Newly-released body camera footage from an Ohio police department is illustrating the stark difference between how officers approach Black suspects or suspects of color compared to white suspects.
In the video, as reported by Cleveland 19, two officers are seen speaking with a white man sitting in the driver’s seat of his vehicle. One officer comments on how the man is refusing to turn off his car.
The traffic stop quickly escalates as the two officers realize the man has a gun sitting on his passenger seat. As the conversation intensifies, they draw their guns and point them at the man’s face, and begin threatening to remove him from his vehicle or unleash a K9 dog on him. In response, the man reinforces his “constitutional right” to have a gun and threatens to shoot the officers.
It’s hard to watch this video without drawing parallels to the tragic murder of Philando Castille, a Black man who was killed by Minnesota police in 2016 after calmly telling officers he was registered to conceal carry a gun. While reaching for his wallet to give officers his license, he was shot to death in front of his partner and her four-year-old daughter.
The video released on Facebook by the Genoa Township Police Department is undoubtedly an attempt to illustrate these officers in a positive light for choosing not to murder this man during a traffic stop. It’s hard not to believe that if this suspect wasn’t white, things would have ended very differently. Instead the driver closed his car door in front of the officers and sped off. Police said he was eventually arrested after a lengthy pursuit.
“As you can see from the video the Trooper and Officer Sigman were engaged in a very tense situation that could have turned out tragically and both of them acted with great restraint and professionalism,” Chief Steve Gammill posted on Facebook, praising the officers.
Police later charged the suspect for improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and carrying a concealed weapon.