*A sheriff’s deputy stopped a black man walking down a Michigan street because he had his hands inside of his pockets. Obviously, this is a new rule – the whole “No walking with your hands in your pocket…if you’re black, thing.
The gentleman says he believes he was the victim of racial discrimination.
But the local sheriff’s department defends the deputy and argues that he acted appropriately, and says video of the incident doesn’t tell the full story.
Brandon McKean, 25, talked to the Huffington Post and said he was walking the one mile to his friend’s house in Pontiac, Michigan, before heading home for dinner. It was approximately 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, a day that was near freezing, and caused the man to place his hands in his pockets.
After a few minutes McKean said an Oakland County sheriff’s deputy drove up, got out of the car and questioned him. McKean began filming with his phone.
“You were walking by … well you were making people nervous,” the deputy says in the video McKean recorded, above. “They said you had your hands in your pockets.”
“Wow, walking by having your hands in your pockets makes people nervous to call the police, when it’s snowing outside?” McKean responds.
“They did,” the deputy says. “I’m just checking on you.”
McKean posted the video on Facebook to show friends the unjust treatment he had endured, but true to form, the video went viral within minutes, and many outraged posts followed. By Tuesday, the video had been seen more than 3 million times, according to Facebook’s stats, and had circulated widely, from Gawker to “The Colbert Report.”
According to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, McKeans’ clip distorts the truth. The sheriff claims it doesn’t clarify the reason for the stop and leaves out context. The video McKean shot cuts off prematurely so we don’t get to hear the deputy explaining the reason for the stop – which in my opinion should’ve been done first.
Bouchard told HuffPost he believes the video “was posted with an agenda.”
The sheriff says it was a 911 call placed by a business owner who claims he saw a man walk by his shop six or seven times looking in the windows with his hands in his pockets. The caller thought the man was planning on robbing the business – which had reportedly already been robbed seven times.
Bouchard would not name the deputies who were dispatched nor the business, but said they had determined the person the 911 caller described was McKean, “without question.” After the furor over the video, the sheriff’s office posted their own video, which the deputy had also recorded with a phone.
“It boils down to this, if someone calls 911, do you want the police to come or not?” Bouchard said. “A police officer responded, made a quick ascertainment of the situation and determined that nothing else was needed, didn’t pat down an individual, never detained an individual, called off secondary units and left. I think that was a very restrained, very professional approach.”
McKean denies to The Huffington Post that the suspicious person spotted by the business owner was him; saying he hadn’t walked the stretch that many times.
“Given the sensitivity and the anxiety for a lot of people around this country, it’s not helpful to the dialogue and certainly not helpful to keep the community the safe,” said Bouchard, who added that his department continually uses controversial issues like what is happening in Ferguson as training for the staff. The training includes cultural sensitivity.
McKean, who says he has been stopped numerous times, did not agree with how police handled the incident in Pontiac, even though he told the deputy he was glad officers were around to patrol.
“The crazy thing is, I know somebody who got their house broken into and they called the police, and the police took about two hours to come,” he said. “And they came and pulled up on me in under five minutes for walking with my hands in [my] pockets, and that doesn’t make sense.”
And was it adding insult to injury when the deputy asked McKean for a ‘high five?’
See the video report directly below.