Tenaha Police Department responds to accusations of officer misconduct

Last week accusations from a local resident on Facebook against a Tenaha Police Officer surfaced,

The allegations come from Jennifer Lindley family member to Sandra Lindley, who was stopped by Tenaha Police Officer Robert Carlsen on the night of July 16 for speeding and states,

"Yesterday on our way home from Tyler we were stopped by a Tenaha Police Officer. He pulled us over and made us wait 10 min on the side of the road before he ever approached the car. Sandra and I were alone with my 3 children. We were getting scared at this point. Sandra called the Sheriff office to see what was going on. Only after then did the officer finally approach the vehicle. He didn't give us any reason for being stopped just started telling us we were in a stolen vehicle. He said that the plates were coming back to a Malibu in Pennsylvania. He also said that the VIN munbers didnt match up. (He never got out of the car to look.) He said he had the Sheriff on the way to us bu cancelled the call out. He wouldn't look at Sandra's license or the paperwork on the Tahoe after she offered. He had us walk to his computer in his vehicle to look at the results of the plates he ran. He then said he knew we didnt steal the vehicle and reached out and turned the cameras off and erased the footage. He said he didnt need it anymore because it was a test after we talked for a few minutes he the halfway walked us to the Tahoe and let us go. This was very strange to me. No cause for the stop and no ticket or warning issued. This is not how the law is to be carried out. We felt as if our safety was in danger. We were on the side of a busy highway way too long for nothing. My children were scared. The officers name was Robert Carsen. If you are outside of Center be aware of this going on. Feel free to share the post." 

Since then, the Tenaha Police Department has released the bodycam and dashcam footage of Officer Robert Carlsen and his traffic stop of Sandra Lindley, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, as well as a statement regarding the matter.

"This statement is regarding an incident initially published on social media calling into question an officer's conduct with the Tenaha Police Department during a traffic stop. Later, the party involved did contact the Tenaha Police Department regarding the incident.

On July 16, 2018, at approximately 8:57 p.m., an officer with the Tenaha Police Department observed a vehicle traveling over the posted speed limit (excess of 10 mph over the posted speed limit, which can clearly be observed in the video). The officer conducted a traffic stop for the infraction on US HWY 96 South of Tenaha, Texas. During the initiation of the stop, the officer was notified that the vehicle was being reported as "possibly" stolen. Please note at this time his mobile system showed the vehicle as stolen along with dispatch verification that the vehicle was stolen.

Immediately after the social media post was brought to my attention an internal investigation of the incident was conducted. The officer's body camera footage was examined and viewed and an oral interview was conducted with the officer consisting of his recollection of events regarding this incident. 

Following my investigation, the social media reports directly conflict my findings. The officer followed proper police protocol. The process took longer than one would hope, but when it appears an officer may be dealing with a stolen vehicle or other dangerous situations, the officer must excercise extreme caution. The officer requested other units to respond for officer safety before approaching the vehicle in question. The involved party was not hurt, injured, or put in danger at any time. The officer was polite and explanatory as you can see from the video. The officer seems to conduct himself professionally during the duration of the traffic stop. Clearly the video footage was not destroyed, altered, or damaged. We have reviewed said video and it has been released for the public's view per an open records request. 

I urge anyone with any complaints or concerns to not hesitate to report them. I can assure that all situations will be taken seriously and handled accordingly." 

The video of the stop can be viewed via YouTube at the following link for you to view and decide for yourselves. 

Video Playlist of Tenaha Police Department Traffic Stop, July 16

Stay tuned to the Light and Champion for more updates on the issue as we recieve them, and check out our next print edition for the full story and breakdown of the video and release statements. 

Introduction videography by Justin Mott.