PHILADELPHIA, PA -- A video of a traffic stop by 15th district officers in Philadelphia has gone viral with more than 1 million views. The man in the video says officers abused their power but police are painting a very different picture.
28-year-old Tony Soto recorded the traffic stop on his cellphone.
"I am not anti-police, I support the police. I just don't support police abusing their powers," Soto told Action News.
In the video, Soto showed his license, but refused to show his registration.
Police are concerned about Soto's motives and criminal past.
"We are going to tell our officers to be cautious. It raises your level of suspicion when you have a person - a prior felony - and has had some prior interaction with the law and has been known to interact with guns. So we are going to tell our officers to be careful," said Lt. John Sanford, Philadelphia Police.
Soto sat down with Action News to discuss the controversial video.
"This traffic stop, just brought to light an ongoing issue that is continually denied all over our nation with individuals being stopped and in some cases being racially profiled," said Soto.
Soto says the officers who stopped him were not African-American but police say differently.
"They were African American officers," said Lt. Stanford.
The original reason for the stop was for tinted windows.
Soto flashed a paper at the officer saying he had a medical exemption from PennDOT for sun screening on his car, but he didn't bring that letter to our meeting.
"If you were provided that certificate from PennDOT, it has to be colorless tint," said Lt. Stanford.
We asked Soto if his windows were dark tinted.
"Okay in your opinion or anyone else's opinion from watching the video tape - that's their opinion. No one knows what tint is on my vehicle, whether it's colored or colorless, although it may look dark," said Soto.
And then there's this - in the video, Soto held up a card and badge identifying himself to the officer as a fire marshal.
We asked him if he's a fire marshal.
"The tape speaks for itself and, at this point, okay let's not take the focus as to who I am or what I do or what is going on and let's keep the focus on what is really going on. It is not about Tony Soto," said Soto.
So who is Soto?
He's a felon, sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for straw purchasing firearms.
He has multiple convictions for theft, fleeing from police, and was convicted of impersonating a public servant in 2005 and now claims he is a volunteer firefighter.
We asked Soto where he works.
"Well we are going to - you are going to stop that right there alright - we are going to stop that and we are not going to go into that," said Soto.
Police are also cautioning the public not to use Soto's video as an example of what to do during a traffic stop.
While it is legal to record video, the Pennsylvania vehicle code requires drivers to turn over their identification and registration.
In addition, the Fraternal Order of Police is now asking authorities to pursue charges against Soto for allegedly impersonating a public servant.
Philadelphia traffic stop caught on video sparks controversy
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