A video of an encounter between Olympian Warren Weir and a police team in Trelawny has garnered mixed reactions.
The video, which is being widely circulated on social media, shows the police executing a spot check after stopping a vehicle being driven by the 2012 Olympic 200m bronze medalist.
The 20-minute footage of the traffic stop shows a member of the police team of about three officers individually asking Weir and another male occupant of the track star’s vehicle whether they had a firearm in their possession.
After receiving answers in the negative, the police officer searches the men and searches the vehicle amid protest from Weir who complains that the policeman did not ask him for an identification before conducting the search and provided no reason for stopping his car.
“You know you are yet to ask me for identification. Do you realize that?” Weir asked the cop.
The officer responded: “Sir, our operational standards (require) vehicle, person and documents… that will not change.”
The cop subsequently found an outstanding traffic ticket (from February 12) in the vehicle and proceeded to call traffic headquarters to verify whether there was a warrant in relation to the violation. At this point, the cop asked Weir for his ID and upon discovering the track and field star’s identification, expressed alarm at his conduct.
“Is this the Warren Weir who represents Jamaica?” the policeman asked rhetorically.
“The ambassador of Jamaica. My God of Heaven… a crying shame, a national embarrassment…” the cop continued before describing Weir’s behaviour as “atrocious” and “disrespectful”.
The police team eventually allowed Weir to proceed after issuing the athlete a ticket for excessive tinting.
In the meantime, Weir questioned the motive of the cops while arguing that he was the victim of an unlawful search.
Weir, who shared the video, warned that “you have to be vigilant and careful because you don’t know the tricks that (the cops) are up to.”
The video has attracted mixed responses from Jamaicans, with some criticizing Weir for his behaviour while praising the police for remaining calm in the face of an ‘unruly motorist’. Others supported the athlete and argued that he was indeed the victim of an illegal search by the cops.
In a news release, the Police High Command publicly commended the corporal and his team for “remaining professional while executing a vehicle checkpoint operation”.
The High Command said it is “pleased with the level of professionalism shown by the officers, in a situation that disrespectfully challenged their authority and showed disregard for the rule of law. This police team exemplified the fundamentals of excellent customer service, the standards by which the organization expects our officers to interact with the public at all times.”
Meanwhile, noted activist Lloyd D’Aguilar was among those who criticized the cops.
“Jamaican policeman searching Warren Weir’s car without having probable cause. Justice David Batts has ruled that this is illegal but the police High Command continues to ignore illegally abusing rights of Jamaicans. When will it stop?” D’Aguilar asked.
Against that background, Loop News would like to get feedback from our readers. Share your thoughts about the controversial video in the poll below.