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This story was shared on my talk show, The Hidden Report, by Brenda Cortes, the victim. This allegedly happened in a town that is relatively far from her, so she was unable to go to the precinct and produce any solid evidence for me. However, just because this wasn’t filmed, or we cannot get the footage, doesn’t mean the story should go untold. The talk show episode she was a guest on is featured at the end of the story.
Unless you have been living underneath a rock, you are aware that the tension between law enforcement and people of color is so thick these days that you can cut it with a knife. That being said, anyone who follows my work is aware that I am a big supporter of our law enforcement officials. However, you should also know that I am a supporter of what is right versus wrong.
This story is not a “bash the police” story. This is being shared to raise awareness around a scenario that thankfully did not become deadly. All parties involved made it home safely that night. However, this could have easily become a deadly situation. The only reason you are not watching this story on the 10 o’clock news, is that the victim, Brenda Cortes, handled the situation absolutely perfectly. However, had she or her teenage son made one wrong move, they may no longer be here to tell this story. The experience has understandably left Brenda Cortes traumatized and fearful for her safety.
On the day in question, Brenda’s vehicle had been broken into and vandalized by some criminal element. After calling up her car dealer, she was told that a new window had been ordered and would arrive the next day. In order to not have her vehicle entirely exposed to the elements, she decided to do what most people do when they have a broken window and she covered the broken window space with a plastic bag.
Brenda and her son had a birthday party to attend on that same day. As this vehicle is her only method of transportation, they boarded her partially damaged car and headed out to the event. This is when things became scary for Brenda and her teen. A motorcycle police officer in the Fremont neighborhood of California flashed his lights and pulled her over.
According to Brenda, Fremont is a relatively safe area in Alameda County. Since she was certain that she had done nothing wrong, Brenda didn’t think much of the stop. So far this was a routine traffic stop, it happens all of the time. Yet, according to Brenda’s story, when the officer approached her vehicle, he had his service weapon drawn and aimed at them. As he approached the vehicle he saw her, and her son. Brenda stated that the officer appeared to sigh in relief, and then proceeded to holster his weapon.
As we spoke on the phone during my talk show, The Hidden Report, a tearful and clearly shaken Brenda Cortes told me that the officer asked her the following question: “Do you know why I have pulled you over?” Terrified, Brenda replied that she did not know and the officer stated that it was because he saw her using her phone.
She expressed that calmly explained to the officer that her phone was not accessible to her at the moment, and that it was actually attached to her vehicle’s communication system. The officer insisted that she was on the phone and proceeded to give her a ticket. Brenda, knowing that it was a waste of time to do so, didn’t fight the cop. In addition she was still shaken up about the gun situation, especially with her son in the car, and today’s current climate. The officer ticketed Brenda and he then took off and carried on with his business.
Soon thereafter Brenda went to court to try and fight the ticket the proper way. However, the judge was not hearing any of it. It was the Officer’s word against hers. This is why those body cameras and cell phones are a great tool. To add insult to injury, Brenda had to pay the fabricated ticket. She stated tearfully on the phone that she could not afford legal help, and had no choice but to comply. In fact, she stated that the judge ordered her to remain silent unless she was specifically asked a question. “It’s just not fair” she stated to me as she sobbed on the phone.
Let us objectively examine this situation, and why I think that this officer deserves to be reprimanded. He actually deserves a hell of a lot more than that for endangering the lives of this woman and her son! Though as of yet, all that he has received is positive credit for a fabricated ticket that he allegedly wrote.
If his reason for pulling Brenda and her child over was in fact because he saw her on the phone, then why would he approach her vehicle with his gun drawn? This officer was not a rookie. As per Brenda’s personal testimony, he was an older man, and clearly has been on the force for sometime. Please explain to me, what life threatening situation this officer observed which required that he draw his service weapon?
If he did in fact see her on the phone, as he claims that he did, then he would have seen a small woman, and her teenager sitting in the car. So either he is lying about why he stopped her, which should negate the ticket, or he has no business being a police officer. Whatever the case was, this officer has traumatized Brenda Cortes.
So why is this story not all over the news? Well, because Brenda was smart, and didn’t make any sudden movements, or reach for her license, etc. Can you imagine what would have happened if Brenda or her son made any sudden movements as the officer approached her vehicle with his weapon on the ready? What if she didn’t notice that his weapon was drawn and she stuck her head out of the window? This cop could have easily shot and killed Brenda or her son.
If the officer had stated that there was a mistaken identity, perhaps this would make more sense to me. However, approaching a vehicle with your gun drawn over an alleged traffic infraction? Really? No, we are not buying that story!
As Brenda shared her story with me, the audience could hear the raw emotion in her voice. We could all hear as she fought back the tears, and expressed the great fear that she lives with now. She is afraid to drive her car at night, and terrified when she sees law enforcement officials. Having a gun pointed at you when you have done nothing wrong, in this current atmosphere must be terrifying. I understand why she feels this way, and she shouldn’t have to fear for her life from the men and women who are sworn to protect her.
This police officer has done the good law enforcement officials a huge injustice. Brenda said that she has always supported police officers, and that she has stood by them when many others have not. However, now she’s terrified of them.
This is not meant as an attack against law enforcement. This PARTICULAR officer was wrong, and we want this story to be made public so that Brenda, and others like her who have been mistreated this way are no longer victims of “fearful,” or abusive law enforcement officials.
Here in New York City, Officer Peter Liang was also fearful. He was so fearful that he also had his gun drawn without a clear threat to his or his partner’s safety. As Liang entered a badly lit stairwell with his finger on the trigger, he was startled and his gun went off. Sadly that story ended quite differently. Akai Gurley, an innocent 28 year old man who was walking down the stairwell with his girlfriend was shot in the chest and lost his life. That’s what happens when a cop is fearful!
Thankfully this was not the case with Brenda Cortes and her son. Just understand and realize how close they came to being shot, without a just case. Just think about that for a second, and maybe you will understand why she is so terrified now.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you are a fearful person, paranoid, or quick to pull your gun, perhaps you are not suited to be a police officer. I had so many bad experiences growing up in the streets, that I know I am not a good candidate for enforcing the law. I have too much emotional baggage and trauma. I wish more people were as honest with themselves as I am. Perhaps we’d have a lot fewer accidental police shootings.
Please share this story and let’s show Brenda that she has nothing to fear, while showing this irresponsible officer that we will not take this abuse of power lying down! I am not advocating for starting a riot, but I am advocating spreading the word.
With the passing of time, Brenda appears to be recovering from this terrifying situation. Let’s help her share her story.
Growing Up Bronx