Sarasota, FL – A Florida politician running for Congress berated a Sarasota police officer during a traffic stop earlier this month, vowing to end her career and taunting her about her “immigrant status,” bodycam footage showed.
Sarasota businessman Martin Hyde, 56, is currently vying against U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan for Florida’s 16th Congressional District seat, the Herald-Tribune reported.
A Sarasota Police Department (SPD) officer pulled Hyde over near the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Fruitville Road at approximately 9:43 a.m. on Feb. 14 after she allegedly observed him speeding and texting while driving, WFLA reported.
The officer greeted the congressional candidate and explained the reason for the traffic stop, noting he was clocked traveling 57 miles per hour in a 40-mile-per-hour zone, bodycam footage showed.
“I’ll just call the chief, how about that?” Hyde retorted nearly immediately. “You know who I am, right?”
The officer remained calm and professional and asked Hyde for his license and registration, at which point he demanded to know how long she had been working for the SPD.
The seven-year department veteran answered his question just before Hyde threatened to call the SPD chief to tell him how “rude” she was being towards him, the video showed.
“You’re making career decisions,” he warned her. “Why are you doing this?”
“Sir, because you were speeding and you were texting,” the officer replied.
“Says who?” Hyde fired back, just before the officer headed back to her patrol vehicle.
When she returned to speak with the politician a moment later, he asked her if it was her “Russian immigrant status” that made her “talk to people like this,” the video showed.
The officer emigrated from Latvia, according to the Herald-Tribune.
Hyde then demanded the officer have her supervisor respond to the scene, so she made the request over her radio before attempting to explain his three citations to him.
“I’m not interested,” he replied, adding that he didn’t want to interact with her any further until her supervisor arrived. “I’m a law-abiding citizen, and you’re being bloody rude to me.”
The officer continued explaining the citations and Hyde’s options for handling them, at which point he grabbed his phone and began recording her, bodycam footage showed.
“You’re talking to a congressional candidate like this,” he scoffed.
The officer wrapped up her instructions and told Hyde she would wait in her patrol vehicle for her supervisor to arrive.
Hyde immediately got out of his vehicle and began walking into the street, at which point she instructed him to either get onto the sidewalk or back into his vehicle.
He got onto his cell phone while she radioed for another unit, noting the subject was being “extremely uncooperative,” the video showed.
Hyde later asked the officer why she wouldn’t just apologize to him.
“Because I did nothing wrong, sir. I was doing my job,” she responded.
When the police sergeant arrived at the scene, Hyde told him the two of them would “make sure that she pays the price for being disrespectful,” bodycam footage showed.
“I’ve got no interest in listening to you, young lady,” Hyde told the first officer at one point.
He went on to tout about how much he has helped the police in union negotiations and noted his son is a law enforcement officer.
“I’m friends with everybody in the police department,” Hyde declared. “This is the first time anybody has been disrespectful to me. And for what reason?…I mean, of all the people to do it to.”
“I don’t ask for special treatment,” he added, “but I don’t expect to get treated like a punk.”
Hyde then told the sergeant that the initial officer’s seven-year career with the SPD “might not turn into eight” after this incident, the video showed.
“Nobody in their right might would give a ticket for that to me,” he told another sergeant while bragging about his “$150,000 car.”
“She had a bee in her bonnet because she thought she was on a big power trip,” the politician ranted. “Guess what? She’s been there seven years. She ain’t gonna make eight. I’ll make sure. She ain’t.”
Hyde apologized for his behavior in a Facebook post on Feb. 22, according to the Herald-Tribune.
The post appears to have since been deleted.
“During the stop I was belligerent and rude to the officer who stopped me,” Hyde wrote, according to WFLA. “Much interest has been shown in local media and many comments made as to my behavior. I’m not going to justify my poor temper on that day or attempt to mitigate it in any way.”
“There will be some who will say it’s not the first time I’ve acted out and they’d be right,” he continued. “I have faults and one of them is to be overly aggressive on occasion when I’m challenged. In the political arena that is possibly a good thing but on a personal level it’s not.”
Hyde said he apologized to the officer who pulled him over, and that the post was intended to be an apology “to the community as a whole,” the Herald-Tribune reported.
The congressional candidate admitted Wednesday that he “tried to bully” the officer and said he was “not proud of” his behavior, WFLA reported.
“So, this isn’t a question of Martin Hyde disliking cops, this is a question of Martin Hyde being in ratty mood on a Monday morning and acting in a way that he regrets,” he said. “I am sorry. And I would like to think that I will learn from it. I would like to think other people might learn something from it too.”
But he also alleged that the only reason the situation gained so much public attention was because of his political campaign.
“I think people need to get a little bit of perspective. While I am sorry and while I accept that it shouldn’t have happened, many, many worse things are happening all over the world every single day,” he told WFLA. “And part of the reason I am running is to make sure we live in a better world.”
An SPD spokesperson said the officer who stopped Hyde is not under investigation for how she handled the traffic stop, WFLA reported.