A dashcam video posted by a Texas sheriff’s office on Friday showing what at first looks like a routine traffic stop has already racked up over 7 million views and 9,000 comments — and it’s not hard to figure out why.
The viral video starts with a white king cab Ford 250 pulled over on the side of Highway 281 outside Encino, Texas, with its hazards flashing. The rear passenger-side door opens up and a man with a hat peers out, looking back at the sheriff’s cruiser. But before the man is even securely back in the vehicle, the truck races away, the cruiser pursuing.
The truck turns left on the median turn lanes, then drives across both of the other two lanes onto the side of the road. The short-lived high-speed chase ends abruptly, with the truck stopping on the side of the road near a fence.
That’s when the run-of-the-mill looking truck — which the sheriff’s office says turned out to be stolen — suddenly begins looking more like a circus car. In a flash, a stunning number of people, who many online assume to be illegal immigrants, jump out from all four doors and the back bed and to try to make a run for it.
Over 20 people — almost entirely young men — flee the single vehicle. Most of them exit from the cab, but at least nine had been apparently lying flat in the bed of the truck with a piece of cardboard over them to hide them from view.
The “bailout” video was posted by Brooks County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. The office provides the following context: “Brooks County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop on a White Ford F-250 that came back stolen. After a brief pursuit the vehicle bailout in Encino,TX.”
When exactly the footage was taken is unclear. The American Mirror reports that the traffic stop took place on Friday, but the Houston Chronicle suggests the backstory might not be quite that simple.
The Chronicle reports that according to a dispatcher from the office, the video may have been taken a few years ago, potentially 2016, and posted on Facebook now because the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office is “having a bit of trouble filling some job vacancies.”
As evidence, the outlet notes that about a month before posting the video, the sheriff’s office announced some job vacancies on Facebook, in a post that is right under the now viral video. “ATTENTION!! Brooks County Sheriff’s Office will be accepting applications for position of a FULL-TIME DEPUTY (Traffic Division),” the announcement reads, followed by a summary of the position.
“Almost a month later, the office, located in a county less than 70 miles from the Texas-Mexico border, decided it needed to be a little bit more … direct with its job recruiting campaign,” the Chronicle reports. Attempts to get more details from officials went unanswered and the office provides no information about arrests or reports on its website, opening the door to speculation about the details of the case.
Regardless of when it happened or the office’s motive for posting it, the wild incident, which took place about an hour north of the southern border, has certainly sparked interest online and prompted more (mostly comical) debate about illegal immigration and the crisis at the border. A few examples of some of the over 9,000 comments on the video:
“Oh yeah we don’t need secure borders!!”
“Nothing to see here! Nancy Pelosi is driving.”
“I’m kinda of an old rancher , but I can still tell when a pick-up truck is way over loaded with undocumented democrats!”
“I’m not so sure Ringling Bros Circus could have performed that any better.”
“And we don’t have a problem. Give me a break. Build the damm wall.”