Alexandria, LA — If ever you think that all traffic laws are for your safety, one thing can change that view—window tint. In the land of the free, if police feel that your window tint is too dark, they will claim the right to extort money from you. If you resist this extortion, police will claim the right to kidnap or kill you. Unfortunately, in the land of the free, these instances happen so frequently that they are often caught on video too. As the following incident illustrates, fearful cops whose only tool is the escalation of violence, will not hesitate to resort to deadly force over a stop for window tint — up to and including putting a bullet in your head.
When 45-year-old Derrick Kittling was pulled over by Rapides Parish sheriff’s deputy Rodney Anderson earlier this month, he had harmed no one. Anderson had targeted Kittling for extortion because his window tint was dark. Just 58 seconds later and Anderson would put a bullet in Kittling’s head — executing this father of three over the arbitrary darkness of his windows.
For weeks, police refused to release body camera footage from the incident but this week, after pressure from family and attorneys mounted, the videos were released. What they show is the epitome of the problem with policing in America.
As stated above, Kittling had harmed no one, he had no warrants for his arrest and the entire reason for the stop was extortion for victimless crimes. As the stop begins, Kittling is cooperative and complies with the deputy’s orders, although his accent made them hard to understand at points.
As the video shows, Kittling has no clue why he was stopped as he has no warrants, was not drinking or driving dangerously, and had simply been helping a friend fix his truck in the neighborhood. As Anderson barks hard-to-hear orders at him, Kittling struggles to understand what the deputy wants. Because he is having a hard time understanding, Anderson decides to escalate to the point of kidnapping Kittling.
“Turn around and up your hands behind your back,” Anderson says as he approaches Kittling to kidnap him for window tint.
“For what? For what bro?” Kittling asks. “What is wrong with you, why are you grabbing on me, man?”
Clearly sensing a very real threat, Kittling attempts to maneuver out of the deputy’s grip which causes Anderson to escalate force further.
“What’s the issue?” Kittling asks twice as Anderson wrestles the father’s wrists.
“You’re agitated, you’re turning, and you ain’t following directions,” Anderson says.
“I am following directions,” Anderson says. “I don’t hear you. Can I get my phone, sir?”
“We’ll get to that, just turn and face the truck,” Anderson says.
Seconds later and Anderson pulls out his taser and the pair falls to the ground in a struggle as the taser is heard going off.
Though bystander video shows Kittling on top of Anderson at one point during the struggle, he does not appear to be attacking the deputy and is only trying to get away. As Kittling tries to get to his feet to get away from a man who is attempting to extort and kidnap him over the arbitrary darkness of his windows, the deputy pulls him back to the ground before putting a bullet in his head.
“Shots fired,” the deputy says over his radio. Kittling would eventually be brought to the hospital but he was already dead.
Kittling’s brother is a high-ranking state police officer who will now have to deal with the gravity of his brother’s death and the role the badge played in it.
“The newly-released footage in the Derrick Kittling case confirms what we had suspected from our initial review of the facts: Derrick‘s killing was unwarranted and completely preventable,” national civil-rights attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Ronald Haley said in a statement after the video’s release this week.
“We believe that Deputy Rodney Anderson profiled Derrick from the moment he initiated this out-of-jurisdiction traffic stop for window tint and a modified exhaust,” the attorneys said. “Deputy Anderson escalated and demonstrated the use of unnecessary deadly force during this traffic stop.”
Indeed he did. Below is the video of the incident that has been heavily edited by the sheriff’s department in their attempt to justify the actions of this officer. No matter how hard they try to justify the deputy’s actions, however, no one ever has the moral right to extort and kidnap innocent people over victimless acts which harm no one.
Legality ≠ Morality.