Right to Remain Silent? Woman Says That Got Her Arrested by NJ Trooper
Dashcam video has been posted of a woman being handcuffed and arrested by a state trooper after she refused to answer questions posed by officers during a traffic stop in Warren County.
In a federal lawsuit, Philadelphia attorney Rebecca Musarra claims her basic right to remain silent was violated during the Oct.16 traffic stop on Route 519 near the Pennsylvania border.
In the video, obtained by NJ Advance Media, Musarra is seen being asked several times by one of the officers if she knew why she was stopped.
"Do you not talk?" the trooper asks her. When she doesn't respond, another officer used a flashlight to knock on the driver's window and warned that she would be arrested if she didn't respond.
After some back-and-forth, during which Musarra said her father is a former county prosecutor and refuses to let go of her cell phone, she is told to get out of the car and is handcuffed.
"Are you detaining me because I refused to speak?" Musarra asks.
"Yeah," the officer says, as he leads her to a patrol car. "Obstruction."
The officer says "it didn't have to go this way," to which she replied "if only I didn't exercise my rights."
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the right to remain silent dates back to two landmark Supreme Court decisions in Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the namesake of the "Miranda rights" that the police are required to inform suspects. Those rights, based on the Fifth Amendment right against incriminating oneself, include the rights to remain silent and to access an attorney.
Musarra's suit said she was handcuffed to a bench while the supervisor reviewed the dashcam. She was ultimately released and told a "mistake had been made" which the officer chalked up on the rookie officer's training.
The state has filed a motion to dismiss the case.