HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Huntsville Police officers are investigating a claim by a citizen that one of their officers was going more than 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
The man who asked us not to use his name used a cell phone to record video as he followed the police officer. The man tells WHNT News 19 he confronted the officer outside his home. The unidentified officer threatened to arrest the man for trespassing, but in the end the man left the officer's home without handcuffs.
Following the confrontation, the man filed a formal complaint with the HPD internal affairs department and they confirmed Friday the department is investigating.
Given recent incidents around the country, the exchange prompted us to ask Huntsville Police how citizens should go about reporting police officers for something they think is not right.
"Following the officer to his home, where his family is, is not the right thing to do," Deputy Chief Kirk Giles told WHNT News 19 Friday.
"Especially in the environment where officers are being targeted and killed, officer are on edge right now and following an officer to their home is not smart," Giles says. "There is a process in place and we investigate these claims fully, but people must go about it the right way," Giles added.
The incident happened Friday in Jones Valley. The unidentified man says he and the officer were beside each other at a stop light when he claims the officer "took off." The man claims the officer was going 65 mph in a posted 45 mph speed limit zone.
"He did not have his lights on. They write tickets to us every day for speeding. Why do they get to do it and not face any consequences," the man who provided WHNT News 19 the cell phone video asked.
Deputy Chief Giles says internal affairs is currently reviewing the situation and would not comment about the on-going investigation. But, he did say officers have a handbook of guidelines to follow and speeding does result in discipline.
"The public looks to us as an example of what is the right way to do things and we want to assure everyone we take complaints of wrongdoing seriously," Giles added.
We think it's important to note that the man was speeding in order to capture the video of the officer. When we asked Huntsville Police top brass about that, they did not turn the issue around and make it about the citizen who filed the complaint and the laws he was breaking. Though they acknowledged that he was potentially putting himself and others at risk by speeding and the distraction of recording the video added to the danger.
Giles stated that Huntsville Police have tracking technology in many of their vehicles which allows them to determine a car's location and how fast the vehicle was travelling. He added that citizens simply need to report a concern and they will investigate it from there and take appropriate disciplinary action.
In a similar case last month, a Madison County Sheriff's deputy was disciplined after a citizen snapped a photo of the officer apparently online shopping on their laptop inside the patrol car while waiting at a stop sign.