Indiana officer fired after telling black men he had the right ‘to do anything I want’

2019-11-20 17:00:47

INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana law enforcement officer who was caught on camera confronting two black men while he was off-duty working security for Nordstrom Rack has been fired from his day job after a viral video of his interaction was shared with his supervisors.

On Nov. 12, former Lawrence Township Deputy Constable Daryl Jones, who is white, got into a heated exchange with two black customers. One of the men filmed the incident and later posted it to YouTube with the title “Harassed by low-life racist cop for spending big money.”

The video shows Jones approaching the men in their vehicle and repeatedly demanding that the driver provide identification. The officer said the men were acting suspiciously and declined to identify himself. The men in the car say the incident started when Jones targeted them and attempted to run their plates.

At one point, Jones leans into the car window and yells, “I got my rights to do anything I want to do! I’m a police officer!”

The confrontation ends after a Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer arrives at the scene and tells the men that while Jones could run their license plates, he should not have asked them for identification unless he suspected a crime had taken place. The IMPD officer says he saw no reason to believe a crime had taken place.

Lawrence Township Constable Terry Burns viewed the video. Burns told IndyStar that Jones was terminated on Nov. 13 for his actions as captured on video. 

Burns declined to comment further on the now-viral incident.

TV station WRTV-TV identified the men in the car as Aaron Blackwell and Durell Cunningham. “I just feel violated from my rights and how he went about the situation, it wasn’t professional,” Cunningham told the station.

The viral video of the incident had been viewed more than 400,000 times on YouTube as of Wednesday afternoon.

The video

The 17-minute video begins with the two shoppers in their car. They explain in the video description that they had just left the store, where they said they had purchased more than $1,000 worth of merchandise. As they pulled away from the parking lot, Jones yelled that he was going to run their license plate.

Concerned and confused by Jones’ statement, the men circled back to the front of the store to speak with him. The video shows Jones pulling up in his unmarked vehicle, getting out and approaching the shoppers’ car from the driver’s side.

Jones immediately tells the men to show him their identifications. The men ask why Jones needs to see their identifications, since this was not a traffic stop. 

“Because you want to run your mouth to me,” Jones says on the video. “I’m doing an investigation.”

The shoppers then ask for Jones to call his supervisor to the scene and tell him that he has no right to ask for their IDs or run their plates.

Jones says he isn’t calling his supervisor before learning into the car window and yelling, “I got my rights to do anything I want to do! I’m a police officer!”

The shoppers then ask Jones for his name and proof that he is a law enforcement officer. Jones briefly shows the badge on his hip, but he never provides his name or the law enforcement agency he works for.

When asked again by the shoppers why he approached them, asked for their IDs and wanted to run their license plate, Jones says “because you look suspicious.”

After several minutes of both sides demanding that the other identify themselves, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department office arrives at the scene. The shoppers express relief at his arrival.

“That’s IMPD. He’s got some sense,” one of the shoppers says. 

Editor’s note: The video below contains profanity and language that some readers may find offensive.

Jones tells the IMPD officer that the men did not steal anything and that no one from Nordstrom Rack loss prevention contacted him. Jones acknowledges the men purchased all of the items filling the backseat of their vehicle. 

The IMPD officer then asks Jones what the two men did that made them suspicious. 

“He was calling me out in my car,” Jones responds.

The IMPD officer and Jones then walk out of the video’s frame to have an off-camera conversation. A few moments later, Jones can be heard on camera saying “you’re free to go.” He then walks past without making eye contact with the shoppers and refusing their final request for his name, badge number and affiliated law enforcement agency.

The IMPD officer later explains to the shoppers that while Jones could run the license plate “for any reason or no reason,” he did require “reasonable suspicion” to stop them. The officer says based on his understanding of the situation, there was no reason for the shoppers to be pulled over or for them to have to identify themselves. 

IMPD did not provide the name of the officer and declined to comment on the incident. Nordstrom Rack has not yet responded to IndyStar’s request for comment. 

The shoppers and Jones exchanged final jibes as the customers pulled away. 

Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, Ryan Miller and Joel Shannon USA TODAY. Follow Justin L. Mack on Twitter: @justinlmack.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana officer fired after being accused of racial profiling in video

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