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Montpelier, VT - DASHCAM Video: Vermont Police Probe Says No Evidence Of Bias When Brooklyn Rabbi Was Stopped

Published on: September 30, 2017 08:58 PM
By: AP
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In this Aug. 8, 2017, still frame from dashboard camera video released by the Vermont State Police, Trooper Justin Thompson, left, detains driver Rabbi Berl Fink, while a second officer, right, detains passenger Rabbi Eli Fink, both of of Brooklyn, N.Y., during a traffic stop in Thetford, Vt. APIn this Aug. 8, 2017, still frame from dashboard camera video released by the Vermont State Police, Trooper Justin Thompson, left, detains driver Rabbi Berl Fink, while a second officer, right, detains passenger Rabbi Eli Fink, both of of Brooklyn, N.Y., during a traffic stop in Thetford, Vt. AP

Montpelier, VT - A Vermont state police trooper who pursued and pulled over a speeding New York City rabbi and ordered him at gunpoint to lie on the ground and then with other police handcuffed the rabbi’s family has been cleared of wrongdoing.

State police and the Department of Public Safety commissioner performed an investigation of the nighttime traffic stop and found “there was no evidence from the investigation to suggest his actions were based on any type of bias or profiling,” according to a statement they issued Friday.

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The investigation found it was so dark the trooper couldn’t see details of the vehicle’s occupants before trying to pull it over.

Trooper Justin Thompson clocked a vehicle behind him going at 83 mph (134 kph) in a 65 mph (105 kph) zone on Interstate 91 in Thetford on Aug. 8, the investigation said. Thompson pulled over and put on his lights. Once the vehicle passed he tried to pull it over with his lights and siren, but the driver failed to stop for 4.5 miles.

After the car pulled over, police dashboard video released Friday shows, the trooper shouted from his cruiser for driver Berl Fink to get out and walk backward with his hands up. The trooper, who was holding a gun, ordered Fink to lie on the ground.

Thompson decided to initiate a “high-risk motor vehicle stop” because he was in a rural area late at night with no immediate backup nearby, the vehicle had failed to stop, the occupants’ actions were suspicious and the vehicle had been speeding, the investigation said.

In this Aug. 8, 2017, still frame from dashboard camera video released by the Vermont State Police, Trooper Justin Thompson, left, points his weapon at a car that had been driven by Rabbi Berl Fink, of of Brooklyn, N.Y., during a traffic stop in Thetford, Vt.In this Aug. 8, 2017, still frame from dashboard camera video released by the Vermont State Police, Trooper Justin Thompson, left, points his weapon at a car that had been driven by Rabbi Berl Fink, of of Brooklyn, N.Y., during a traffic stop in Thetford, Vt.

In such a stop, officers are trained to order the driver and passengers out of the vehicle and to have their guns drawn, the statement said.

During the stop, a passenger, Fink’s son, tried to get out of the vehicle, and Thompson ordered him to stay inside. Once backup police arrived, Fink’s son was ordered out of the vehicle and was told to walk backward but failed to do so and walked to a guardrail. He was pushed against the car and was handcuffed.

Two other passengers, Fink’s wife, Sarah Fink, and another child, also were handcuffed.

Sarah Fink told the New York Post the ordeal was “traumatizing.”

“I tell you, there was brutality,” she said. “He was pointing guns.”

Berl Fink told the trooper he didn’t realize he was speeding. He said once he suspected he was being pulled over he was looking for a safe place to pull off the interstate.

Fink, who’s from Brooklyn, was cited for attempting to elude police. He’s scheduled for a court appearance on Oct. 18.

In this Aug. 8, 2017, still frame from dashboard camera video released by the Vermont State Police, Trooper Justin Thompson, right, watches driver Rabbi Berl Fink, of Brooklyn, N.Y., read a citation during a traffic stop in Thetford, Vt.In this Aug. 8, 2017, still frame from dashboard camera video released by the Vermont State Police, Trooper Justin Thompson, right, watches driver Rabbi Berl Fink, of Brooklyn, N.Y., read a citation during a traffic stop in Thetford, Vt.


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Read Comments (36)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 30, 2017 at 09:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Not happy with police explanation for traumatizing a family. Crazy!

2

 Sep 30, 2017 at 09:22 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

I am a big fan of police cameras.

3

 Sep 30, 2017 at 09:22 PM Anonymous Says:

That's obvious. Even from the woman's own account they yelled at him to exit at gunpoint before they saw who it was. Yeah you're driving like you're in Boro park and ignore a cops lights and sirens you get pulled over and treated with suspension. No one cares if you're a Hasidic Jew. Great job by this family for dropping the race card and great job to al hikind for picking up this nonissue and making us all bad.

4

 Sep 30, 2017 at 09:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Why did they have to handcuff the wife and daughter? The whole thing stinks!

5

 Sep 30, 2017 at 10:21 PM fashedenagrintzin Says:

look at the bright side....if this yid was black the cop would have shot him...This chilul Hashem causing shmuck should count his blessings & stop being a qvetch!

6

 Sep 30, 2017 at 10:33 PM The Professor Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

That's obvious. Even from the woman's own account they yelled at him to exit at gunpoint before they saw who it was. Yeah you're driving like you're in Boro park and ignore a cops lights and sirens you get pulled over and treated with suspension. No one cares if you're a Hasidic Jew. Great job by this family for dropping the race card and great job to al hikind for picking up this nonissue and making us all bad.

Where in Boro Park can you drive at 83 mph? Not in this lifetime...

Unfortunately, some people believe that speed limits and things like stopping your car in the middle of the street in order to have a chat with a friend while traffic backs up behind you all fall into the category of "uvechukosaihem lo sailaichu." No thoughts about the chillul HaShem that is created. We've just gone through the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. We can still improve ourselves....

7

 Sep 30, 2017 at 10:42 PM Miriam377 Says:

He moved over for a flashing police car. NYS Law requires that you move over.

8

 Sep 30, 2017 at 10:52 PM cowdoc Says:

Man is speeding, does not stop.
It is night and policeman is alone.
Car finally stops.
Policeman does not know who is in the car.
Policeman approaches car with drawn weapon to protect himself.
What should he have done differently?

9

 Sep 30, 2017 at 10:55 PM Anonymous Says:

Somebody pointing a gun at you in a dark area does not make you think straight.
I understand not walking up to the car. But this was over kill. When he saw the husband it was not necessary to handcuff the wife etc. If it was a black guy and he was forced to the ground there would be a protest next day

10

 Sep 30, 2017 at 10:59 PM hershel Says:

Just regular police protocol. Lovely.

11

 Sep 30, 2017 at 10:59 PM savtat Says:

Maybe the stop prevented a bad accident..... 83 mph is not safe on a dark road. being handcuffed isn't fun, but maybe the cop didn't know we are non violent.

12

 Sep 30, 2017 at 11:04 PM judith Says:

Cops doing their job, unlike in Brooklyn, where people get away with dangerous traffic violations every day!

13

 Sep 30, 2017 at 11:41 PM FBF37 Says:

Bottom line is once you drive 4 miles with lights and sirens blaring, and not stopping then you become a very big suspect! It's unfortunate but what do you expect the cops to do in a situation like this?

14

 Oct 01, 2017 at 12:09 AM Crazykanoiy Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

Somebody pointing a gun at you in a dark area does not make you think straight.
I understand not walking up to the car. But this was over kill. When he saw the husband it was not necessary to handcuff the wife etc. If it was a black guy and he was forced to the ground there would be a protest next day

yeh, and if it was a black guy probably almost everyone would be defending the cops.

In any case, it seems pretty clear that cop followed protocol in this case.

15

 Oct 01, 2017 at 01:31 AM Tee123 Says:

Reply to #8  
cowdoc Says:

Man is speeding, does not stop.
It is night and policeman is alone.
Car finally stops.
Policeman does not know who is in the car.
Policeman approaches car with drawn weapon to protect himself.
What should he have done differently?

Not be so aggressive when he sees whose in the car. And not to arrest the underage 16 year old daughter. Their was no reason for it if he was just speeding.

16

 Oct 01, 2017 at 01:33 AM Normal Says:

Reply to #8  
cowdoc Says:

Man is speeding, does not stop.
It is night and policeman is alone.
Car finally stops.
Policeman does not know who is in the car.
Policeman approaches car with drawn weapon to protect himself.
What should he have done differently?

The story clearly states what happened, I don't understand why it needs to be explained further. Perhaps the family shouldn't have been speeding and should have stopped before 4.5 miles. Lucky they weren't shot.

17

 Oct 01, 2017 at 02:14 AM ayinglefunadorf Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

Why did they have to handcuff the wife and daughter? The whole thing stinks!

Jewish Lives Matter. Now we know what white officers do to the Blacks. B"H the finks are alive.

18

 Oct 01, 2017 at 02:16 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
hershel Says:

Just regular police protocol. Lovely.

"Just regular police protocol" only if you are Jewish, Black or Mexican. Welcome to Trumpland.

19

 Oct 01, 2017 at 02:18 AM Jew lover Arab hater Says:

First, as a woman we are taught do not stop on a dark road, but call 911 & let them know you are being asked to pull over & ask the operator to verify it's a police officer & not an ill seeker/doer. Second, there was absolutely no reason to handcuff a child passenger in a driving incident.

20

 Oct 01, 2017 at 02:18 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

Somebody pointing a gun at you in a dark area does not make you think straight.
I understand not walking up to the car. But this was over kill. When he saw the husband it was not necessary to handcuff the wife etc. If it was a black guy and he was forced to the ground there would be a protest next day

"if it was a black guy there would be a protest next day" So lets protest together with the blacks. There is power in numbers. Jewish Lives Matter

21

 Oct 01, 2017 at 02:28 AM Anonymous Says:

B"H
Thank G-d no one was CH"VS shot or tased.
Police should not pull over in such dark areas that they feel need to draw guns and threaten family.
Note to everyone if you are not pulling over because it's not safe you should put on 4 way flasher/hazard to show officer you acknowledge he us trying to pull you over and you should call 911 to let them know. The 911 dispatcher will radio trooper so he knows whats going on.
I believe 100% Finks felt not safe to pull over on side of rode with ditch sloping down. You can see on the video they pulled over when got to area w guardrail.
As far as protocol the Rabbi was forced to lie down on ground in the rain. Really not necessary.

22

 Oct 01, 2017 at 02:57 AM Black Guy Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

Somebody pointing a gun at you in a dark area does not make you think straight.
I understand not walking up to the car. But this was over kill. When he saw the husband it was not necessary to handcuff the wife etc. If it was a black guy and he was forced to the ground there would be a protest next day

"If it was a black guy" Sorry President Trump said: "Don't be nice to them" them? includes Yiden. He didn't specify black only. He said this to Thousands of Policemen in Long Island. The Police just followed the POTUS advice. I wonder if this family voted for him. They shouldn't complain if they did.

23

 Oct 01, 2017 at 03:02 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
savtat Says:

Maybe the stop prevented a bad accident..... 83 mph is not safe on a dark road. being handcuffed isn't fun, but maybe the cop didn't know we are non violent.

"Cop didn't know we are non violent." Who is "We"? Read the whole article. Its standard procedure. How should the Police know who is violent? If you drive 5 miles after the Police Sirens/Lights he will assume the worst of you. If only Muslims are violent like some here thinks, crime would drop 98% in the USA.

24

 Oct 01, 2017 at 03:55 AM Driving Jew Says:

This was straight protocol, there are cops killed every year making stops like this. You just don’t know what your getting yourself into until the person is in cuffs. You noticed the difference in the cops tone/behavior once they were handcuffed, and no they never handcuffed the women once they deemed they were no threat. Enough using the anti-Semite card!

25

 Oct 01, 2017 at 06:44 AM georgeg Says:

I am not familiar with the latest gadgets, but the language of the article makes it sound like the police car was driving in front of the civilian vehicle and this moving police car was clocking the car behind it at 83 mph? Wouldn't that mean that the civilian vehicle would crash right into the police car unless the police car itself was going at least 83 mph?

26

 Oct 01, 2017 at 06:54 AM jason Says:

4.5 miles?!?! Back in the day the police would of issued a beat down on anyone who did this. No excessive force, police officer would be stupid to approach without gun drawn. This is protocol taught in all academies.

27

 Oct 01, 2017 at 07:59 AM FBF37 Says:

Reply to #11  
savtat Says:

Maybe the stop prevented a bad accident..... 83 mph is not safe on a dark road. being handcuffed isn't fun, but maybe the cop didn't know we are non violent.

..."but maybe the cop didn't know we are non violent." Maybe 30 years that was true. Have you not watched the news lately in EY??

28

 Oct 01, 2017 at 08:28 AM Nachum Says:

I was disgusted at the initial reports of this incident; however, I was more disgusted after seeing the dashcam video, and realizing how Rabbi Beryl Fink falsely reported this story, and falsely raised the issue of ethnic bias, when it never existed. First of all, Fink and his family claimed that he was doing between 55-65 mph. The state trooper (according to communications on his two way radio from the video), stated that he was clocked with radar, at 83 mph. What meshuganah goes 18 mph over the speed limit, on a two way rural highway, at night? By Fink's own admission, he stated that he couldn't see very well at night, and that was why he hesitated to initially pull off to the soft shoulder. I saw the shoulder from the video, and there was adequate room, for him to have initially pulled his car over to the right very quickly, instead of leading the trooper on a 4.5 mile chase. In addition, the trooper was very professional, and treated the Rabbi with courtesy. He was even more respectful than NYPD cops are, when they pull cars over. I'm afraid that the Rabbi brought this incident on himself, and falsely reported anti-semitism, when it never existed. Dov Hikind erred, also.

29

 Oct 01, 2017 at 08:44 AM long island bubby Says:

I watched the video. The Trooper was correct in his actions. When a police car flashes lights at you, YOU DO NOT speed up, you slow down, signal and pull over. And when he told the son to stay in the car, the son ignored him and got out, then, when the Trooper told him to put his hands up (remember the Trooper was alone, on a dark road, will a full car) he DID NOT, he just sauntered to the barrier !!

What is wrong with these people? These laws are to protect us & we want Troopers to stop questionalble drivers and that is exactly what he did.

Chilul Ha'Shem - don't make this into a bias incident, it is a "STUPIDLY" incident.

30

 Oct 01, 2017 at 10:41 AM Possible signs of early dementia Says:

This story is interesting from a number of viewpoints. One thing that stood out to me was the way Mr Fink behaved both in terms of not stopping right away and in terms of hesitating when asked his age. This may indicate that he is suffering some early symptoms of dementia that are impacting his decision making and cognition. What also stands out is that although the police clearly acted professionally, there was one major shortcoming. The officer should have had a car that is equipped with a loud speaker as in NYC, which would have allowed the officer to convey clear orders to pull over right away and thus avoiding the whole unpleasant incident. The story also demonstrates the new climate of Hyper Vigilance, Hyper Policing, and Police Militarization, which now elevates small crimes into big crimes with the potential for misunderstanding and police shootings of citizens who are only guilty of a minor traffic offense. We have to be vigilant of the creeping police state tactics that are increasingly eroding liberty and freedom under the guise of public safety.

31

 Oct 01, 2017 at 11:09 AM Anonymous Says:

after viewing the police dash cam video in its entirety ive come to the same conclusion as the officials in vermont this officer did nothing wrong was just following protocol stopping a vehicle with 4 occupants on a deserted road in middle of the night chasing him for 4 miles before him finally pulling over
our knee jerk reaction is to pull out the anti semite card but if we cry wolf too often no one will listen when it actually is anti semitism .
though i am surprised at DOV HIKIND for not doing his homework and viewing the video before demanding an investigation and using the anti semite card. hes been around for awhile and knows that what some view as anti semitism in our community may not have been the intentions of the officers involved as evidenced when watching this video
its mind boggling on the part of the driver who kept driving ignoring the cop
if hes been driving since he's 17 he should know that ignoring orders of a police officer is like waiving red in front of a bull and will definitely escalate the original call as we all saw on the video
hopefully everyone who saw the video will take a lesson never ever ignore a police officer

32

 Oct 01, 2017 at 01:09 PM Anonymous Says:

In addition to not knowing his age and weight right away, the driver hesitated about getting back into his car, and was lingering outside the driver door. That was not smart, as he could have been struck by a passing car. In fact, just before the video ended, one of the cops can be heard telling the driver to go into the car.

Regarding the loudspeaker suggestion, I think that sirens and flashing lights should suffice. The loudspeaker is only good at close range; however, it might prevent cops from straining their voices.

To #24- If you'd look at the video again, you will clearly see that both females were also handcuffed. I don't think that the cop would have acted so aggressively, if that incompetent driver had stopped immediately, as he saw the police car to begin with. Also, he failed to put on his hazard blinking lights; he only left his right directional light on. He had to be nuts to be traveling so fast on a dark, rural, two lane highway at night. It was not a four lane interstate highway.

I blame VIN and Dov Hikind for sensationalizing this story, before all of the facts were out.

33

 Oct 01, 2017 at 01:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

That's obvious. Even from the woman's own account they yelled at him to exit at gunpoint before they saw who it was. Yeah you're driving like you're in Boro park and ignore a cops lights and sirens you get pulled over and treated with suspension. No one cares if you're a Hasidic Jew. Great job by this family for dropping the race card and great job to al hikind for picking up this nonissue and making us all bad.

Thanks, Yonasonw, ever the defender of anti-frum everything!

34

 Oct 01, 2017 at 03:04 PM POLAND1 Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Not happy with police explanation for traumatizing a family. Crazy!

To be fair.
Rabbi fink has a valid point, If you pay close attention, while rabbi fink is being questioned why he did not pull over at first, He makes his argument that he saw the lights flashing {EVEN BEFORE HE CHANGED BACK TO THE RIGHT LANE}
Which is a very important factor, For a driver it can truly be very confusing at the first few moments, And to be honest the Trooper didn’t fallow his proper training either (ONLY FROM THE BEGINNING) Because he is required to put on his lights only after a 2-3 hundred feet of tailgating, to inform a driver that he means directly him.

(Note) Rabbi fink is not a 2 year old, he is a highly respected figure in our community, its unfortunate what happened,
The truth of the matter is that thank goodness by us אחינו בני ישראל its not a often scene to watch such horrific episode.

Rabbi fink can even (Bantch Gomel,} Because all you need to do is Google police car chase, and you will totally understand how things sometimes end,

35

 Oct 01, 2017 at 02:18 PM Renegade Says:

Officer did nothing wrong (technically) but is an idiot for not realizing that the guy was looking for a safe place to pull over.

36

 Oct 02, 2017 at 12:07 PM Ina Says:

I think Rabbi Fink should consider taking an attorney with him to court. No doubt, the judge will have heard about the anti-semitism allegation and it can't go down well for him inasmuch as the video shows he was speeding and the officers were following protocol. Counsel will be able to explain how frightened the family was, the dilemma they faced in finding a safe place to stop etc. Rabbi Fink should also apologize to the court and put this unfortunate incident behind them.

37

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