The Team Behind Traffic Stop on the Importance of Starting a Conversation

By Allison Picurro

Featuring footage caught on a dashcam, Traffic Stop tells the story of Breaion King, a 26-year-old African-American school teacher from Austin, Texas whose routine traffic violation quickly escalated into a dramatic arrest at the hands of a white police officer. King, director Kate Davis, and producer David Heilbroner were on hand at the 2017 DOC NYC festival to discuss their 30-minute film. Here, the key takeaways from their post-screening conversation:

The filmmakers want audiences to form their own opinions.

“There’s so much noise in the racism space,” said Heilbroner commented. “What we wanted to do was give you a film that shows you what’s out there. You draw your own conclusions.”

They hope the film is just the start of an important conversation.

When asked if they would consider exploring King’s story as a feature-length film, Davis was clear that her intentions were focused on social change. “I feel like it opens itself up to a larger story,” she said. “I hope it starts a real legal change.”

“We’d like to team up with police officers, civil rights lawyers, and start a conversation,” Heilbroner added.

Watching the film was a healing experience.

After her arrest, King had trouble getting back to her normal life. “I heard about Sandra Bland; I felt bad because I happened before Sandra Bland,” she said, referring to the young black woman found hanged in her cell three days after being arrested at a traffic stop.

“I thought, ‘Maybe if I said something, I could’ve saved her life.’” she mused. “It hurt, but then I was able to empathize and say, ‘I’ve got to do something.’”