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Berkeley City Council Member Tried to Get Out of Traffic Ticket: City

A Berkeley city council member has been accused of abuse of power after he allegedly tried to intimidate a police officer to get out of a traffic ticket.

The city of Berkeley released an audio recordong of what it appeared to be council member Ben Bartlett's traffic stop after he allegedly ran a red light at the intersection of Ashyb and Martin Luther King Jr.

When he was pulled over, he didn’t have his driver license and no proof of insurance. But it is what he said to the police officer that's raising concerns and, it was all caught on tape.

"Breaking my ***** to get you the biggest raise possible and this is how you repay me?" said Bartlett in the video.

Bartlett identified himself as a city council member and tells the officer he was late for an event.

Several times during the stop, Bartlett brings up how he voted in favor of the police union in recent closed-session negotiations.

"You know we are voting on your contract right now," he said. "I took a big stand to get you a raise. I took a stand against my district and what they yelled at me about." 

 Berkeley civil rights attorney Jim Chanin listened to the audio and said he doesn’t like what the councilman said, but doesn’t think he broke any laws or got any favors.

"It doesn’t appear that [the cop] was intimidated," said Chanin. "She did give him one ticket."

That one ticket was a fix-it ticket for not having his driver’s license in his possession but He was not given a ticket for running the red light.

"I’m deeply sorry for what I said. I was stressed, out of line and over-reacted. There is no excuse. There was no way that my action was appropriate," Bartlett said.

He added that he spoke to the mayor of Oakland informaly and he doesn't know if he will be disciplined by the city.

"It’s hard probably when you have power, and that happens, not to use it," said Oakland resident Susan Gill. "But, you shouldn’t, so I disagree with his action."

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