Video: Verbally abusive officer caught on tape

updated 9/12/2007 5:21:11 PM ET 2007-09-12T21:21:11

A suburban St. Louis police sergeant has been put on unpaid suspension, accused of threatening to invent charges against a driver who caught the exchange on videotape.

The driver, Brett Darrow, 20, recorded Friday’s exchange with Sgt. James Kuehnlein with a dashboard videocamera he installed after past run-ins with police. He posted the video online Saturday.

“I wanted everybody to see that this kind of stuff does happen,” Darrow told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Tuesday’s edition. “I thought if I just go to the chief or whatever, it would just get swept under the rug.”

In the video, Kuehnlein approaches Darrow, who was sitting in a parked car at about 2 a.m. in a commuter lot. Kuehnlein asks for identification.

When Darrow asks whether he did anything wrong, the officer orders him out of the car and begins shouting.

“You want to try me? You want to try me tonight? You think you have a bad night? I will ruin your night. Do you want to try me tonight, young boy?”

Darrow says no.

“Do you want to go to jail for some (expletive) reason I come up with?” the police officer says. Later, Darrow says, “I don’t want any problems, officer.”

After about 10 minutes, Darrow is allowed to go.

Chief criticizes officer's actions on tape
The recording, posted on, brought more than 300 protest calls to St. George Police Chief Scott Uhrig.

“I was very displeased when I saw the actions on the video,” Uhrig said. “My officers are not trained and taught to act like that.”

A listed number could not be found for Kuehnlein for comment.

Uhrig said Kuehnlein stopped to talk to Darrow because police have received reports of thefts from cars in the area. But Uhrig said the officer’s actions and tone were inappropriate.

“Someone either violated the law or they didn’t. You don’t say, I’ll lock you up and then come up with why afterward,” Uhrig said.

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