Story of unfair treatment of my black employee by Idaho police: On May 26th, our contract driver Robert Lee White was towing our stack of 4 trailers and 6 raw single pontoons, the same height [11 ft] as our normal stack of 6 trailers, from Baltimore MD to us in Tacoma, WA. As Robert drove through Idaho on I-90 he was stopped by Kootenai County Deputy J. Dooley for passing the boat inspection station Robert was not carrying a boat, he was towing 6 brand new raw pontoons (which are considered boat parts) and 4 stacked brand new boat trailers. He had already passed inspection stations in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.
Officer Dooley then called a Idaho state police K9 officer, Gerry Stemm. About 6-8 am. [Hard to read on the arrest doc.]The K9 officer ran his information and noticed Robert had a warrant from an unpaid ticket less than one month old. Robert had already set up a payment plan for this ticket. Robert was holding a soda can he was drinking when he was asked to step out of the vehicle, and he complied. Once outside the vehicle he set down the soft drink can so on the trailer tongue they could cuff him. He was then arrested.
Robert told the officer that he had a bad shoulder and asked if the officer could cuff him using two cuffs, to give his shoulder relief because he was in a lot of pain due to an injury and being cuffed was very painful. The officer told him that it would not be long and they would be on their way. The officers then searched the vehicle, never even asking for permission, nor did they have a warrant to search. The officers opened everything they could, his personal bags and even boxes of parts for the order he was delivering to us. The officers went through his clothes and even his garbage.
The K9 officer periodically would come over and talk to his dog telling his dog everything was OK. Neither officer checked on Robert during this time, and Robert continued to ask to be put in a pair of handcuffs because of his prior shoulder injury. This was never done.
Robert was charged for 4-5 different minor offenses. One of the fines stated his cup was not secured when they arrested him so it was littering. The officers had him put it down so they could cuff him. The request from the officers to put down his drink came with a $421 fine for littering. He received another $421 fine for having tires worn past the tread marker. I, Alex Williamson, saw the tires on May 27, and while they were worn to the tread marker, they were not bald at all or worn passed the tread marker. He also got a $421 fine for the previous fine a month earlier even though they eventually found the records that he had set up a payment plan.
Robert received other fines, when combined with the above mentioned tickets totaling $1,744. It also cost an additional $393 to get his truck and my trailers/pontoons out of the impound lot. This was all for really nothing, as the officers finally admitted they found paperwork supporting Roberts information about previously setting up a payment plan, and he wasn't late on his payments.
Robert overheard one of the police officers that showed up later, talking to the earlier officers, telling them that they couldn't fine him for littering the pop can as he put it down to get cuffed. Robert was under the impression they would remove that $421 fine for littering, but it was not removed.
When Jennifer, my business operations manager, talked to a woman at the impound lot where they took our trailers. Jennifer stated that this whole thing was racially motivated and uncalled for, and the only reason Robert was pulled over or treated so bad was because he is Black. The impound lot woman confirmed that Jennifer was correct and that Robert wasn't treated right because of his color.
I, Alex Williamson, owner of WORD BOATS.com, have known Robert White for several months. He has delivered several trailer/pontoon loads to our business, picking up the trailer/pontoon loads on the East Coast and delivering them to our business in Washington. Robert has done a good job. He is very quiet, and mild-mannered, and not assertive. Unfortunately he is somewhat used to prejudice against his skin color.
He lives in VA, but must appear in court in ID aug. 4. We have helped him with these costs as it was not fair and we will make sure he delivers us a load about aug. 4 so he can appear without further cost. I hope to appear with him.
I will submit this complaint for investigation by the Idaho Police today. We have now heard of several other cases of discrimination in ID.
It is a continuation of horrible treatment around the USA by a minority of prejudiced people.
p.s. If you read all the police documents I have you do you will notice that the same Kootenai County deputy gave him a ticket a month previous and pulled him over this time and gave him all the tickets and some tickets mentioned warnings from the first time, but Robert didn't understand some of those details, like the requirement to buy a temp permit before entering the state, and I still see no reason for an arrest, searching and impounding his truck and my trailers and citations for littering while he was being arrested ... it was a traffic infraction and he had set up a payment plan which they later acknowledged but they still charged him another $421 as one of the infractions was ignoring the previous infraction. So of course like anything it's complicated.
I have hired well over 100 loads of trailers towed across the country over the last 12 years by over 20 different drivers. Robert was more in compliance with trucking laws on this trip than at least 90% of those drivers. At least 5 of those 20 were stopped and had some consequences imposed on them in Coeur d'Alene, Spokane, or Sheridan WY, and none of them ever had a fine over $400, nor were arrested, searched or towed to impound. Robert’s direct costs were over 2100$ and he was arrested, towed and searched, none of which happened to the 5 or the 20 white drivers I have had.