A Bradford County, Florida, sheriff's deputy pointed his gun, screamed at, and handcuffed a pregnant mother during a traffic stop for speeding earlier this month—all while her three kids looked on.
“If you make any movement, it’ll be the last mistake you’ll ever make,” Deputy Jacob Desue told Ebony Washington, who is Black, with his gun drawn after she stopped her vehicle, according to body camera footage from the incident.
Desue, a deputy for just two years, has since resigned.
Washington, who is four months pregnant, was on her way home to Jacksonville on August 12 with her three kids, ages 10, 7, and 1, in the car, when Desue tried to pull her over for going nearly 20 mph over the 55 mph speed limit.
Washington did not pull over right away, and instead turned her hazards on, according to a conversation between the two of them caught on bodycam and released to the public.
“Pull the vehicle [over] or I’ll put you into the ground,” Desue is heard saying.
When Washington finally pulled over at a nearby gas station, Desue drew his gun and ordered her out of the car.
“Turn off the vehicle right now,” he yells, threatening to use deadly force if she moved. “I want to see your hands—both your hands. Do not move!”
“I ain’t worried, I got my gun on you, we’re all good here,” he says just before she steps out of the car.
According to cellphone video recorded by one of Washington’s kids and posted on Facebook, Washington says the reason she didn’t stop is because she’s in the middle of nowhere with her kids, and it’s dark out.
In the cellphone video, a child can be heard crying and screaming “Mommy” as the officer handcuffs Washington.
In the bodycam footage, Desue tells Washington her excuse “means nothing.”
“All of that is shady, and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing right now,” he says. “I understand there’s a whole facade around law enforcement, traffic stops. But you being scared is what’s got you in this mess right now.”
Desue ultimately wrote Washington a citation and let her go. Washington told KAIT 9 in an interview that she feared for her life.
“Had I done any type of movement outside of what he asked me to do, that could’ve been the opportunity for him to pull the trigger,” Washington said.
The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the department told local TV CBS news affiliate that Desue had a history of disciplinary strikes on his record. After reviewing the footage, the sheriff’s office concluded the officer broke department policy.
“We immediately knew that we had a serious issue that needed to be addressed,” Sheriff’s Office Colonel Brad Smith said. “We're not condoning his behavior at all. I mean, watching it, hearing it… [It’s] completely unprofessional, completely out of line for how we want to present ourselves here at the Bradford County Sheriff's Office.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will determine whether Desue will get to retain his certification, according to CBS4.
While traffic stops are considered routine, they have often turned deadly for non-white motorists. The Guardian reported that from January 2017 through April 2022, officers killed 589 people during traffic stops. At least 28 percent of those killed were Black.
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