Traffic stop caught on camera poses questions about passengers’ rights during stop
A traffic stop involving New Jersey State Police troopers is providing a look at the rights and responsibilities of passengers in a vehicle that is involved in a stop.
Hassana Jennings refused to give her name to a state trooper during a traffic stop in Roxbury. She wasn’t driving that car that was pulled over, but was a passenger in the backseat. Her refusal to provide her name would eventually lead to her arrest.
“Whether I didn’t give him my ID or not, he had no business yanking me out of the car like that,” she says.
Jennings arrest along Interstate 80 was captured on video. Before she was handcuffed, she could be heard telling the trooper that she doesn’t have to give him her name.
“They said I didn’t have to give my name,” she said in the video.
The trooper replied, “You’re going to give me your name.”
Jennings is referring to a police dispatcher that she was on the phone with. She had called 911 during the stop when the driver, Tyrone Daniels, was being arrested on traffic warrants.
“Once he did that to Tyrone too aggressively, I got scared,” Jennings says.
The trooper told Jennings that she was hindering his investigation. After the two argued back and forth, the trooper can be heard pulling Jennings out of the car and placed her under arrest.
News 12 New Jersey asked Jennings why she did not provide her name to the trooper.
“Because, I don’t know. It was like the heat of the moment. I was scared. Why do you want to know? What are we doing?” Jennings says. “Especially with our people – Black people – the outcome is never good. So, I did feel threatened the way the guy was talking to us.”
Jennings was charged with two disorderly persons offenses. One for refusing to get out of the vehicle after she was told she was under arrest, and a summons for not having a child in her care in the proper restraint.
But are passengers required to give their names to a police officer? News 12 asked the American Civil Liberties Union.
“As a general rule, the answer is no,” says the ACLU’s Alex Shalom. “New Jersey does not have a stop and identify law where you’re required to provide your name and identification.”
But Shalom says that someone who is being arrested must provide their name. Also, because Jennings identified herself as the grandmother to the child in the car, she is responsible for the car seat, not the unrelated driver.
“There might be a basis to give her a ticket or the failure to properly restrain the kid and if that’s true, then the officer would arguably have a right to demand ID,” Shalom says.
As for Jennings, she was left with a swollen knee and a limp. She plans on filing a complaint. She has a court date set for March at which time she plans to fight the charges.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police did not respond to a request for comment.