Maryland sheriff outraged after Dem councilman interferes with traffic stop of Black driver
The Federalist columnist Eddie Scarry with reaction on 'Fox & Friends First.'
Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, a Republican, put Democratic county Councilman Kai Hagen on blast Wednesday, accusing the Democrat of putting a sheriff's deputy in danger by interfering in a routine traffic stop 10 days prior.
"The actions of Councilman Hagen were unlawful, totally inappropriate, unnecessary, and created both an officer safety issue and traffic safety issue," Jenkins wrote in an email to County Executive Jan Gardner and the council leadership. "His actions created an unnecessary risk to himself, my deputy and other motorists."
"He demonstrated a complete disregard for the safety of anyone involved, and disregard for the law," the letter continues.
The pair got into it with each other during a Wednesday radio interview, with Jenkins calling Hagen’s actions "outrageous" and asking, "Who the hell does he think he is?"
"My wife and I were driving up Route 15," Hagen said after calling in. "We noticed that a deputy was pulling over a car that wasn't speeding, so we didn't know what that was all about, and obviously it could be a lot of different things. And as we drove past ... we noticed that it was a Black driver."
"I was polite to him, and we left as soon as one very basic question was answered," Hagen said, also saying his car was mostly on the road but "ever so slightly" off.
Hagan, who has served as a councilman since 2018, said in the interview that he wasn’t "saying that the deputy did anything wrong" before going after Jenkins during the call.
"...You don't believe that there's any such thing as systemic racism in — not only Frederick County but law enforcement in the United States," Hagen said.
"That's correct. I do not," Jenkins retorted. "If there's a racist on the line, it's you, my friend."
"Hagen, you had absolutely no business to interfere with the lawful duties of a deputy," Jenkins excoriated Hagen. "He made a traffic stop based on a violation, a clear violation. It was none of your concern to start with."
According to Jenkins’ email complaint, the deputy stopped the motorist — who was Black — the night of June 20 with probable cause because the driver’s "vehicle was bearing a trailer tag."
"As the deputy was communicating with the vehicle driver requesting license, registration and related documents he noticed and realized that a silver four-door sedan had stopped in the southbound lane of Rt. 806 parallel to his traffic stop," the complaint says.
"The deputy had to divert his attention from the stop to the silver vehicle when he heard the male driver say, ‘I’m going to sit here until you’re done to insure this is a safe stop’ (something close)," the letter continues. "The deputy looked and immediately recognized the driver as Councilman Kai Hagen."
The deputy told Hagen to leave, saying he already knew who he was and that his car was in the road and could obstruct traffic.
Hagan refused, instead throwing his silver sedan into reverse and nestling himself in the shoulder of the road, only leaving after the driver told the councilman he was OK.
"The driver of the stopped vehicle then told the deputy ‘that was the weirdest thing man!’" the letter says. "This was a highly unusual situation creating a number of unnecessary risks during the stop."
The driver ended up getting two warnings from the stop.
Jenkins wrote that Hagen’s actions "were obstructing, interfering, and hindering" to the deputy’s police duties during the stop, and that the councilman’s disobedience to the deputy "collectively warranted citations or even the arrest of Hagen for his interference."
"I understand that there is probably very little that can be done by the council through any formal action. However, I will be calling for him to step down from his office as County Councilman," Jenkins ended the letter. "This inexcusable action by Hagen and total disregard for the law and the safety of all involved, demonstrate that he is unfit to serve as a council member and would make anyone question his judgement and decision making ability."
When asked if Hagen had apologized for the incident, Jenkins told Fox News in a Friday email that the councilman "has not apologized and has no intention of apologizing to the deputy for his actions."
"His actions were illegal (violating laws and traffic articles), interfered with the lawful actions of my deputy, and created a dangerous situation by placing the safety of that deputy and everyone else in jeopardy," Jenkins said. "Hagen should never have intervened in the stop whatsoever."
Jenkins said his deputy's "very first immediate thought" when seeing Hagen's sedan roll up was "ambush" and that by turning the deputy's attention away from the stopped driver Hagen potentially created "more risk."
"Hagen has no concept of the dangerous situation he created," Jenkins excoriated the councilman. "What is worse is that Hagen admitted that the only reason he stopped is because it was a Black driver stopped by a White deputy. That is clearly the action of a racist."
The sheriff said Hagen does not have "any good judgement and is unfit to serve" in his elected position or any other elected office.
"This is the action of the progressive left to drive more of a wedge between law enforcement and the public we serve," Jenkins said. "He is clearly opposed to any law enforcement."
Hagen is looking to succeed Gardner as county executive come 2022. He did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.