VERMILION COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Derek Cooper is speaking for the first time about traffic stops he’s experienced with the Danville Police Department.
Cooper said Danville police officers have pulled him over almost a dozen times in the last five years. He says he’s not arguing the reasons for those stops but still feels he’s being singled out.
He says he’s not afraid of police officers, but wants answers.
“I shake their hands,” Cooper said. “I’m respectful to them, they’re respectful to me. But I just want to know why so many stops. Why am I being targeted?”
His friend and former alderman, Lloyd Randle, presented Cooper’s concerns to city council members in January. After that, Danville’s Police Chief, Chris Yates, gathered data they have about Cooper since 2018.
Yates says their records show his department has stopped Cooper four times. Three of those stops were captured on body cameras. Those videos were shown at a city council meeting on Feb. 7.
In the first video, Cooper was given a warning for a broken light. Officers also asked him about a restricted driver’s license he’s had since 2016. It only allows him to drive for work and medical reasons.
He was questioned about those license requirements in the second video when an officer stopped him for going 49 miles per hour in a 35-mph zone on North Vermilion Street. Cooper insists he followed the rules.
“I didn’t drive outside my parameters. Now if they wanna keep harping on that, they can. But, I’m not doing nothing wrong.”
Cooper believes one reason he’s being pulled over could be related to his side and back windows being tinted.
“I’ve never been stopped for tint. So, I don’t know if they’re going to start harping on that now where the guy has tinted windows, too. But, if you can’t see in my car, you have to be legally blind.”
Yates said tint has never played a role in the stops his department has made. He said each officer’s actions were justified.
“I think this is something where someone is concerned about a traffic stop and the status of their driver’s license and getting their driver’s license back. That is, I believe, the complainant’s concern.”
Randle still wants an independent review of pedestrian and traffic stops.
“Mr. Cooper has been stopped almost 16 times in the last seven and a half years. That’s unacceptable for any person in the community to be stopped.”
Despite everything that’s happened, Cooper said he’s open to a resolution.
“I just want to get together with them, and we get everything settled. I go about my life; they go about theirs. I see them, we speak, whatever. No grudges.”
Danville Police have reached out to meet with Cooper. No meeting has happened yet.