New York – Brooklyn Rabbi & Family Allegedly Handcuffed At Gunpoint And Terrorized By Vermont State Trooper


    Brooklyn, NY – The Vermont State Police has opened an investigation into claims that four members of a Borough Park family were reportedly held at gunpoint, thrown to the ground and handcuffed by a state trooper during a traffic stop in New England, turning their relaxing vacation into the ultimate nightmare.

    Yehuda Fink said that his parents and his younger brother and sister were en route to New Hampshire at approximately 11:30 PM on August 8th when they passed a Vermont state trooper parked on the side of northbound I91, a quiet four line highway near the White Mountains.

    The driver of the car, 57 year old Rabbi Berl Fink, saw the flashing lights on top of the police car and reacted as he would have been required to do if he were in New York, by pulling into the left lane as he passed the official vehicle in his 2004 Toyota Camry and returning to the right lane after passing the police car.

    Within moments, Rabbi Fink saw the flashing lights of the state trooper’s car in his rear view mirror as he continued on the interstate and turned to his wife to ask if she thought the police officer was trying to signal him to pull over.

    “My father was definitely not speeding,” Yehuda Fink told VIN News. “We always make fun of my father because he never goes over the speed limit.”

    Shortly thereafter, the state trooper shined a high intensity light on the Fink’s Camry, leaving no doubt that he was pulling Rabbi Fink over.

    “My father put on his blinker but there was no shoulder on the road on the spot where he was,” said Yehuda Fink. “As soon as he came to a shoulder, he pulled the car over.”

    The state trooper, later identified in the official police report of the incident as Trooper Justin Thompson, approached the car and, according to Fink, began shouting at Rabbi Fink to put both of his hands outside the window of his car.

    “He pulled out a gun, ordered my father out of the car, threw him on the floor, sat on his back and handcuffed him,” said Fink. “Then he went back for my 18 year old brother, threw him on the floor and handcuffed him at gunpoint.”

    Watching what was happening, Mrs. Fink, a long time principal at a girls’ school in Borough Park, dialed 911 on her cell phone, certain that her family had inexplicably become victims of a terror attack.

    “She actually told police that there was another police officer carrying out a terror attack on her family,” said Fink.

    While she wasn’t thrown to the ground, Mrs. Fink was next to be handcuffed at gunpoint.

    “Then he went back for my 16 year old sister,” said Fink. “My father was on the floor and said ‘she is a teenager. You have no right to touch her,’”

    Nearby police officers arrived on scene within moments but Mrs. Fink later told her son that she was sure that Trooper Thompson was going to shoot them all.

    The Finks were released several minutes later after being told by the group of officers who had gathered on scene that they had to leave because a violent emergency had arisen elsewhere.

    Rabbi Fink, the respected author of several seforim, was handed a summons for attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and was ordered to appear in court on September 20th, the day before Rosh Hashana.

    Yehuda Fink said that there appeared to be no reason for the traffic stop. According to Rabbi Fink, he had been driving under 60 miles per hour in a 65 miles per hour zone.

    “If he thought that my father was drunk or was on drugs, he should have performed some kind of sobriety test, but he didn’t,” said Fink. “There is just no reason for what happened here. And even if he thought my father was drunk, why did he handcuff the others?”

    Fink said that his parents called the next day to tell him about the incident, asking him to come pick them up and bring them back home to Brooklyn.

    “They were so traumatized they were afraid to drive,” said Fink. “My parents are strong people but they are very, very traumatized.”

    Attempts by both Rabbi Fink and Yehuda Fink to file an official complaint proved fruitless. While the state police was willing to initiate the process of dismissing all charges at Rabbi Fink’s request, they were unwilling to have Trooper Thompson apologize for his actions. And when Yehuda Fink called to file an official report of the incident, he was told that there was no docket number or complaint number, just that his report had been filed.

    Unwilling to let the matter drop, the Finks turned to Assemblyman Dov Hikind for assistance. Hikind said that the was horrified to hear what had happened and that he overnighted letters on Wednesday regarding the situation to the Vermont Governor Phil Scott, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan and the superintendent of the state police.

    “I am and have always been a very strong supporter of the police but there is no question that this family’s civil rights were violated,” said Hikind. “This should never happen to anyone in America and needs to be dealt with very seriously.”

    Hikind was contacted this afternoon by the Vermont State Police’s Internal Affairs Bureau, thanking him for bringing the matter to their attention and informing him that an investigation is being opened into the incident.

    “In my 35 years in office I have never gotten a response in less than 24 hours from a government agency,” said Hikind. “Their response is remarkable and they have told me that they will be reaching out to Rabbi Fink and his family for official statements.”

    The Vermont State Police did not immediately return calls for comment on the incident.

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    1. “Nearby police officers arrived on scene within moments but Mrs. Fink later told her son that she was sure that Trooper Thompson was going to shoot them all.”

      If this story is exactly the way the Finks describe it, this Trooper needs to be fired.

    2. If this story is true, not only should the trooper be fired, but sued and jailed as well!
      The trooper has been seen to be a danger to society.
      Not only that, but whoever hired this trooper should be sued as well!!!

    3. lets stop for a minute and try to analyze this ; what was the officer thinking he definitly has seen hasidic families on vacation – anyone who knows rabbi fink he is not the kind of guy that speeds, and if he did so a ticket …. i give the officer the benefit of the doubt but i cant think of an explanation .. we all can lose it but over what??? i DONT think an officer needs to be fired … but at least a real apology

    4. I was driving on Labor Day weekend in Ohio and PA, as well as in NJ, and NYS. I saw about 14-15 traffic stops, by state troopers. The cops hide in certain places, or have their fellow troopers on overpasses with radar guns. However, I did not see any brutality involved in the traffic stops. However, in this particular case, I have no doubt that it happened. The case of driving while Orthodox, and ensuing abuse by law enforcement, has occurred before in rural communities, where law enforcement has never seen a Jew, let alone very frum Jews. About twenty years ago, there was a similar case in PA, when a Rabbi went to inspect an Empire poultry plant. He was pulled over by a local sheriff in a rural area, and was being roughed up. Fortunately, a priest was driving by and witnessed what occurred. He immediately called the PA State Police, and reported what happened. P.S. The offending Sheriff was fired, and was brought up on charges.

    5. Driving While (dressed in) Black

      But what was the part about moving into the left lane? I’d never do that—pull to the right immediately and only if the cop tells you to continue on to where the shoulder starts, then do that.

    6. “The driver of the car, 57 year old Rabbi Berl Fink, saw the flashing lights on top of the police car and reacted as he would have been required to do if he were in New York, by pulling into the left lane as he passed the official vehicle in his 2004 Toyota Camry and returning to the right lane after passing the police car.”

      Is it possible that the police officer thought that they were evading his stop? Thank God no one was hurt.

    7. Sorry but it sounds like the cop was trying to stop them and they didn’t obey immediately so it was kind of a mini chase. Cops get very irate and nervous when a car dosent pull aside right away assuming something is wrong and dangerous. Still it dosen’t justify how the cop handled it and he should give an open apology indeed. Stop with this antisemitism garbage cause it does not click with the story. Seems that the cop is a hot head that needs to be disciplined and better trained.

    8. To #7- Why would you give that power hungry brutal cop the benefit of the doubt, after ordering all four family members out of the car at gunpoint, and frisking and handcuffing all four of them, over an alleged traffic violation? Then, to cover his tracks the cop lied, and gave a bogus ticket which stated “eluding Officer”. It is a good thing that the Rebbetzin, had the foresight to dial 911, so that other troopers arrived on the scene to witness what occurred. The trooper in this case (probably a young punk), must be brought up on internal disciplinary charges), and this incident must be placed on his record, if he is not fired. I’m sure that there will be a large financial settlement in this case, also. However, no matter what the sum is, I’m sure that the family will suffer flashbacks of this incident for a long time. A shanda that in 2017, these kinds of incidents still occur.

    9. think we should call state trooper HQ, their number can be easily searched online, and obviously very politely,
      and respectful. you’re calling
      since all over NY news you’re just a concerned citizen, and it’s understandable every story has two sides, just want to know if they have a statement re. this incident, they will say not commenting ongoing investigation. but KUTP.

    10. The law in most states mandates that you pull to the left lane, if you see a police car with lights on, on he right side. Even if you are in the right lane, and you see a trooper passing you on the left lane, with his lights on, presumably chasing another car, you are supposed to pull to the right shoulder. In this case, the Rabbi may not have known that the cop was following him, (don’t forget that it was at night, and it is not always that easy to see who is in back of you on a dark highway); that cop had no right ordering everyone (besides the driver) out of the car at gunpoint, handcuffing all of them, and frisking all of them. In fact, in the case of females, they are supposed to wait until a female Officer arrives, before frisking them. The cop was undoubtedly angry, because he felt that car didn’t stop quickly enough. Then, to cover his tracks, he claimed that “the car was speeding and swerving, and that the Rabbi was alluding an Officer”. The entire episode stinks! I’m sure that the Vermont authorities will try to cover this matter up, and blame the Rabbi. Unfortunately, these kind of incidents happen every day of the week, all over the USA.

    11. The question still remains as to why the officer initially blocked the car. The Supreme Court ruled long ago that:

      > To stop an automobile
      solely to conduct a check of the driver’s license and the vehicle’s registration,
      the fourth amendment requires a law enforcement official to
      have at least an articulable and reasonable suspicion that the motorist
      is unlicensed, the automobile is not registered, or the vehicle or an occupant
      is otherwise subject to seizure for a violation of law.’

    12. To #19- Don’t be so naive; do you think most cops listen to the U.S. Supreme Court? They follow cars routinely, and stop cars routinely, and then make up bogus excuses, and lie (as in this case) to cover themselves. This Rabbi and his family should bench Hagomel, as they were lucky that they weren’t hurt by that power hungry cop. I hope that he receives at least a 10 day suspension.

      Incidentally, whereas Dov Hikind is to be commended for being an advocate in this case for this family, where was he in 2006, when Mr. Schick was roughed up by the cops in Borough Park, and plenty of other Yidden were also roughed up? Some even had their beards pulled out by brutal cops.


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