Department defends officer who held passenger at gunpoint during traffic stop

Police said nine-minute-long cellphone video did not show the entire incident.

— -- A Northern California police department has spoken out, defending the actions of an officer who was captured on video pointing his gun for more than nine minutes at a passenger in a car during a traffic stop.

The Campbell Police Department said that on July 26, the motorcycle officer pulled a vehicle over on Highway 101 for speeding and asked the driver for her license and additional paperwork.

"Both the driver and passenger spent several minutes looking for the requested paperwork. The officer informed the occupants to wait in the vehicle as he prepared to walk back to his motorcycle to write a citation," the Campbell Police Department said in a statement. "It was at that time that the passenger began reaching under his seat. It is not clear why the passenger chose to reach under the seat since the officer was not requesting any other paperwork."

Campbell police told ABC News today that the passenger was also looking in the glove compartment. The officer then asked the passenger to stop and wait while his back was turned. The passenger continued reaching down, the police said, despite the officer's requests to stop.

In its statement, the department said the "unexpected movement" caused the officer to feel threatened and pull out his gun.

In the video that was posted July 29 on social media, the officer can be seen pointing his gun at the vehicle's passenger as the driver tapes the incident on a cellphone. Both ask the officer why he's pointing the gun at them.

"We were looking for the f-- paperwork," the passenger says.

"I understand that," the officer says. "Don't move."

The officer later says over his radio that the passenger was "reaching for something under the seat."

"You asked for registration. You asked for paperwork. That's what we were looking for. That's what happened, bro. We were looking for the paperwork you asked for and you pulled a gun on me," the passenger says.

"I see the paper but I also see a screwdriver on the floor," the officer tells the passenger. "Just hang tight for me, OK? We're going to deal with all this in just a second, OK?"

In the video, the passenger's hands are visibly up.

Today, Campbell Police Capt. Gary Berg said: "The nine minutes are unfortunate."

The department said in its statement that the video did not show the entire incident, which, it said, began about five minutes prior to the video starting. The department said it had watched the footage from the officer's bodycam, which was recording during the traffic stop.

"The officer requested additional officers respond to assist him so that he could safely resolve the situation. ... We understand that it is never a comfortable position to have a gun pointed at you, regardless of whether it is a police officer. Unfortunately, the length of time that the officer's gun was drawn lasted much longer than normal based on his location," the department said. "If this same situation would have occurred closer to backup officers, it would most likely have been resolved much sooner. However, since this occurred on the side of Highway 101 during rush hour traffic, it took an extended amount of time until other officers could arrive and provide assistance in safely resolving the situation."

According to the department, the passenger and driver were issued citations for speeding and not wearing a seatbelt. They were let go.

Police did not release the identity of the officer. Attempts to reach the driver and passenger of the car were unsuccessful.

ABC News' Jennifer Harrison contributed to this story.