Bengals Defensive Lineman Sam Montgomery was arrested a couple months back in South Carolina; his only offense speeding. As we’ve discussed before on Crimcourts, that’s not enough for a criminal charge in Florida, as when Dodger Yasiel Puig was arrested for high speed on Alligator Alley. However, speeding alone can bring a reckless driving charge in Virginia, and that will land you in a jail for a few days, if you get popped in a town that’s far enough away from civilization. Apparently, arrest for speed is within an officer’s discretion in South Carolina… and that’s not what got the trooper in hot water.
The trooper ended up losing his job for unprofessionalism. The video is jarring. He asked Montgomery if he was military, and when Montgomery responded that he was in the NFL. As soon as Madison told him that he played football, he put him under arrest, apparently the fact that he plays in the NFL made him more arrestable. It actually goes down from there, as the trooper pulls out his taser and threatens to use it on Montgomery. Montgomery, to his credit, is nothing but polite with the trooper.
I don’t think Montgomery got arrested for being in the NFL; I think the cop just had a personal policy for arresting people, as he says, “25 over, you get arrested.” I don’t think he needed to threaten a Taser: Madison was as compliant as anyone I’ve ever seen stopped. And while the officer has the discretion to arrest, it should only be reserved for special circumstances, not mere speed (perhaps extreme speed, or someone who doesn’t have their license or ID on them). An arrest escalates the tension of the encounter. It is substantially more taxing on resources, as it involves jail personnel, booking, and it takes the trooper off of his patrol probably at least a few hours each arrest. All over a $300 ticket. It’s not necessary to arrest someone for a misdemeanor more of the time, much less for a simple ticket.
Also, I’m biased. I’m a Bengals fan… though Montgomery is not projected to end up making the team.