The actions taken by a Texas City police officer during a Buc-ee’s traffic stop last month are now under official scrutiny after body cam footage went viral.
Officer Scott Harrell was suspended from active duty while internal investigations looked into his handling of a traffic stop at the Texas City Buc-ee’s on April 19 at around 6:20 a.m., according to KPRC.
He may face criminal charges for what transpired during an encounter that lasted about 23 minutes, according to the body cam footage posted by Christopher Shull on YouTube on May 15.
Shull had pulled in to refuel his vehicle that morning when he was approached by Harrell, who claimed that Shull had driven recklessly through the parking lot on his way to the Buc-ee’s pumps, speeding, cutting through the lines, and nearly colliding with another vehicle.
“I’m not going to write you a ticket, but the only reason I’m not writing you a ticket is because I’m out of tickets right now,” Harrell said in the video.
Shull questioned the legality of the potential ticket from the start.
“Everyone knows you cannot write tickets for traffic infractions on a private parking lot. I didn’t even know what to think,” Shull later told KPRC.
The situation quickly escalated as Harrell responded to Shull’s insistence that he had done nothing wrong with threats of arrest.
“You want to go to jail? You want to go to jail? You could go to jail for this,” Harrell asked Shull in the footage.
“I think this whole thing is ridiculous,” Shull said to Harrell. “Nothing happened and here we are talking and you’re threatening to take me to jail.”
Shull was eventually handcuffed and put in the back of Harrell’s squad car while still in the Buc-ee’s parking lot.
“I’m concerned that you’re going to continue to do this unsafe behavior,” was Harrell’s explanation for placing Shull in cuffs, according to the body cam footage.
“So now we’re playing Jean-Claude Van Damme future cop and you need to stop me from something I may do in the future?” Shull asked Harrell.
Harrell eventually released Shull once another officer came on the scene. Shull was issued a citation for disregarding a traffic control device.
Shull recently appeared in court and took the ticket to trial.
“It seemed to me that [Harrell] wanted me to admit that he was right,” Shull said of the incident while speaking to KPRC. “He just keeps escalating it and escalating it and trying to gain the authority to hammer me down.”
After being posted on YouTube by Shull, the body cam footage swiftly garnered thousands of views. As of May 25, the view count stood at over 14,000.
Joe Stanton, Texas City chief of police, issued a statement on May 24 saying that after reviewing the footage, he ordered the incident to be investigated by the Office of Professional Standards.
“Every incident of this kind is taken seriously, and subject to review by me, Chief Joe A. Stanton. An officer is subject to discipline up to and including possible termination for violating such policies,” the statement read.
Shull told KPRC that he is still considering filing a complaint against the department. Harrell has worked there for nearly five years.
“They need to go back and look at this guy’s body cam footage from six months, a year. It wouldn’t surprise me that he’s been operating this way for a very long time,” Shull told KPRC.
Harrell has not spoken to the press about the Buc-ee’s incident.