CODY, Wyo. – A painful cry for help came over the other side of the phone line, and in that moment Teresa Piper’s heart sank into a deep worry.
Her son was on the phone calling his mom for help.
It was a January morning in 2023, and her son was on his way to school. But instead of heading to class, he was pulled over for a traffic violation that would ultimately come into question and lead to the internal investigation of a longtime Cody police officer.
“I was angry about it. I mean, it was unnecessary,” said Piper.
What makes Piper so angry is the body camera footage of that traffic stop shows her son getting forcibly removed from the car. His neck was grabbed, his arm twisted and all the while, he called for his mom’s help as she sat on the line helpless in the moment.
“I kept telling him I was on the way, and that I would be there soon,” said Piper. “I was trying to calm him down.”
But the officer’s body camera footage doesn’t show her son aggressive, but rather upset and confused.
“I thought my kid did a great job of being polite with the officer, and Stinson just came in aggressive,” she said.
She’s referring to Officer Blake Stinson, who made the traffic stop because he reported witnessing the teen drive into a crosswalk while a pedestrian was there.
The body cam footage shows officers yanking Piper’s son from the car when he failed to produce the car’s registration and his license, something he continues to tell the officer he can’t find.
Eventually, the incident escalates with the officer yelling at the teen to unlock the door while holding onto both his arms.
The teen finally exits the vehicle and is placed in handcuffs, while officers search the car, after Stinson reported smelling marijuana coming from the car. Recreational marijuana is illegal in Wyoming.
The whole ordeal leaves Piper outraged.
"I don’t believe he should be an officer, period. I feel like he should lose his job, find another profession and that’s that,” she said.
Cody police officials say they're trying to determine discipline for Stinson.
Police Chief Chuck Baker says an officer, whom he did not identify, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
Baker did not identify the officer, but a YouTube video by Lackluster, a channel that seeks to "hold public officials accountable," first published the body cam footage and identified the officer as Stinson.
Baker did not return multiple calls from MTN News and would only provide a written statement on the incident.
“We are committed to taking appropriate corrective actions… should the findings of the investigation determine that the employee’s conduct was inappropriate excessive or inconsistent with the responsibilities of the role," Baker wrote.
MTN News placed an email request for comment to Stinson, but he has not responded.
Piper calls Baker’s response to her son’s viral video a "slap in the face."
“We are a little upset that he’s on paid leave,” she said. “And that just tells us that they don’t take it as seriously as they should.”
“I have never been fearful of police,” said Scott Teaschner, who said he’s also had an aggressive interaction with Stinson just roughly two months prior to the one involving Piper’s son.
Teaschner says he was pulled over by Stinson in November for not using a turn signal. Before he knew it, he was in a full-blown field sobriety test.
Teaschner had court documents from a court ruling on his case, showing how a judge ordered evidence gathered by Stinson be suppressed on grounds he failed to establish reasonable belief during the traffic stop.
“If they don’t address this and he gets put back, it’s just a huge huge mistake on their part,” said Teaschner.
The body cam video of the incident with Piper’s son and Stinson has since blown up on the internet. Dispatchers at the Cody Police Department said hundreds have called to offer comments about the case.
“He treats people with disrespect. He immediately starts screaming and yelling. I just don’t think he has what it takes to be a good officer,” said Piper.
Still all the while, Baker is asking the community to understand that video seen online doesn’t tell the whole story.