Gerardson Nicolas, a Black motorist, was on his way to work when he was pulled over in North Miami Beach for not wearing a seat belt.
Nicolas told NBC Miami that “he started filming after the officer who pulled him over took the keys out of the car’s ignition and opened the door.”
During the routine traffic stop, the police officer, who remains unidentified to date, said, “No, you’re not going to work… You’re going to give me your driver’s license. Give me your driver’s license, registration and insurance. If not, you will not be going to work today. Simple thing, man.”
While Nicolas was searching for the relevant materials, he recounts, “I was scared, I was scared. I didn’t think my life was going to make it…When he asked me for my license, open the door, I started recording. I was looking for my stuff, my license because I didn’t see my wallet. I was looking for my wallet and that wasn’t my car, that was my mom’s car and I didn’t know where the registration was, I was looking, looking. He got mad.”
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Then, the officer told him, “This is how you guys get killed out here, man.” In the video, you can hear Nicolas respond, “What? Say that again? Say what you just said,” and the officer simply stated, “Registration and insurance.”
The now-viral TikTok post has racked up more than 75,000 views. During the entirety of the encounter, Nicolas said he feared for his life, “I was like, I’m gonna die. That’s what I was thinking.”
Miami-Dade’s police union issued a statement indicating that “the officer was informing Nicolas of the dangers of driving without wearing a seatbelt” and that his comments were not racially motivated.
The President of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, Steadman Stahl said, “It appears that the officer is referencing people who die due to not wearing a seat belt…The only reference to race appears to be coming from the way this incident is being portrayed, not from the officer.”
Regardless of the intention, Nicolas is still feeling the aftereffects of the stop—”I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about it…I just want it to stop because sometimes I feel the way they treat us, they feel like we nothing.”
The Miami-Dade County Police Department is reviewing the 30 minutes of footage from the officer’s body camera and additional evidence and has since released the following statement. “The officer’s patrol duty was changed to administrative desk duties pending a complete investigation of the traffic stop, the officer’s comments, and conduct…Rest assured we are committed to transparency and community trust and will address all matters of public concern equitably, fairly, and in accordance with applicable laws.”