Lawyer: What Drivers Should Do During a Traffic Stop

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A recent traffic stop by Des Moines Police Officers Kevin Thies and Natalie Heinemann is currently under review after driver Montray Little and passenger Jared Clinton filed a complaint.

This incident has raised questions about what motorists should do during a traffic stop.

The Iowa State Patrol has an information sheet about what to do when you get pulled over by law enforcement and that’s what Attorney Robert Rehkemper said he follows when advising a client.

“Well you have to be polite first of all. Announce the movements that you’re going to be making, that’s always beneficial. Be responsive to their requests and maintain your composure the best that you can,” Rehkemper said.

Rehkemper said it’s also important to be still until the officer requests something from you and keep your hands visible.

“So if you were to just get out of your car when law enforcement stops you, they’re going to have a problem with that. So what you want to do is you wait, if they are asked to get out of the car, as the driver, you are required to exit the vehicle,” Rehkemper said.

In the traffic stop on July 15, the officer did not state the reason for the stop, asked Little and the passenger to get out of the car, handcuffed Little, searched them both, put Little in the squad car, and searched Little’s car.

“That young man did everything he should have done and was supposed to do and credit to him, maintained his composure, while his rights were being violated,” Rehkemper said.

Rehkemper said you are not obligated to allow police to search your vehicle and you have the right to say no.

“They had no consent to search you notice the officer at the end trying to say it smells a little bit like weed. There’s some questionable authority under Iowa law that would allow law enforcement or could allow law enforcement to search, but there was nothing discovered which makes you question, was there truly an odor or was that and excuse the officer was giving to try to root through the car?” Rehkemper said.

The passenger’s mom agrees they did everything they were supposed to do.

“They were so mature the whole time. I mean they were very respectful to these officers. Even at the end, they shook their hands and told them to be careful out there. They were so professional and so mannerable. I don’t understand how they were able to keep it together, but I was proud,” Laural Clinton said.

View the body camera video of this traffic stop here.

“I think it’s important to understand that the young men in the situation did everything right, they were compliant, they were respectful and they maintained their truth. But most importantly, they said something about it afterwards because if people don’t speak up about these situations nothing gets done about it. And if nothing gets done about it they continue,” Rehkemper said.