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To protect and serve? Cleveland cop holds man at gunpoint for speeding as pregnant wife goes into labor

Cleveland cop

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(NaturalNews) On a recent Friday morning, Samuel Taylor hopped into his car and sped home to his pregnant wife after she called to say that the baby was on the way. But before he could get to her, a Cleveland Heights police officer stopped him for speeding -- then pulled his weapon on the panicking father-to-be.

"I was literally about six or seven houses from my home," Taylor told Cleveland.com in an interview.

Taylor did not deny that he was speeding, but he says he believes that the officer was far too quick to pull out his sidearm.

According to the Cleveland.com report:

Cleveland Heights Officer William Robinson tried to stop Taylor's station wagon -- complete with two car seats and a "Baby on board" window sticker -- about 7:20 a.m. as he sped down Coventry Road at 38 mph in the 25 mph zone. Taylor's wife, Katie, was near her due date and had a high-risk pregnancy.

Taylor slowed down, turned on his hazard lights and turned onto his block in the 2600 block of Edgehill Road. Several cars blocked street parking, so he did not stop until he reached his home.

"I froze. I did not know what to do or where to stop. I was afraid," Taylor said.

Taylor, the chief operating officer at a local company that makes and sells science projects, said the officer quickly exited his squad car with gun already drawn.

"I need help

"Officer Robinson approached me yelling at me to put my hands up and holding me at gunpoint as if I was threatening his life," Taylor said. "His finger was on the trigger."

He went on to say that he pleaded with Robinson to let him go check on his wife, who experienced a number of complications during her pregnancy.

"'Please let me go inside. You can follow me; just holster your weapon,'" Taylor said he told the officer.

He said he attempted to reason with Robinson for as long as 20 minutes, repeatedly asking the officer why he had been pulled over but says he got no answer.

During the stop, Robinson allegedly searched Taylor, then told him to remain in his car. At that, he says, Taylor called the Cleveland Heights Police Department; he says a lieutenant summarily threatened him with a felony charge.

The report said Robinson eventually approached Taylor with his gun still drawn; Taylor's wife opened the door in tears.

"My wife said, 'I need my husband to come here,'" Taylor said. "'I'm going into labor. Please tell me what is going on. I need help.'"

Robinson then gave Taylor a speeding ticket and one for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. Eventually, Katie Taylor was hospitalized with complications related to her pregnancy.

Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson is on vacation and did not return calls for comment. Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley told the website that the city believes that Robinson acted appropriately [the standard answer from government officials].

"We're aware of the incident and complaint by the driver and the matter is currently under review," Briley said. "Upon initial review we are comfortable that the officer followed CHPD protocol appropriately and he conducted himself in a professional manner."

The issue of how police officers are interacting with the public they are supposed to protect and serve has become a major public policy issue in recent months, following high-profile cases in cities as diverse in size and population as Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and, now, Cleveland.

"He should have de-escalated the situation"

In Ferguson, white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown after Brown had strong-armed a local convenience store and then tried to charge Wilson and take his weapon, according to grand jury testimony. The shooting sparked days of protests when it happened, in August, and when the grand jury refused to hand down indictments in late November.

In Staten Island, the choking death of Eric Garner by NYPD officers also spurred national unrest and protests.

"Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice released a 58-page report criticizing Cleveland Division of Police's use-of-force tactics," Cleveland.com reported. "Among the numerous issues raised in the findings, the Justice Department criticized several instances where officers drew their weapons too fast or in situations where other methods to diffuse a situation were more appropriate."

Taylor has said he is considering filing a civil lawsuit.

"I get that I should have pulled over sooner," Taylor admitted. "But he shouldn't have escalated the situation; he should have de-escalated the situation."





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