Richmond man ignores officer when approached outside of a motel

Published: May. 29, 2015 at 7:44 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2015 at 10:09 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - NBC12 is getting answers when it comes to your rights for whenever you're approached by a police officer. It follows a viral video with more than a million viewers watching a Richmond man's refusal to cooperate when approached by a cop. The subject of that video is now speaking only to NBC12.

If you're sitting in your parked car and then approached by a police officer, and that officer won't tell you why you're being approached, what would you do?

Roy Williams says absolutely nothing.

"Mr. Williams, Mr. Williams, Mr. Williams," a Richmond Police officer repeats to a man sitting quietly in his car.

Williams has no words for the officer after he approaches him while parked at the America's Best Value Inn earlier this week.

"I'm not talking to y'all. Y'all have no reason to be talking to me right now," Williams tells the cop on the video.

"So why am I over here talking to you?" the officer responds.

"Because you're being a police officer," Williams answered.

"That makes no sense," the officer fires back.

The 25-year-old, who had rented a room at the inn for the night, had just made a fast food run. He says since he knew he wasn't involved in a crime, he simply sat in his car eating oatmeal, refusing to hand over his ID.

"I just be chilling," he said, unbothered by the officer at his door.

"Do you have a firearm in here, Mr. Williams?" the officer said.

"Plenty," he responded with his concealed carry permit in hand.

Williams eventually shows his license, but through the window, never fully winding it down.

"I was in a similar incident back in February where they got out the car and walked up on me for no reason," Williams told NBC12.

It's why he says immediately pulled out his cell phone to record the entire incident.

"You've got to look at all of this in context," said Dana Schrad, with the VA Association of Chiefs of Police. "It's always a good idea to cooperate with law enforcement... if you give any officer a reason to suspect negatively why you're not cooperating with that officer, then it leads an officer to think you may have something to hide."

Schrad says in situations like this, there could be an undercover operation where an officer may not tell you why they're approaching you.

"You may think you're being harassed, when the officer is trying to protect you or other people in the area," she added.

"I just feel like I'm a target the majority and most of the time," Williams said.

That led him to keep quiet, despite the law right at his car window.

"Who gone check me? Nobody," Williams said in the video.

NBC12 went inside the hotel to see if management called police on Williams. They said they did not. NBC12 reached out to Richmond Police, who would only say the department is aware of the video, and are not answering whether the officer did anything wrong or if he's being investigated.

Schrad says if an officer asks to search your car without a warrant, you don't have to consent. She also says you do have the right to record officers with your cell phone, as long as it doesn't prevent police from responding to a crime scene.

The ACLU is also weighing in.

"If the person is 'operating' the vehicle (even while parked on private property) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the VA Supreme Court has held that they can be arrested under VA law. There's also a requirement that, if you are operating a vehicle on a public highway, you have to show your license and registration to a police officer who asks... and private property owners can ask police to enforce motor vehicle registration requirements on their property, so all of this might give the officer the ability to ask a person sitting behind the wheel of a car for his license and registration," said Claire Gastañaga with the ACLU.

She adds a person standing on a street corner, however, may be required to give his/her name since some localities require it, though there's not a state law that does. But in those cases, she says, no other information is needed, not even an identification.

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