Amid Police Focus on De-Escalation, Richardson Traffic Stop Provides Lesson

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As police departments focus on de-escalation training across the country, a single traffic stop by a Richardson officer two years ago provides a lesson of how physical confrontations might be avoided.

It happened the night of Dec. 17, 2018.

Richardson officer Parker Winn pulled over a driver, 18-year-old Neco Bonham, explaining he had several lights out.

It started routinely enough, according to videos obtained by NBC 5 through the Texas open records law.

"Hey, how you doing? Do you have a driver's license and insurance with you?" the officer asked as he approached the driver’s window.

“No sir," Bonham responded.

Bonham, now 20, said he expected to get a ticket for driving without a license.

He continued to cooperate and gave the officer his name and date of birth.

Then, the officer requested that he get out of the pickup.

"Do me a favor. Hop out for me real quick,” Winn said.

Bonham unbuckled his seatbelt and opened the door but then stopped.

“May I ask why?” Bonham asked.

Bonham later explained he felt scared.

The officer again instructed him to get out.

“I’m not going to ask you again,” Winn said.

Officer Winn tried to grab him.

"He kind of lunged for me, and I kind of moved off to the side and he jumped back and was like, 'He punched me. He punched me!"

Winn told fellow officers that Bonham had punched him, but it’s not visible on his body camera.

Bonham immediately protested.

“No I did not,” he said.

Winn pulled out his Taser and attempted to deploy it, but it didn’t work, according to the police report.

Bonham cussed and kicked during a scuffle as officers then threw him to the ground and handcuffed him.

He said he has a lasting shoulder injury.

"I automatically snapped,” Bonham said. “I wish I wouldn't have."

Bonham, who now works installing solar panels, said as a young Black man, he has no problem with police in general.

"I don't have negative thoughts about the police,” he said. “I personally believe all police officers just want to make it home at the end of the day."

That night, Bonham was arrested for assaulting an officer and spent about a week in jail before his family was able to bond him out.

After reviewing the video, the Dallas County District Attorney dropped the case.

Shawn Barlow, Bonham's defense attorney and a former police officer, said Winn should have paused and continued talking instead of getting physical.

"He's (Bonham) merely asking questions,” Barlow said. “This wasn't somebody who was combative or fighting with them. It's a young kid that wants to know why he's being asked out of the car. So it's a lesson for everybody involved."

As for the officer, records obtained by NBC 5 show Winn was ordered to get refresher training in de-escalation and received a written reprimand for not simply answering Bonham's question about why he had to get out of the vehicle.

Bonham says if the officer would have answered, he would have gotten out on his own.

"Of course, of course,” Bonham said. “I would have had no hesitation."

Bonham now has a new attorney and filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit claims Bonham was the victim of excessive force and was also later assaulted by jail guards in the Richardson city jail.

The suit also claims Winn lied about the initial reason for the traffic stop, using as evidence the department’s own video to show the lights on the vehicle appeared to be working properly.

Richardson police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Perlich declined to comment on the case.

"It could have been handled in a lot better fashion than it was handled,” Bonham said. “On both sides. On the police officer's side and my side as well."

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