A Colorado police officer is under investigation after video surfaced of him drawing his weapon on a man who was picking up trash in front of his own house. The New York Times is reporting that officials at the Boulder Police Department have placed the officer on leave and are investigating the incident, which Chief of Police Greg Testa called “extremely concerning.”
The confrontation, which took place last Friday afternoon, involved an African-American man who was briefly detained by officers after they confronted him while he was picking up trash in a fenced-off patio area in front of the building that the owners call a “co-housing community.” They reportedly asked him if he was allowed to be there.
The man replied that he lived and worked there, and gave the officer his school identification card when he was asked for ID. The officer then called for backup, saying the man was “being uncooperative and refused to put down a blunt object.” Throughout the incident, the man can be seen holding onto the metal grabber and bucket he had been using to pick up garbage in front of the building.
The officer – who was eventually joined by seven or eight other officers and a supervisor – can be seen telling the man to “drop the weapon” even as he points his gun at the man. One of the other officers to arrive on the scene can be seen holding a shotgun.
“I don’t have a weapon!” the clearly frustrated man says. “This is my property. I live here.”
“You’re on my property with a gun in your hand, threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash.”
The officer then explains that the confrontation is continuing because the man won’t put down his “weapon.”
“You said this is a weapon?” the man asks, clacking the trash grabber in the air. “Do you feel like this is threatening?”
Eventually another resident at the building came out and spoke to the officers, explaining that the man does indeed live and work there. The officers could then be seen conferring before they explained they would be taking no further action, and they left.
However, the incident has roiled the community of Boulder, a largely affluent, white, and purportedly liberal community. Residents descended on a City Council meeting at which Chief Testa attempted to address their concerns amid a sea of “Black Lives Matter” signs, and with many residents clacking metal trash grabbers at him as he spoke.
“This is an extremely concerning issue, and one that we are taking very seriously,” Chief Testa said.
The officer who originally confronted the man is on leave, and the department’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.