A New York City rabbi was traumatized when he was pulled over on a remote Vermont interstate for suspected speeding, ordered at gunpoint to lie on the ground, then handcuffed along with his wife and another son.
Yehuda Fink, the son of Rabbi Berl Fink, said Monday that his parents and teenage brother and sister thought they were targets of a terrorist attack during the late-night August 8 stop.
‘We’re talking about normal people. What in the world are you doing to them? It’s out of hand. This shouldn’t have happened in any state in the United States of America,’ Yehuda, 29, said.
Police, Trooper Justin Thompson, left, detains driver Rabbi Berl Fink, while a second officer, right, detains passenger Rabbi Eli Fink, both of of Brooklyn, New York, during a traffic stop
Vermont State Trooper Justin Thompson, left, points his weapon at a car that had been driven by Rabbi Berl Fink
Rabbi Berl Fink, of Brooklyn, was cited for attempting to elude police after traveling more than four miles before pulling over.
Berl Fink said he didn’t know he was being pulled over but once he did, tried to find a safe spot to do so, his son said.
After the car pulled over, police dashboard video shows, the trooper shouted from his cruiser for driver Rabbi Berl Fink to get out and walk backward with his hands up.
Vermont State Trooper Justin, who was holding a gun, ordered him to lie on the ground.
Thompson decided to initiate a ‘high-risk motor vehicle stop’ because he was in a rural area late at night with no immediate backup nearby, the vehicle had failed to stop, the occupants’ actions were suspicious and the vehicle had been speeding, according to the investigation said.
In such a stop, officers are trained to order the driver and passengers out of the vehicle and to have their guns drawn
During the stop, another of the Rabbi’s son, Rabbi Eli Fink tried to get out of the vehicle, but Thompson ordered him to stay inside.
A still frame from dashboard camera video released by the Vermont State Police shows troopers detaining passenger Rabbi Eli Fink, rear, and driver Rabbi Berl Fink, off camera at right
The rabbi was ordered at gunpoint to lie on the ground and his family were handcuffed
Once backup police arrived, Eli Fink was ordered out of the vehicle and was told to walk backward but failed to do so and walked to a guardrail.
He was pushed against the car and was handcuffed.
Two other passengers, the Rabbi’s wife, Sarah Fink, and another child, also were handcuffed.
Sarah Fink told the New York Post the ordeal was ‘traumatizing.’
‘I tell you, there was brutality,’ she said. ‘He was pointing guns.’
A police investigation reviewed by the State Police Advisory Commission made up of Vermont residents found that Trooper Justin Thompson acted according to his training and police policy and that there was no evidence of bias.
The commissioner and the panel released a statement about the results of the investigation Friday.
Trooper Justin Thompson, right, watches driver Rabbi Berl Fink read a citation. An internal investigation of the nighttime traffic stop has cleared the trooper of wrongdoing
‘Although we now know that this was not a dangerous situation, Trooper Thompson could not have known that during the time the vehicle failed to stop as he followed it for several miles on the interstates or at the time of the stop.
‘When assessed in their totality, Trooper Thompson’s observations reasonably led him to believe that he should conduct a high-risk stop to ensure a safe outcome,’ the statement said.
‘There was no evidence from the investigation to suggest his actions were based on any type of bias or profiling.’
Thompson had clocked the vehicle behind him going 83 mph in a 65 mph zone on Interstate 91 in Thetford, according to the investigation.
The investigation found it was so dark the trooper couldn’t see details of the vehicle’s occupants before trying to pull it over.
Thompson pulled over and put on his lights. Once the vehicle passed he tried to pull it over with his lights and siren, but the driver failed to stop, driving 60-65 mph for 4.5 miles.
Democratic New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the ordeal was ‘so clearly unnecessary’ and still affecting the family.
State police officials clocked the vehicle at 83 miles per hour on Interstate 91, and tried to stop the vehicle with lights and sirens but it failed to stop for 4.5 miles. The pair later shook hands