San Jose Cops Caught Asking Drivers, 'Are There Any Dead Babies In The Car?'

Screenshot: KRON4
Screenshot: KRON4

When you get pulled over, you generally expect the officer to ask for your license and registration. You generally don’t expect to be interrogated over whether or not you’re transporting any children’s corpses. And yet, that’s what an independent audit of the San Jose Police Department found happened at least twice last year, KRON4 reports.

Following up on citizen complaints, the city’s Interim Independent Police Auditor found video evidence of at least two times a police officer asked, “Are there any dead babies in the car?” during traffic stops. One officer reportedly told the auditor that his field training officer encouraged him to ask drivers shocking questions like that to catch them off their guard, “causing a greater likelihood of the listener speaking the truth.”

The use of so-called “shock talk” during traffic stops is already a controversial practice and is officially discouraged at the police academy, during field and other training and in a memo from the police chief. Then again, what’s officially taught and what ends up being encouraged as part of department culture can easily be wildly different.


The audit also highlighted an incident where an officer responded to a call about criminal threats. The person who’d called it in was sitting in a car to stay away from the person allegedly threatening them, and the officer ordered him out of his car. They resisted, and in the officer’s official report, the suspect fled the scene, possibly with a weapon. Footage from their body cam told a different story.

Still, he arrested the man anyway. When asked why that was the case, the officer replied, “We just decided to stop a Black man for no reason, okay?” While the audit didn’t find the officer’s use of force violated policy, the IPA has requested a “bias-based policing” allegation for one of the officers involved, as well as additional training.

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