Justified force? Lower Merion traffic stop under investigation

The incident happened at the Wawa parking lot on Conshohocken State Road in Bala Cynwyd on Sunday.

ByChad Pradelli and Cheryl Mettendorf WPVI logo
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Justified force? Lower Merion traffic stop under investigation
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With a gun in hand, a Lower Merion police officer demanded the female driver to keep her window rolled down. At one point the officer threatened to break the window.

LOWER MERION, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Police in Lower Merion, Montgomery County are investigating a controversial traffic stop that ended with a woman being tased.

It happened at the Wawa parking lot on Conshohocken State Road in Bala Cynwyd on Sunday.

"I'll break the window," said the Lower Merion officer. "Keep it down."

With a gun in hand, a Lower Merion police officer demands the female driver to keep her window down. At one point the officer threatens to break the window. Then the unnamed officer tases the driver before taking her into custody.

"I'm horrified, I am still in shock 48 hours out," said Laney Gold-Rappe who recorded the video. "I am embarrassed for my community."

Gold-Rappe said she stopped after she saw the incident escalate while driving by.

"She requested a sergeant. She was staying in her vehicle. But the police officer, one of the three, came to her window with his gun drawn," she added.

But sources inside the Lower Merion Police Department say a sergeant was called, but the initial stop happened a mile away at Conshohocken State Road and Hagys Ford Road.

Police say the driver of the maroon Volvo was tailgating a pickup truck. Both cars pulled over but then drove off as the officer was attempting to get out of his vehicle. The officer went after the maroon vehicle and the driver finally stopped at the Wawa.

Sources say the female driver would not provide her license, which is suspended, and the windows were blacked out with tint, which is why the officer wanted the window down.

"Bad actions on both sides," said David Rudovsky, a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania who teaches criminal law.

He said both the driver and police were at fault. He said the driver appeared combative and uncooperative, but he questioned the use of the taser.

"Sure she is not being cooperative, but what is the use of the taser?" he asked. "You can certainly get her out of the car without that and do what you have to do."

Police told Action News the driver of that vehicle was taken to Lankenau Medical Center for an existing condition but was uninjured in the incident.

The driver has not been charged.

The investigation is ongoing and all use of force incidents undergo a review.

The officer who deployed his taser is off patrol pending the outcome of the investigation.