Police Stop and Frisk Black Man, Even Though Suspect They’re Looking for Is White
A Wisconsin man is outraged after he says he was racially profiled by police, who stopped and frisked him during an investigation into an armed robbery early Monday. The suspect they were searching for was white, however.
Deandre Pettiford-Bates, 25, detailed the incident in a lengthy Facebook post, drawing hundreds of reactions from outraged locals and even the city’s mayor, the Stevens Point Journal reported. Bates started off the post by stating his respect for police but said his experience that night was “complete and utter bullsh-t.”
“I’m biking home listening to music when this cops pulls right in front of me and yells at me to get off my bike,” he wrote. “I start off by asking if I did something wrong … he replies by saying ‘that’s what we’re figuring out. [He] pats me down, asked if I had a gun, takes off my backpack and then 3 squad cars pull up.”
That’s when Bates said officers dumped out his backpack in the middle of the street and went through his wallet, which they grabbed out of his back pocket. The young man told officers he was on his way home from work, after which they asked if he had drugs or a gun on him.
“I tell them no and to their surprise no drugs or gun,” Bates recalled. “[The officer] then tells me I match a description of the person they’re looking for … so I say ‘what black!?!'”
By 10 that morning, police had arrested a 17-year-old Antonio Cruz in connection to the crime, the newspaper reported. Cruz is described as a white male.
Stevens Point police have denied targeting Bates and said they stopped him after spotting him just blocks from where the robbery occurred. They claimed the quality of information they received about the suspect’s description was “changing quickly” at the time.
“Anybody in the area is going to get a second look especially with an armed robbery,” said Daniel Kontos, chief deputy of the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.
Bates said the encounter, which was captured on surveillance video, left him feeling criminalized, uncomfortable and confused.
“Not only did they violate, strip me of my rights, but also did not inform me of what was going on,” he wrote on Facebook. “They did whatever they wanted without due process … they assumed that because I was black that somehow I had drugs and a gun.”
“The worst part is the only thing that went through my mind was how all it takes is for me to be black to become a prime suspect in something I had nothing to do with,” Bates continued.
Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza met with the young man Thursday afternoon to discuss his concerns about the incident, the Stevens Point Journal reported. In a statement, Wiza said, “I think we both walked away with a better understanding of what transpired and why.”