A string of errors on the part of troopers with the Nevada Highway Patrol resulted in a humiliating and frightening experience last year for a couple from Washington who were pulled over while cruising down the highway in their classic 1962 Chevy Impala.
Now, the couple, Robin and Beverly Bruins, has filed suit against the troopers and the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Trouble started for the Bruins when they were pulled over by a trooper after he initiated a “routine records check” on the car. When the check did not return a match, the trooper pulled the couple over, Las Vegas’ KLAS reported.
When the trooper ran the registration number which the couple gave him, he didn’t include a “plus” sign. The vehicle showed up as an expired registration for a 2011 Harley Davidson, as a dismissal of charges document explains.
That mistake was compounded when the trooper relayed the Impala’s VIN to a dispatcher who then mis-keyed one of the digits.
When the entry bounced back as a stolen vehicle from California, troopers then proceeded to badger Robin, forcing him to take off his shirt and kneel on the ground before ultimately arresting him.
Dash camera footage recorded the entire dramatic scene.
“Driver! Remove your keys from the ignition and put them on the roof now!” a trooper commands.
Robin complied and says he made a joke to his wife but then turned around to find himself staring at drawn guns.
“And I turned and looked back and saw three gun barrels pointed at me. And, obviously it hit me. Whoa! What’s going on here. To this day I have never experienced anything like looking down the barrel of guns like that,” he told KLAS.
Robin was ordered out of the vehicle. And standing between the police cruisers and his car, he was ordered to take off his shirt.
“Go ahead, lift your shirt up,” the officer commanded. When Robin began taking off the shirt from his waist, the officer barked, “With the top of your collar!”
“And it wasn’t until I had taken my shirt off and told to get on my knees and handcuffed and I said, ‘What’s going on? Do you think this car is stolen or something?’ And he said, ‘exactly right. And their car is going back to its rightful owner,'” Robin told KLAS.
After Robin was taken into custody, the troopers zeroed in on Beverly who was still in the passenger side of the vehicle. They commanded her to get out, but she was on crutches and struggled doing so.
As she went to reach for the crutches, a trooper is heard yelling, “Keep — we said keep your hands in the air and walk backward towards us!”
She was then handcuffed as troopers checked her background.
After Beverly’s record came back clean, the troopers un-cuffed her and asked her if she wanted to say goodbye to her husband. She asked why she would need to say goodbye, and the trooper said “well, he’s going to jail.”
“So I went over to see Rob and he’s in the back seat with no shirt on on, hands behind his back and tears are running down his face,” Beverly told KLAS.
The Bruins contend that Robin never should have been arrested, and that troopers were almost certain he was not driving a stolen car when they detained him.
Evidence of that was also captured on the dashcam recording.
“I tend to believe him,” a trooper is heard saying. “I mean I’m gonna run him before I make a determination…the guy comes back with possession…or a history of something like that. If he’s lying to me, that’s a different story. But, as of right now, I mean, he seems to be legit.”
Nevertheless, Robin was shuffled off the Clark County Detention Center, where he spent most of the night in a cell with dozens of other inmates.
Robin also told KLAS that while he was in jail, he asked workers there, “Well I’m past the time for my medications, can I take those now?” he said.
“No, you can’t have anything you brought with you,” Robin says he was told.
“I just think they should have used, that they should have used a character judgment. We live our lives so that we don’t get into situations like this,” Beverly told KLAS.
“To be treated like the both of us were, I mean, at gunpoint and then handcuffed and then humiliated by making you take your shirt off and get on your knees on the side of the freeway. I mean, why should that have to happen to anybody?”