SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Martin Hyde, a congressional candidate from the Sarasota area, has released a public apology following a recent traffic stop where he threatened to end the career of the officer who pulled him over.
“I tried to bully her,” Hyde said of the Feb. 14 traffic stop. “I am not proud of it.”
The incident happened at the corner of Fruitville Road and Euclid Avenue. The entire encounter was captured on the officer’s body-worn camera.
In the video, the female officer explains to Hyde that he is being pulled over for speeding and texting while driving.
Less than 30 seconds into their interaction, Hyde says to the officer, “you know who I am, right?” He then tells her, “I’ll just call the chief, how about that?”
The video shows Hyde question the officer’s nationality when she returns with citations for speeding, texting while driving and failure to produce a registration.
“Is it your Russian immigrant status that makes you talk to people like this?” Hyde asked.
Video from the traffic stop also shows the congressional candidate threatening to end the officer’s career with the police department.
The officer called for her supervisor to respond and also called for a backup unit, citing “the driver being extremely uncooperative.”
“We’re going to make sure that she pays the price for being disrespectful,” Hyde said to one of the officers who responded as backup.
Hyde spoke with WFLA on Wednesday about the traffic stop and said he happened to be in a grumpy mood that day. He said he respects law enforcement officers and added that his oldest son is a sheriff’s deputy.
“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.”
Hyde is challenging Rep. Vern Buchanan in a Republican primary for the chance to represent Florida’s 16th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He said if he wasn’t running for public office, he’s not sure his recent interaction with officers would be a big deal.
“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 said. “And part of the reason I am running is to make sure we live in a better world.”
He released the following statement on social media addressing the incident:
“Just over a week ago I was stopped in Sarasota for speeding. During the stop I was belligerent and rude to the officer who stopped me. 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. 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. I’ve apologized to the officer in question, and now I’m apologizing to the community as a whole. I’m going to do my utmost to behave better going forward. I’m not running away though as that’s not in my nature. There is nothing more I can say or will say on this subject other than I’m sorry for any offence caused to anyone.”
Sarasota Police are not commenting on the incident. However, a spokesperson told 8 On Your Side the officers actions are not being reviewed.