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Facebook video shows cop saying 'eye contact' is reason to stop driver

Why do some people now automatically film the police during traffic stops? A video of an Ohio police officer stopping a black driver adds one more piece of evidence.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


John Felton, accused of making direct eye contact with a police officer.

Fox45 screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

How many drivers when stopped by a police officer now reach for their phones to film what happens?

It seems to be a natural reaction for many. People want to preserve their own evidence, just in case.

This seems to be a true of a video posted by John Felton to Facebook (beware of strong language in the video). It shows Felton, who is black, stopped by a Dayton, Ohio police officer two weeks ago. Felton says on the video that he is being stopped for no reason.

The officer explains: "Your turn signal, your turn signal was on, but you didn't turn it on 100 feet prior."

It takes some skill of measurement to know when 100 feet isn't, say, 98 feet. Still, Felton appears to maintain a level of politeness, despite clearly feeling aggrieved.

He tells the officer he has activated his camera: "I watched you behind me the whole time, that's why I got my video camera on, too." He says he was followed for two miles.

While Felton explains to his passenger that he expected this to happen, the officer demands his license and insurance and his passenger's ID too.

Felton insists to the officer: "I am doing nothing, because I have Michigan plates, other than that why are you trailing me."

But it's the officer's words of explanation that some might find stunning. He says: "You made direct eye contact with me and held onto it when I was passing you."

This seems to enjoy the same level of logic as that offered by an Iowa officer who declared that the presence of frisbee golf equipment in someone's car is evidence of pot smoking. Yes, he was filmed too.

The Dayton Police Department wasn't immediately available for comment.

However, it said in a statement on Friday that it had reviewed video which allegedly confirmed that Felton had signaled less than 100 feet before turning. However, it added: "Making direct eye contact with an officer is not a basis for a traffic stop."

Which might be a relief for some Ohioans.

The statement also said that Felton has agreed to a meeting with the police department with a mediator present.

Felton told Fox45 in Ohio: "I am not your stereotypical black male that a lot of people have in mind. For me it's awareness that this stuff still happens in 2015." And it's that awareness that made him film the encounter and then post it.

Tensions between the black community and the police show no signs of abating. The fatal and brutal shooting of a white deputy in Houston and the subsequent linking of this to the "black lives matter" movement by the Harris County Sheriff is one more example.

However, the protection that cell phones and in-car video cameras offer is being reached for by many because they're not quite sure what might happen. Equally, the police are experimenting all the more with body cameras.

It seems that both civilians and the police have decided they must maintain direct technological eye contact on each other at all times.