In part 1 of this post, we discussed a recent situation where a 21-year-old man was confronted by four CSPD officers, with guns drawn, because he was trying to break into his own car. That’s a lot of force, considering the 911 caller had specifically said the suspect was unarmed, no one was in danger, and he wasn’t even sure a crime was even being committed.
An innocent person was assumed to be, and treated like, a dangerous criminal. Was it because he’s black? It’s a reasonable question when more than one Colorado Springs resident has reported experiencing it.
“I really want people to understand” the young man in this case says, “that you can comply to everything and … still be looked at as a criminal regardless of what you’re doing and regardless of what the situation is.”
“It hurts and it’s not OK in our society when you feel in fear of the police and that’s what it was,” he adds. “I was in fear for the police, I did not feel safe. I did not feel they were doing what they were doing out of safety. It felt like an attack.”
Is ‘draw guns, handcuff and search first; ask questions later’ official CSPD policy?
Racial profiling is hard to prove, but the officers’ behavior here raised questions. CSPD regulations presumably require arrest reports — and probably incident reports when an officer draws a gun on a suspect. None of the four officers filed any report, which might have shielded the incident from any supervisory review.
But after this and other recent allegations of excessive force against African-Americans by the CSPD, the ACLU stepped in. The group recently sent a letter seeking a swift internal investigation into this “remarkable show of force under the circumstances,” along with the seemingly unconstitutional search and arrest. We need to know if racial bias or another factor was responsible.
“Beyond the legality of the officers’ conduct,” the letter adds, “we ask the Colorado Springs Police Department to seriously consider if this is how it wants its officers engaging with community members.”
“When community members of color… are approached with unearned distrust by CSPD officers, the CSPD can only expect such distrust in return.”
We expect the police to investigate a possible car theft, but we don’t expect — and can’t allow — them to descend on potentially innocent people with guns drawn.