Oldham Co. Kentucky Attorney John Carter is facing criticism for a statement in which he appeared to suggest being Hispanic is “probable cause” for getting pulled over in a traffic stop. A video of the Oct. 14 court appearance captures pieces of the exchange.
Police said they pulled over defendant, Mauro Martinez, in July for speeding, but Martinez claims he was not speeding at the time. His attorney, Dawn Elliott, believes he was instead pulled over as a result of racial profiling. When Elliott confirmed in court that the defense believes Martinez was pulled over because he’s Hispanic, Carter can be heard saying, “it’s probable cause” immediately afterward.
In the video, Elliott can be heard immediately responding to Carter’s comment saying,
“I’m going to act like I didn’t hear that.”
Judge Diana Wheeler added,
“I am too.”
“It’s our contention that he was stopped because he was driving while brown,” Elliott told WDRB last Thursday. “We were all kind of shocked that an elected official would make a statement like that.”
Carter later told local outlets that he was referring to the moving violation on the citation as probable cause — not the fact that Martinez is Hispanic.
“I was looking at the citation,” the attorney told The Courier-Journal,. “I thought they were talking about the cop not citing him with a speeding charge.”
According to The Courier-Journal, the officer who stopped Martinez said the defendant provided valid registration and insurance but not a valid driver’s license. Police then cited him for not having a driver’s license, not for speeding.
“The officer on the citation stated he was speeding, yet he didn’t charge him with a moving violation,” Elliott told WDRB.
Elliott told the outlet that she did not believe Carter’s response wasn’t in regards to Martinez being Hispanic.
“Clearly he had an opportunity to clear that up on the record over 24 hours ago, but now there’s buzz about it,” she told The Courier-Journal. “My reaction and the judge’s reaction speaks for itself. We certainly interpreted him talking about probable cause for my client’s ethnicity.”