And had their Constitutional rights violated for riding in a Lyft taxi that allegedly wasn’t allowed.
After a long business trip, a passenger who goes by Stovie Wan Kenobi on YouTube loaded his belongings in a Lyft taxi and left the airport.
But moments later, airport police officers pulled the taxi over for what appeared to be a traffic stop.
Officer Michael Orlando approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, aggressively alleging that the Lyft taxi was not commissioned to make pickups at the airport.
The officer’s verbal aggression prompted the passenger to begin video recording – almost instantaneously Orlando’s attitude became less aggressive.
But then Orlando tells the passenger that because he is recording, the vehicle must be towed.
“With you recording me, I am going to protect myself, and impound the vehicle,” he said.
Orlando then orders the two men out of the vehicle. The passenger puts his phone in his pocket in record mode and exits the vehicle. An additional officer on the scene who is unidentified takes the passengers phone out of his pocket and stops the phone from recording.
The incident took place September 2, but was uploaded to YouTube on October 22 with the following description:
While waiting on the side of the road with my luggage I was approached by a male and female in “Plain Clothes”. I thought they were Airport Security and they asked me if I was aware I was standing on the side of the road. I informed them that I was completely aware that I was standing on the side of the road while waiting for my ride home. I was exhausted and not in the mood to be bothered by anyone unless they were going to take me home. They asked me who was picking me up. Annoyed by the intrusive questions I quickly replied “MY Girlfriend”. I was not in the mood to continue this conversation. I then asked if it was illegal to stand on the side of the road.
They told me it was illegal. This is obviously not true.
At this point my Taxi showed up and parked a few hundred yards ahead of their vehicle. I bid the individuals questioning me good night, loaded my belongings into the taxi, got in the passenger side seat and began the final leg of my journey home.
The individuals immediately began to follow me in the Taxi, and pulled the driver over. I then realized that these must be police officers that were not in uniform.
The unidentified officer’s actions were a clear violation of the passenger’s Fourth Amendment right, which gives protection against unlawful searches and seizures.
Additionally, the fact that the officer unlawfully turned the recording off, exhibited a violation of the passengers Fourteenth Amendment right which protects any person from being deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
Now, with the camera off, the passenger knew his rights were being violated and asked the officer if what he did was legal.
The officer replied:
“You better fucking believe this is legal. You may be big shit where you are from but you are in my territory and I am king.”
Officer Orlando got in on the action and the officers continued yelling at the two men.
The officers offered to let the driver and passenger go free if the video was deleted, but the passenger rejected the officer’s proposition, claiming extortion.
The officers’ towed the vehicle and eventually let the men go free. If that was not inconvenient enough, the passenger had to go to the police station to retrieve his belongings from the Lyft taxi.
The two men met with a unidentified police supervisor and relayed the situation; it was at that time Officer Orlando denied his extortion attempt.
At the time, Chicago had an ordinance banning ride-sharing companies to pick up passengers from the airport, but on Monday, the city decided to approve such services.
However, that won’t go into effect until 2016, so there is still a chance undercover cops will be prowling the airports to make arrests.