes’ decision to release her from the scene with a warning.
- Officers at the scene reported the driver of the white Volkswagen never appeared anxious or upset during the traffic stop.
- The individuals at the residence continued to direct profanity toward the on-scene officers. Those individuals were warned to refrain from interrupting a lawful police encounter and return to their residence. All officers remained calm, courteous and professional with the individuals throughout the approximate twelve-minute detention.
- During the event, three UTCPD patrol vehicles were parked behind the suspect vehicle and four officers were present. After the stop was concluded, Cpl. Goddard and Officer Sorenson approached and briefly spoke with the individuals from the nearby residence.
- After being released from the traffic stop, the driver turned her vehicle around and parked across the street from the residence occupied by the individuals interfering with the stop.
- The driver walked over to the individuals and thanked them for checking on her, while they were still speaking with Cpl. Goddard. The driver was smiling and spoke with Cpl. Goddard about how Cpl. Goddard knew her husband.
- All units left the scene with no further action.
End of Statement
Lt. John Boe #503
UTC Police Department
At the request of the person who was the subject of the June 24 traffic stop, the UTCPD has removed all videos of the traffic stop. The UTCPD continues to retain copies of the videos in its records.