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Alachua County, Gainesville Leaders Discuss Controversy Over Gainesville Traffic Stop

ASO posted a video of the traffic stop with a statement on Facebook.
ASO posted a video of the traffic stop with a statement on Facebook.

Updated, Aug. 10, 2018 at 8:57 a.m.: Traffic citations issued in June against an 18-year-old Alachua County driver — ticketed by the sheriff' s office in a case that went viral — have been dismissed.

Judge Walter Green dismissed the traffic infractions and the $449 in fines and court costs associated with them. Keyon Young had been stopped after a deputy said he was speeding through a school zone near Hidden Oak Elementary. Video showed him not complying with deputies' orders to exit the car, and they had to forcibly remove him.

His mother arrived at the scene and said deputies used too much force, but the sheriff's office said the deputies violated no protocols.

Updated, June 14, 2018 at 6:10 p.m.: The spokesman for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Brett Rhodenizer said on Thursday that the driver did have a valid Georgia license but it is suspended. According to Rhodenizer, the deputies initially thought Young didn’t have a valid license, because instead of providing it he showed them his Florida ID card.

On Thursday, Sheriff Sadie Darnell met with the driver's mother, Chanae Jackson-Baker, behind closed doors. The sheriff and Ms. Baker released individual statements after the meeting and spoke to the media.

Original story:

The Alachua County commission and Gainesville city commission discussed during a joint meeting on Wednesday an incident that happened earlier in the morning with an 18-year-old driver.

Sheriff's deputies on Wednesday morning stopped 18-year-old Keyon Young in Gainesville for an expired tag and driving 40 MPH in a school zone. The deputy, using a loud-speaker, asked Young to step out of his vehicle, but the driver remained inside the car while speaking to his mother on the phone.

The video of the incident, posted on Alachua County Sheriff's Facebook page, shows one deputy pulling the driver out of the car, while another is pointing a taser at him. After the driver was handcuffed, the deputies asked him questions and charged him with a first degree misdemeanor for resisting an officer without violence.

His mother, Chanae Jackson-Baker, spoke at the joint meeting last night. "I thought he was going to be killed because it escalated and he was not aggressive," said Jackson-Baker during the meeting. "How did you educate the community that you changed the policy?" she added later, talking about deputies' request for the driver to leave the car.

"I told the officer I feel like you did that to us because we look a kind of way, " she said.

"This entire traffic stop went left and it didn’t have to go left. All he was trying to do was attain an understanding."

The incident has sparked a discussion about whether the driver was treated in a certain way on the basis of race.

"I want to say that as a brown person, I know all too well what driving while black means," said Gainesville city commissioner Gail Johnson. "And no matter what happens, if there is a police car next to me, no matter what, I start sweating and I try to figure out what my next move is going to be. That is the reality of being black in America."

Johnson was elected to city commission earlier this year, as was Gigi Simmons, marking the first election in city history in which voters elected two black women.

"It's very disheartening, particularly as a woman of color, a woman who has two sons, and also as a woman put in a position of leadership by her peers... Enough is enough. This is 2018, and for that young man to have to come in here, you can tell how distraught he was when he was telling his story. The city of Gainesville and Alachua County, we need to do better," Simmons said.

Mike Byerly from Alachua County commission responded: "...if what is described actually happened that way, we should stand together and condemn it, but we should not take any positions until we know what happened because there's always another side. So, I'd like to find out before we indicate to the public at large that we as a body are outraged."

ASO responded to the ongoing discussion by posting a video of the traffic stop with a statement on Facebook.

"There is speculation and accusations that this was differential treatment based on race. There is no room for that behavior in law enforcement or our community, and we have opened an Office of Professional Standards (also sometimes called “Internal Affairs”) inquiry to determine if there was any inappropriate action by our employees," reads the post.

After the incident, Young was given a citation for speeding, driving without a valid driver's license and a sworn complaint was filed for resisting without violence. According to court records, Young will have to pay a total of $449 for the driving violations.

Amy Nelson is a reporter for WUFT News. She can be reached at news@wuft.org or 352-392-6397.