The president of a local chapter of the NAACP in South Carolina said he was racially profiled in April by a police officer when he was pulled over for a traffic violation, but body camera footage released by the Timmonsville Police Department contradicts the reverend’s claims.
“TONIGHT I WAS RACIALLY PROFILED by Timmonsville Officer CAUSE I WAS DRIVING A MERCEDES BENZ AND GOING HOME IN A NICE NEIGHBORHOOD,” Jarrod Moultrie posted on Facebook April 13.
Timmonsville Police Officer Chris Miles stopped Moultrie for not engaging his turn signal before turning, according to the officer’s body camera footage and Moultrie’s Facebook post. A South Carolina Highway state trooper assisted the officer during the stop, according to Timmonsville police.
In the Facebook post, which has been deleted, Moultrie recounted the dialogue between him and Miles.
According to Moultrie, Miles asked him if he had any drugs in the car, where he worked, who was the owner of the car and why he was in the neighborhood.
“Me: sir I am a pastor and I live in the house on the left,” the post reads. “Officer: And I guess I am the bill gates.”
The encounter between Moultrie and Miles is different than what Moultrie described, based on police body camera footage released by the Timmonsville Police Department.
In the video, Miles identifies himself with Timmonsville police and asks for Moultrie’s license, registration and proof of insurance.
As Moultrie is unfolding paperwork, the officer asks, “Now you don’t own the motor vehicle?”
“Yes, sir, I just transferred,” Moultrie replied as he hands him what appears to be a receipt for the vehicle.
The officer repeats Moultrie’s statement about transferring tags and then asks for Moultrie’s name as he hands him the registration for the previous vehicle. Then the officer asks for Moultrie’s license and tells him why he stopped him.
“The reason I’m coming in contact with you is that whenever you took that left right here, you didn’t signal. Okay. That’s the only reason I’m coming in contact with you. Okay?”
After Moultrie gives Miles his license, the officer heads back to his patrol car, the body camera footage shows.
In the patrol car, the officer checks the registration, which he tells dispatch is for a 1992 GMC Sierra.
When the officer returns to Moultrie’s car, he tells him to try to not drive the car until he has the proper registration, the body camera footage shows.
When Moultrie tells Miles he bought the car recently and switched the tags, the officer interrupts him to say he needs to go to a DMV in South Carolina to ask why the tags are still registered to the truck.
“I switched the tags from the truck to the car,” Moultrie told the officer, while gesturing to the receipt of the Mercedes.
“They told me a DMV—the dealer put that on there, that showed the tags gonna be transferred. And all I need to do is keep this registration in there and this bill that’s here.”
“They told you wrong,” the officer responded. “You’ve got to have the proper documentation in your motor vehicle that actually matches the car that you’re operating on South Carolina highways.”
The officer then hands him back his license, tells him to wear his seatbelt and drive safely, the body camera footage shows.
Based on the body camera footage, the officer never asked Moultrie if he had drugs in the car nor why he was driving in that area.
Moultrie’s account of the dialogue between him and Miles when the officer returned to the Mercedes is different than what the body camera footage shows.
“Officer: I am warning you to not drive this car til tags get straight and just know I am doing you a favor tonight not taking you to jail or writing you a ticket,” the post reads.
In the post, Moultrie says his wife was in the back seat without a seat belt and with a baby out of the car seat. He also mentioned he would follow up with Timmonsville police because “someone needs to answer for this behavior.”
Timmonsville Police Chief Billy Brown said Moultrie contacted him the day after the traffic stop to say he was racially profiled and mistreated, ABC15 News reported.
When Brown reviewed the body camera footage, he said he was shocked that the reverend would lie about the encounter.
“When I saw the video, I was shocked that someone who is supposed to be a community leader, a pastor, and head of the NAACP would just come out and tell a blatant lie,” Brown said to the news station.
“It bothered me. It really bothered me, thinking about the racial unrest it could've cost in the community and it's just troubling to me that someone who held a position like that would come out and just tell a lie."
Moultrie was elected president of the chapter, which was inactive for several years, in 2017, SC Now reported.
Moultrie said to SC Now in 2017 that many of the problems that he wanted to address--school board inadequacies, unjust city ordinances, low voter registration and the lack of police presence--in Timmonsville were rooted in electing city officials based on history, rather than credibility, and not holding elected officials accountable.