Tazewell officials investigating traffic stop involving a citizen and police officer

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One picture can say a thousand words, especially a recent photo circulating on social media.

William Wilson Jr. is a Tazewell County native who lives in Tennessee.

While on vacation Tuesday evening, Wilson stopped at a gas station in Tazewell County and that’s when he says, Tazewell police officers approached his vehicle.

“Some activities took place, leaving little to be desired,” said Todd Day, Town Manager of Tazewell.

“That’s when I saw the blue lights,”  said Wilson. “The officer asked if I knew why he pulled me over and I told him I had no clue. That’s when he said I didn’t have a front license plate but in Tennessee, they only issue one license plate, so it’s not required to have a front one.”

Due to a pending investigation that started Wednesday, many details of what happened after that moment can’t be confirmed.

But Wilson says he received a ticket.

While signing the ticket, Wilson says his mother noticed the back of the officer’s clipboard, which showed a Confederate battle flag.

“It didn’t belong to the officer that’s in the picture,” said Police Chief David Mills. “It belonged to another officer that wasn’t working.”

But town officials are adamant that action is being taken to find out exactly what occurred that Tuesday night.

“We’re not here to cast guilt or innocence on anyone,” said Town of Tazewell Mayor Michael Hoops. “We’re here to find out the truth.”

“I do believe it was racial profiling,” said Wilson. “Just because of how the officer spoke to me and handled the situation.”

“I’m not going that route and saying it was racial profiling,” said Day. “I’m not going to state it wasn’t either. We’re still looking into it and we’re taking action. That’s a rebel battle flag but society over time has taken that flag and given it to different groups that we don’t condone.”

Day says, Town officials originally contacted the Virginia State Police for assistance with the case; because the incident is not considered a criminal case, the town is handling the investigation.

Jennifer Roberts

Jennifer Roberts

Multimedia Journalist

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