A California police officer pulled over a car on US Route 101 near San Jose last month, leading to a viral Facebook video of the officer pointing a gun at a passenger in the vehicle for nine minutes.

Video of officer holding gun on passenger goes viral

A Facebook video was posted in July and has so far amassed almost two million views. The footage begins shortly after the officer pulls the car over for speeding after it passed the officer at what the Campbell Police Department quoted as 85 mph.

Police officer asks for the driver’s papers

On stopping the vehicle, the officer routinely requests the driver’s license and other papers, which apparently weren’t conveniently at hand.

While the driver and the vehicle’s passenger spent a few minutes searching the car for the relevant papers, the officer went back to his motorcycle, ready to write a citation. According to police, when he returned to the car, the passenger was bending over and reaching under his seat. At that stage, the officer said he felt “threatened” and instantly pulled out his handgun as he believed the passenger was reaching for a weapon.

According to the police statement, it was unclear why the passenger was reaching under the seat, as no further requests for paperwork had been made by the officer. However, the officer perceived the man’s actions as a threat and felt it necessary to draw his gun.

Officer holds gun on the passenger for nine minutes

The video footage, taken by the woman driver of the car, shows the passenger asking the officer repeatedly to stop pointing the gun at him, saying his hands were clearly visible. However, the officer continued pointing his weapon at the passenger for a full nine minutes. At the same time, the officer was calling for backup.

That video is included here - warning, there is some strong language.

As reported by the Sacramento Bee, in their statement, police said they understood that it is never comfortable to have a handgun pointing at you, even by a police officer. However, it said the officer held the gun on the passenger for a longer period than usual, due to his location and the lack of backup officers.

People in the car dispute the police statement

As noted by Splinter News, there were three people in the vehicle – the woman driver, the passenger in question and a third person in the back seat of the car. All three disputed the California police department’s claims, saying the passenger was merely looking for the requested paperwork and that it was unnecessary to hold them at gun point.

The incident ended with the police officer giving both the driver and her passenger citations and allowing them to leave.