SUNY Plattsburgh police chief defends arrest of Black student during traffic stop

Local News

A traffic stop on Rugar Street is raising questions on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.

University Police officers spotted a car operating without headlights Thursday evening. Chief Patrick Rascoe says what should’ve been a routine stop escalated quickly.

“We make traffic stops like this every night, and unfortunately that night, the actions of the defendant dictated what next steps would be,” Rascoe said.

Police dash-cams recorded the incident, but police would not release the video. A short clip shown by the department shows a black female student being arrested. Claims circulating on social media say she was forced into a police cruiser. There was another passenger in the car.

Rascoe said the clip does not tell the full story of what happened during the nearly one-hour interaction between officers and the vehicle occupants.

“At some point she decided she wasn’t going to participate in the traffic and that she was leaving. The officers words didn’t work and so one officer grabbed her by her wrist and two officers escorted her toward the police car,” he said.

Rascoe says the car’s registration was suspended, due to lack of insurance, and the inspection sticker was faulty.

Rascoe says the student was never placed in handcuffs, and she was later released. University President Alexander Enyedi posted a statement that’s since been removed, saying the students involved were traumatized by the event. Enyedi’s statement said he is committed to maintaining a safe and fair campus.

The PBA, the union representing University police officers, says Enyedi “rushed to judgment, strongly implying that race was was the motivation for how the student was treated.”

Charges have been filed against the student for operating without headlights, suspended registration, and the false inspection sticker. She was also charged with resisting arrest. She did not respond to our request for an interview.

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