(UPDATE on Oct. 8, 2019: Seven more people have told the Arizona Department of Public Safety they were victimized by former DPS officer Tremaine Jackson, according to a news release. Jackson is being held on $150,000 bond.)
The motorist was driving westbound on the Interstate 10 in Buckeye last December when the police motorcycle emerged beside her driver's-side window.
It was nearly 3:30 a.m., and the woman's phone screen, lighting up with texts from her girlfriend, illuminated her car's passenger cabin in the dark. The bike fell behind her and its emergency lights came on. When she pulled over, the state trooper examined her license and registration.
The way it began — as described in court documents filed Wednesday detailing interviews with the unnamed female driver — might have seemed like an ordinary traffic stop. That is, until he walked back to her car, saw an incoming call on her phone screen and reached into the vehicle, disconnecting the call and grabbing her keys out of the ignition.
The Arizona state trooper who pulled her over, Tremaine Jackson, detained her for nearly two hours, the driver later told detectives, threatening her arrest and the seizure of her vehicle while complimenting her body, insinuating he wanted sexual favors and asking for her Snapchat username so “they could hang out and get drinks.”
The driver had a suspended license and was unsure if she would be going to jail.
She asked him if he was going to arrest her. The trooper replied, “No, you’re not free to go yet. I’m not finished with you." He asked her what she was “willing to do” to stay out of jail.
Was she willing to give him a dance at the adult dance club where she had just gotten off work?
Would she give him a kiss?
She did neither. But when he finally let her go, the documents say, he followed her most of the way home.
Nine Alleged Victims, 61 Counts
The above account is from one of nine alleged victims of Jackson who are accusing him of misconduct over the past year, each one detailed in a 31-page booking sheet filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court.
All told, they paint a picture of a depraved law enforcement officer who habitually targeted, pulled over, and restrained female drivers, sometimes for more than an hour, in order to sexually harass them, threaten them, and extort them for sexual favors or promises of future contact. Documents say Jackson, who has since been fired by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, falsified records and used his power as a peace officer “to further his predatory behavior” and place women “in positions of desperation and fear.”
While the average state trooper in his squad and district stopped nearly two men for every woman from January 2018 to June 2019, the filing said, Jackson’s traffic stop logs during the same period were a "statistical anomaly": His stops were mostly of women.
A 13-year veteran of the agency, Jackson had been working in DPS' Phoenix-area Metro Motors Division when a sexual assault complaint in June led to an internal investigation and his eventual firing, DPS officials said. The 43-year-old Jackson was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of 61 counts of sexual abuse and extortion, kidnapping, harassment, and fraud.
Jackson’s lawyer, David Cantor, did not respond to requests for comment, but emphasized in court on Wednesday that his client is innocent until proven guilty.
A Pattern of Behavior
The accounts from nine alleged victims in initial court documents, all from unnamed women, came out of an internal DPS investigation that began after a first criminal complaint was filed with the agency on June 11 of this year.
When DPS investigated the claims, it found evidence that Jackson repeatedly falsified time and location records to conduct traffic stops on women that stretched longer than needed, and that sometimes occurred when there was no legal reason for the stop at all. Jackson was then “relieved of duty,” said Colonel Frank Milstead, DPS director, in a press conference on Tuesday.
The alleged victims’ accounts involve mostly late-night traffic stops since October 2018 that occurred on the west side of metro Phoenix, all while Jackson was on duty. The accusations range from verbal harassment to physical sexual misconduct.
One woman reported Jackson pulled her over into a Jack in the Box parking lot and asked her personal questions, told her she had “nice lips,” and asked her to spin around to look at her body. Though she repeatedly asked to go home, he pressed on, asking for her phone number and placing her hand on his erect penis before releasing her.
Another woman said Jackson never requested her ID or any paperwork, but instead spent the traffic stop asking where she was going, making conversation about her breasts, and asking for oral sex in return for not giving her a citation. She told Jackson she couldn’t perform the act in public, but to follow her to a friend's house; when she got there, she went inside and locked the door until he left.
In many of the accounts, alleged victims said Jackson used the power of his position to taunt them and ask what they would be willing to do to be let free. They said he used phrases such as “I don’t know what I’m gonna do with you” and “You’re gonna have to convince me.”
Multiple alleged victims also said he solicited their personal contact information, including social media accounts, and looked over their shoulders at their phones until he saw they had added his profile.
DPS Takes Action
Jackson is being held in jail on a $150,000 bond. Meanwhile, DPS is actively seeking information from anyone who may have been victimized by Jackson or who has information about him. They’ve found nine examples of inappropriate contact in the past year so far, but say they believe there could be more victims.
At Tuesday's press conference, Milstead said he was “horrified” at his former employee’s behavior.
“Trooper Jackson was using his position as an Arizona state trooper to bargain leniency for favor,” Milstead said. “Our job now is to respond appropriately.”
Asked whether there are any plans for agency-wide action to ensure other incidents of misconduct aren’t occurring, DPS representatives said those conversations are still to come. The hiring and training processes for troopers are already extensive, said DPS spokesperson Sergeant Kameron Lee.
“But I’ll say this,” Lee said. “You can’t always background-check someone’s heart.”