Last year, Austin, Texas police stopped a 26-year-old black teacher for speeding. Like so many stories we have heard about interactions between African-Americans and law enforcement, the situation very quickly turned ugly when it shouldn’t have. Fortunately, no one was killed or seriously injured in this incident, but what took place after the woman was arrested reveals the way some cops regard members of the black community.
It was June 15, 2015. Breaion King was stopped for speeding by officer Bryan Richter. Richter had followed her down the street, then stopped behind her when King turned into a shopping center. The entire incident was caught on dash-cam.
Richter tells King she is being stopped for speeding and asks her to get back into her car. She asks him if he can stop her for that reason because she had already parked the car. He tells her that he can. As the next few moments unfold, it appears that everything King does to comply isn’t good enough for Richter. He asks her to get in her car. She opens the door and sits down on the driver’s seat to get her license. He asks her to put her feet in the car so he can close the door. When she doesn’t do that quickly enough to suit him, Richter reaches inside for her, saying “Stop resisting” repeatedly. There is a brief struggle, then suddenly Richter pulls the petite woman out of the vehicle and throws her across an empty parking space.
All of that was bad enough, but it is the conversation King has in a patrol car with another officer, identified as Patrick Spradlin, that is the most jaw-dropping part of the entire incident. A camera mounted in the rear seat area of Spradlin’s car captures King, in handcuffs, as she talks to the officer about why police often react to African-Americans the way they do.
King asks Spradlin if he believes that there is still racism “out there.”
“Yes I do,” he replies. “But let me ask you this — do you believe it goes both ways?”
King agrees. “I do,” she tells the officer. “But I believe that, I’m not going to lie, I believe that Caucasians have more supremacy than we do, they have more rights.”
She then offers that she thinks that a lot of people are afraid of black people. Spradlin asks her, “Why do you think so many people are afraid of black people?”
“That’s what I want to figure out,” King answers. “I’m not a bad black person.”
What Spradlin says next explains a lot about why many police interact with blacks so much differently than they do with whites. He says,
I can give you a really good idea, a really good idea why it might be that way. Violent tendencies. I want you to think about that.
I’m not saying anything, I’m not saying it’s true, I’m not saying I agree with it or nothing. But 99 percent of the time, when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that is being violent, that’s why a lot of white people are afraid. And I don’t blame them.
There are some guys I look at. I know it’s my job to deal with them and I know it’s probably going to get ugly and that’s the way it goes, but some of them because of their appearance and whatnot, some of them are very intimidating.
Those words came from the mouth of just one white police officer. But, based on what we have seen over the years, it appears that there are many other cops who would say that Patrick Spradlin is right. And therein lies part of the problem with the police.
At a press conference on Thursday, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo apologized to King.
I’m sorry that on the day you were stopped for going 15 mph, you were. . . treated in a manner that is not consistent with the expectations of this police chief, of most of the officers of this department, and most importantly, of all of us as human beings. Police officers have a sworn duty to try to calm things down, approach incidents, approach people in a manner that enhances the probability that everyone gets to go on with their day, especially over a speeding ticket.
After reviewing the video, a charge of resisting arrest against King was dropped. King paid her speeding ticket, but now, over a year later, she says the incident still affects her.
I’ve become fearful to live my life. I would rather stay home. I’ve become afraid of the people who are supposed to protect me and take care of me.
The last sentence of King’s comment may be the saddest part of this entire story.
Here is video of Breaion King’s arrest, via KXAN:
Featured image via YouTube screen capture