Video footage of New York County Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky (D) getting pulled over for speeding a few months ago has just been released, and it’s creating quite a stir online. The police dashcam video of the incident shows an agitated Berky facing off against a calm and collected officer Gary Short, but her antics are unprofessional and slightly amusing.
The incident occurred in the Town of Ulster shortly before 7 p.m. on May 24. The video is described here by Hudson Valley One:
The tape shows Short approaching Berky’s Prius in the Aldi’s parking lot after following her for about a quarter-mile from the intersection of Ulster Avenue and Morton Boulevard onto Route 9W. On audio she is heard asking the officer why she was being stopped. He tells her it’s for speeding, 43 miles per hour in 30-miles-per-hour zone.
Berky told him she never speeds and was driving with traffic. She said she was headed home to feed her young son and had a job interview in downtown Kingston. Sounding increasingly agitated, she said she could not afford a traffic ticket as it will increase her cost of insurance. She says she was “broke.”
Short went back to his patrol car to write a ticket. Berky stepped out of her car, apparently gasping for air and bent over double. Short returned and inquired about her health. She said she was having “a panic attack.” Short asked whether she wanted medical assistance. She did not reply, but seemed to be breathing better.
Short returned and offered to write a ticket for failure to wear a seatbelt, a much lesser offense than speeding. Berky told him she always wears her seatbelt and refused the offer. Short then wrote the speeding ticket.
As Short issued her the speeding ticket, Berky was heard to say, “I don’t trust you. I don’t feel safe here. Tell me what my rights are. I didn’t understand.”
“I’ve explained everything to you,” Short replied, his voice reflecting exasperation. “I’m not going to argue with you any longer.”
In the tape, Berky informs the officer that she’s a county legislator and hyperventilates as she explains her plight, cries, begs and behaves in a generally dramatic manner. She accuses the officer of singling her out.
Berky’s lawyers wanted to suppress the dash cam video, claiming it would compromise her chances for a fair trial. The town board voted 4-0 Tuesday night to release the tape. The vote led Berky’s lawyers to cite “unspecified ‘politics’” as the reason for the vote against their request.
According to the report, in private Berkey has claimed that she was harassed by the officer. However, she did not file a complaint.
You may watch the video below (note there is a shortened version and a longer version).
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