A “terry stop,” or the brief detention of someone for suspicious activity, is a tool of the law enforcement trade, but it typically requires a “reasonable suspicion.”
However, for a Pontiac, Michigan cop, that reasonable suspicion consisted of a black man walking with his hands in his pocket outdoors on a cold day.
The incident was caught on video, and you can see it below.
The video begins with the cop making the terry stop of the man and explaining that “you were walking by” and making people nervous.
“They said you had your hands in your pocket,” the officer said.
“Wow, walking by having your hands in your pockets makes people nervous to call the police when it’s snowing outside?” the man asked. “There’s 10,000 people in Pontiac right now with their hands in their pockets, so how many—”
“You’re right,” the cop replied. “But we do have a lot of robberies, so just checking on you. You’re fine, you’re good.”
It’s not known whether the police officer stopped the checkup short because of recent racial tensions stemming from the Ferguson riots, but he was wise to let this one go. Nevertheless, the power of the web seems to escalate these types of actions, thus intensifying the perception of unfair targeting based on race.
That was my impression, but I’ll let you see for yourself.
The Daily Dot had some criticisms for the Pontiac police department.
“In the end, it’s hard to tell what’s scarier about the video,” writes EJ Dickson, “the fact that a black man is stopped for walking the streets of his neighborhood with his hands in his pockets, or that this is clearly business as usual for the Pontiac police force.”
The death of Michael Brown has certainly touched off a discussion in this country as to whether police officers are doing their job in good faith, or if they are unnecessarily pointing attention at black men.
To be fair to the officer in the Michael Brown case, he was let go of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of Brown, and Brown had been caught on video prior to the incident stealing from a convenience store. Physical evidence also seemed to support the officer’s story that he was attacked by Brown while sitting in his squad car.
Nevertheless, that incident and quieter ones like that shown above, have sparked many in the African-American community to question police motivations.
Do you think the terry stop officer above did anything wrong?
[Image via ShutterStock]