Fairfax County police

Audio of Internal Affairs Interview Reveals New Details of Challenged Va. Arrest

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In audio released from an internal investigation of a former Fairfax County police officer accused of lying about a traffic stop that put a D.C. firefighter in jail for almost two years, the officer appears to admit problems with his own police report on the stop.

Former officer Jonathan Freitag said the firefighter, Elon Wilson, crossed over the solid yellow line while driving in April 2018.

Fairfax County Police Internal Affairs, who interviewed Freitag about the traffic stop in 2020, disagreed.

"We don't see the vehicle cross the solid line," Sgt. Jason Chandler of Fairfax County Police Internal Affairs told Freitag.

“Well, let's play the video but we played this literally at the suppression hearing where you can see his tires touch the solid line," Freitag said.

“So they touched the solid line?" Chandler asked Freitag.

"Yeah, they touch, they literally touch it,” Freitag replied. “He's crossing over the line."

Freitag pulled Wilson over and claims he smelled marijuana and that the windows are too tinted.

Freitag told internal affairs he never actually tested the window tint to know if they were too dark. In fact, he was never trained on how to do it.

“To question you about tint meters and their usage, you've never been trained, you have no knowledge of tint. Have you ever charged someone with a tint violation before?" Chandler asked Freitag.

"Yeah," he replied.

Freitag arrested Wilson after finding guns and drugs inside the vehicle, which Wilson has said were not his.

Freitag said while on patrol, he would camp out in a church parking lot across the street from a music recording studio and stop anyone who behaved out of the ordinary, which can be considered a pretextual traffic stop — stopping someone for one reason in order to conduct an unrelated search or investigation.

"This is a pretextual stop, let's make it clear," Chandler said on the audio recording.

"Yeah, 100%," Freitag replied.

"You don't admit to that in the report," Chandler said.

"Yeah, I don't admit to that in any of my reports,” Freitag said. “I was told not to."

That report — and many others — are what prosecutors built cases on.

Freitag referenced one such former Fairfax County prosecutor and said she knew he used pretexts to make stops even though he left them out of his report.

"I told Lauren, even before the trial, I said this report sucks,” Freitag told internal affairs. “It's gonna get picked apart in court. She's like, No, no, you're fine. Trust me, you have enough."

That attorney told News4 she never condoned pretextual stops.

In 2020, Virginia's legislature passed a law banning police from using many pretexts, including window tint.

While that happened after Freitag stopped Wilson, the practice raised questions and investigations into his work.

Wilson’s case was recently challenged and thrown out. He was released this week.

The local investigation into Freitag has reached the county board.

"As the chair of the Public Safety Committee, we've gotta have an answer on what happened, and the board's gonna be engaged in that conversation," County Supervisor Rodney Lusk said.

Freitag resigned from the police department. He is under internal and federal investigation but has not been charged with any crime.

News4 reached out to his attorney for comment but hasn’t heard back.

Fairfax County prosecutors are attempting to throw out more than 400 other convictions involving Freitag.

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