Body-cam footage from an April traffic stop appears to show two Georgia cops using a coin-toss phone app to decide whether they'd arrest a driver for speeding in the rain. The officers, Courtney Brown and Kristee Wilson of the Roswell Police Department, wound up ignoring the results of the coin toss and following ordinary police procedure. But the very idea of leaving such a weighty choice up to chance has led to a national controversy.
The footage—first reported by the Atlanta station 11 Alive—shows Brown approaching Sarah Webb's car. Webb tells Brown that she was speeding because she was late to work. Brown replies that speeding in wet conditions means that she'd likely receive a reckless driving charge. Brown then goes back to the cruiser, where Wilson is waiting. After noting that Webb does not have any speeding tickets, the pair pul up a coin toss app on Brown's phone:
Wilson: A [arrest] head, R [release] tail.
Brown: OK. (sound of coin flip, laugh)
Wilson: This is tail, right?
Brown: "Yeah. So release?"
Wilson: 23. (code for arrest)
Brown: Michael Jordan? (laugh) All right, so I've got too fast (laugh) for conditions, reckless...
Though the coin toss' result meant that Webb would have gone free, Brown and Wilson decided to follow through with the arrest anyway. Brown returned to Webb's vehicle, arrested Webb for reckless driving, and then placed her in the back of the cruiser.
Webb didn't learn about the coin toss until 11 Alive contacted her months later about the video. The charges against Webb were thrown out shortly before the video was made available to the public; the prosecutor reportedly refused to prosecute the case after watching the body camera footage.
Police Chief Rusty Grant released a statement via Facebook the day after the incident became viral. Grant said he was "appalled that any law enforcement officer would trivialize the decision-making process of something as important as the arrest of a person." Roswell Mayor Lori Henry also criticized the officers' actions on Facebook, calling the behavior "inexcusable and unprofessional."
Henry also asked her constituents to have faith in an investigation being conducted by the department's Office of Professional Standards. Brown and Wilson have been placed on administrative duty while the investigation continues. Since the officers appear to allude in the footage to the tactic being used previously, 11 Alive reporters are looking into whether there's a larger story here.
11 Alive has also posted a longer, 23-minute video to provide more context.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via YouTube/11Alive