An organization walked people through the best practices for interacting with a police officer at an event Saturday afternoon at Burton Barr Library in Phoenix.
Halisi Tambuzi kicked off the presentation with police dash-cam footage that captured the fatal shooting of Philando Castile in 2016. The shooting garnered national attention and outcry after a Minnesota officer, Jeronimo Yanez, shot and killed Castile during a traffic stop.
Yanez claimed Castile, who advised the officer that he had a firearm, was reaching for his gun. Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm, but was later acquitted.
After the video, Tambuzi reviewed the various constitutional rights people have that limit law enforcement’s authority. Tambuzi said people should still be polite and respectful when speaking with an officer, but also know and exercise their rights before being stopped.
“Everyone deserves to get home safe,” Tambuzi said. “And the concern that does come up is that it can feel like not everyone’s being provided with that particular ability to get home safe.”
Tambuzi researched his rights after a police officer stopped him and his wife in Yuma in 2017. The officer said he stopped them because their windows were too tinted and asked Tambuzi’s wife, the driver, to step out of the vehicle.
Tambuzi said he and his wife didn’t know what their rights were during the stop and wanted to help prevent that situation from happening to others.
He founded a company shortly after the stop called FourFiveSix — named after the constitutional amendments — which sells a travel kit one can give to police containing their drivers license, vehicle registration, insurance and a pre-written statement invoking one’s Miranda rights.
During the presentation, Tambuzi gave key questions to ask an officer after being stopped, such as whether one is under arrest or their reason for stopping them. He also recommended having an officer clarify whether they’re making a request or a demand.
Tambuzi said to always tell an officer whether you’re armed beforehand — as Castile did — and to keep your hands visible on the car’s dashboard or steering wheel.
He also recommended people — especially people of color — to reconsider carrying a firearm in their car as its presence alone can escalate interactions with police.
“Using your particular Second Amendment right could ultimately be damaging to you,” Tambuzi said. “And so that’s something that you and your family have to identify — could ultimately be damaging to you.”
Tambuzi said it’s also imperative to consider the officer’s potential perceptions of you as you interact with them.
“I’m not (saying) the officer is such a biased individual that he’s trying to harm me. I’m saying what would somebody else see from this particular situation?”