A video circulating online of an Elk Grove police officer searching the purse of a woman who was in a car that was pulled over for expired registration is raising eyebrows by some in the community.
Keri Williams, an 18-year-old from South Sacramento, posted the video of her encounter with the officer from last week on Facebook.
In the video, you can see an officer grabbing her purse and searching it without her consent.
"It didn't feel right to me, that's why I posted it," Williams told ABC10. "If I feel like, 'Oh, you can't see anything wrong in this video,' I wouldn't have posted it."
Williams says her boyfriend's mother, Yvette White, was driving her to work when two officers pulled White over for car registration that was more than six months expired.
The officers called a tow truck for the car, and after 20 to 30 minutes there, Williams said she was told she could leave. She decided to stay, however, to make sure White got an Uber.
"I'm not doing anything wrong. I just want to make sure that she gets wherever she needs to go safely," Williams is heard saying in the video.
Williams said she decided to start recording the encounter when the officers began patting down White.
"[The officer] said we have body cams, so you don't need to record this," Williams said. "I decided to record anyways because if I wanted to post the video I couldn't say, 'Hey, officer send me that video so I can post it.'"
She believes the reason she ultimately got searched was because she decided to record.
"If I decided to walk off they weren't going to search me or anything, but since I decided to sit there and record that's when they decided, 'Oh we're going to go through her bag,'" she said. "It was retaliation because they didn't want me to record."
ABC10 reached out to Elk Grove PD about the incident. A spokesperson would only say that they are aware of the video and are currently looking into whether or not the officer was within his rights to search her bag.
Whether or not the officer acted unprofessionally, it does raise questions about what people's rights are during an encounter with a police officer.
On Tuesday night, the video was brought up at a "Know Your Rights" training session hosted by the National Lawyers Guild at the Oak Park Community Center.
"There's mixed feelings there," Danny Garza, a law student who led the training, said. "In order for an officer to search somebody's belongings they need consent, a warrant or probable cause. And throughout the video they said, 'You're free to go, you're free to go,' and then he searched her."
Garza also said silence can be taken as consent, and a person generally needs to invoke their right not be searched.
"An officer can say, 'I'm going to search your purse, OK?' And if you don't say, 'No, I don't want you to search, there is debate," he said, "There is wiggle room to say maybe it was lawful."
Not everyone believes the police officer is in the wrong.
A woman, for instance, posted on the Elk Grove Laguna Forums page saying, "Dislike this innate divisiveness and antagonism towards the police. The police are only doing their job and the easiest course of action is to act politely and comply with what an officer is asking you to do."
The Elk Grove PD said their chief would like to speak with Williams about the incident. Williams said so far she has not been contacted by the department.