NJ Heroes Arrest Woman for Declining to Answer Questions

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So much for the Fifth Amendment and your (ex) right to remain silent:

Dash-cam video has been released as part of a federal lawsuit showing an attorney being arrested by New Jersey state troopers for choosing to remain silent during a traffic stop.

The incident occurred near the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border on Route 519 in Trenton on Oct. 16, Philadelphia attorney Rebecca Musarra says in the suit that the troopers violated her civil rights when they took her to jail on an obstruction charge for refusing to answer their questions.

Musarra was pulled over for speeding at around 9:30 p.m. by Trooper Matthew Stazzone, who was quickly joined on the scene by Trooper Demetric Gosa. The video shows Stazzone approach the vehicle on the passenger side and ask Musarra for her license, registration, and insurance.

“While you’re looking for that, do you know why you’re being pulled over tonight?” Stazzone can be heard asking on the footage.

Musarra said she provided the trooper with the appropriate documents but didn’t respond, choosing instead to remain silent. The video shows Stazzone ask her several more times before walking to the other side of the vehicle.

There he is seen tapping on Musarra’s window with his flashlight and he again demands a response from the woman stating, “you’re going to be placed under arrest if you don’t answer my questions.”

Musarra claims Stazzone chipped her window with his flashlight and the footage shows a brief exchange before she tells him she is an attorney and that she does not have to answer questions.

Stazzone is then seen ordering Musarra out of the vehicle, and as the two troopers handcuff and walk her to a patrol car, she asks, “are you detaining me because I refused to speak?”

“Yeah,” Stazzone responds, with Gosa adding, “yeah, obstruction.”

Musarra is then placed in the back of the cruiser and is read her Miranda rights by Stazzone, which include, “you have a right to remain silent.” She is then hauled off to the state police barracks in Washington.

Watch the raw footage:

In her federal suit, Musarra says once at the jail, she was patted down twice and cuffed to a bench inside a holding cell. She says she was denied phone calls with troopers promising to call her parents on her behalf, but never following through.

Obstruction in New Jersey is defined as impeding law enforcement through “flight, intimidation, force, violence, or physical interference or obstacle, or by means of any independently unlawful act.” Obviously, Musarra did not engage in any such behavior.

Musarra says the whole ordeal lasted about two hours before other troopers reviewed the dash-cam footage and told her “a mistake was made, and to chalk it up to training, and that [Stazzone] was just a rookie.” She was then released, and was able to get her car out of impoundment with no charge.

“In every instance where misconduct is alleged against a trooper or troopers, as is the case here, [internal affairs] will review the allegations and investigate the facts,” state police Capt.Stephen Jones said. “In the event that problems are identified, training and/or disciplinary measures are implemented where appropriate.”

State attorneys, who are representing the troopers in the civil matter, have already sought in federal filings to have the case dismissed. They have said Stazzone and Gosa “acted in good faith and without fraud or malice,” but have not addressed the specific allegations in the suit.

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Not sure where I saw it, but:
    You MUST INVOKE your 5th amendment rights. This has already been established by the courts. You need to SAY you refuse to say anything and are invoking your right to an attorney, and your right to say nothing else, and THEN you have the right to remain silent.

    Of course, a halfwit should immediately realize, that’s just an excuse for them to harass you anyway. They “smell weed/alcohol” and you “were slurring words.” Normal human response to being slandered is to defend yourself; now you’re “aggressive and combative.” And as 8SM mentioned, these machine have been PROVEN to give 0.3 (? Memory’s not great, I remember the 3, but not if it was 0.03 or 0.3) – FROM DINNER ROLLS. The sugars break down in the mouth…. BAM, you’re guilty! Even if you don’t have a drink with that dinner, and have the receipt, and they search your vehicle and find no alcoholic containers, and no hip flask, and there’s no credit/debit card indicating you bought alcohol…. You just got it from a friend, even if the timeline establishes you couldn’t have managed it (straight line from restaurant or bar to roadblock.)

    This is why “we” (The People) need to be more violent – not less! Appeasement only emboldens the bullies. The fear that they will make it home, just fine… And find their loved one’s remains as ash on the front lawn… THAT is how you deal with tyrants and bullies. You make them bleed. You punish the guilty…

  2. I’m an old hand with Miranda rights or not. The first words are “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be held against you”. You’re a dumbass if you open your mouth after that. Your fate, to whatever degree the perps determine, is sealed. Saying absolutely nothing is the only way to fly.

    I even had this happen to me recently taking a DOT alcohol test. I had gone to these two idiot women who were “certified”. Well, they were certainly “certified” in my book. I had taken the drug test weeks before and when they said they were through, I assumed alcohol tests were now done via the same urine i gave them for drugs. That turned out to not be correct. Weeks later I’m called to take an alcohol test. This was in the winter, dry, air full of all that crap that makes you sneeze and snot. My sinuses were draining, throat was dry and I’m in the wife’s car which always has a cupholder full of Hall’s Mentholyptus cough drops. I popped on in my mouth and was close to finishing it when I got to the “clinic” that wasn’t yet open at 10:30 am. I noted they took their good old time to come to work. They finally arrived and my mentholyptus was down to a sliver.

    I go in and ask why they didn’t get my alcohol test the first time, didn’t it come from cup I pissed in? Nope, (sorta hostile that I was miffed to be called in again)it’s a breath test.

    Many years ago when you could actually have a bit of alcohol on your breath a friend briefly worked as a deputy. We played with a breathalyser and it would show nearly anything as alcohol, even onion or any breath mint, just about anything including what he said “halitosis”. Well, it’s always good to know what you’re facing and now breathalysers show you drunk with NO alcohol although you can’t prove it. Troopers sit around and laugh about this with judges, none of which will ever need to take one of those tests.

    As I’m ordered to go to the back room for the test, I realize I’m sucking on that mentholyptus. Wait, said I, I’m sucking on this lozenge and I’m afraid it will show me to have alcohol on my breath. Nope, now way Bitch 1 says, this machine won’t show something like that. Well, says I, I have played around with one before and it showed damn near anything to be alcohol. This pissed Bitch 1 off fairly badly it would seem. But Bitch 2 spoke up and said to Bitch1, “Remember, it was a Hall’s Mentholyptus that made me fail”.

    Then the SHTF with Bitch1 and she said she could put it off ten minutes. By this time the mentholyptus lozenge was history, in my gut, reminding me with every breath. I said it’s too bad I can’t drink so which Bitch 1 started in telling me I was forbidden to drink or eat anything, what I had just said. She grew more hostile by the minute while I was trying to figure out how to get rid of the vapors of said lozenge. It turns out the official time allotted to let something disperse is 15 minutes, not 10 as she said. It’s easy to see she needs a fall guy and her sights are set on me. So I blow and the machine show in digital readout 00.0, a fair sign I’ve had no alcohol. Unfortunately for me, Bitch 1 took it as an affront even though I couldn’t see how you could cheat. Unknown to me, she wrote on the report that I said i wanted to leave and go eat and get something to drink. I hadn’t said squat before she said I couldn’t leave or have anything to eat or drink. I knew this without her telling me. So I take the report and send it in since it showed 00.0. The DOT sends it back weeks later saying I had to retake the test.

    It seems Bitch1 felt the need to write the lies of my wanting to go eat and get something to drink on the cheat sheet so DOT kicks it out. I had to take another alcohol test at company expense. This time I drove to our DOT reps(180 miles away), walked in, they fired up the machine while we spoke of trucking and what had been going on and I gave them the pages out of my DOT liars book as they called it. I told them they got to read some of the finest fiction ever written and they laughed. Machine is warm and ready, I blew, 00.0 came up again, they bid me good day as I did them…..and all this because of a Bitch who evidently wasn’t having a good day or had run out of batteries the night before or was just an evil person.
    This is a good example of “state bureaucracy” in action.

    • Dumb question: What was the purpose of the test…?
      If an accident, alcohol would be long gone…
      If for employment or something, WTF? Are you presumed to be drunk at all times?

      I know bureaucracy is pointless, but this seems to be a special kind of stupid…

      • This was the first of what they term “random testing”. It keeps you honest so to speak. Well, the piss tests do sorta keep you honest but for many of the strongest drugs such as amphetamines, etc. you can get suddenly ill and be out of touch for 3 days, enough time for it to be gone. Of course if you smoke pot you’re SOL unless any of those ‘masks” you can buy really work. They might for urinalysis but I wouldn’t want to find out they didn’t.

        Of course it depends on whether the company values you enough to give you time or simply springs it on you when you show up. I was “warned” a week or more ahead of time although I cared not a whit if it had been that day but the foreman didn’t make it the next week, had too much stuff hanging fire so a couple weeks later he was still sweating bullets when we all(me too)went together for what would be my second round and that was with a week’s notice too.

        Back when the patch was winding down and companies needed to downsize they’d have people there to test you first thing in the morning which always caught a few. It was mainly during the week so those wary enough to stay clean during the week-end would be caught. Some companies who absolutely had to have qualified people didn’t do those though.

        • Funny, isn’t it, how about all they’d catch are the alcoholics or the unlucky… Probably including those who used mouthwash that morning (E.G., Listerine has a high alcohol content; 20 proof, IIRC. I know it’s not really high, but for mouth-based vapors, probably a BIG deal.)

          How does that account for someone who was off and had a bang-up night, then showed up early and hungover?

          Hate stupid. We have a crisis here, a database server is DEAD. Anyone care to guess how long it’ll be before we even have a solution…? Keep in mind, the testing MUST be done (or ignored) by October 1 at the latest. And this isn’t something they can switch back and forth, it’s a total infrastructure change at the software level. Say, going from WordPress to blogspot and re-homing the content….

          6 months is the best guess, so if you guessed that, you’d get the gold prize.

          6 months to rebuild a database that we cannot test without. For applications moving millions every day. Over the cost of MAYBE my salary for a year. (Likely half or less, but let’s over-estimate.)
          Compared to a potential cost of millions in lost transactions + millions in SEC fines + millions in lost business. All so they can save about $50K/year on paper, per person. (There were about 20 people I believe.) But “things unseen”… – the 20 people? Spoke English. Knew the culture. Knew and were part of the business. Were in the office.
          Instead?
          We have about 5 people we deal with regularly. All of whom are service providers. We have another maybe 100… all distributed across multiple organizations. All paid by a third-party service provider (Big Blue-per.) Who ignore the SLA, when they even answer the ticket. (E.G., you call help, and get put on hold until you hang up. Would YOU pay for that kind of abuse?)

          Bad money drives out good. Shite offshore workers make it impossible to live a decent life by undercutting local wages. (Why pay locals $20/hr when you can pay a foreigner $5/hr + 1.5X for third shift, and the KTLO costs are another $2.50/night, and the phone costs are paid by the caller, so… No way for locals to compete, and didn’t even comment on OSHA and benefits costs.)

          I think a “reset” button is essential.

  3. Too bad there is no restitution for the harm committed to this individual.

    unreasonable detention
    Loss of time
    possible damage to property

    are some that come to mind.

    Unfortunately, some individuals look at it as a power play and are competitive. They do not like their authority “disrespected” or challenged.

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