For police officers, they have a job to do. They do it because they love their job. They want to serve and protect. Sometimes, they have to ask certain people about what’s going on because they’re suspicious. It doesn’t mean that they’re targeting one race or another. If they’re suspicious, they’re suspicious.
For one police veteran, he lost his job because of asking the “wrong” people about their suspicious behavior.
Daryl Jones, the Lawrence Township Deputy Constable spent 20 years in the force. He was off duty at the time and working at a Nordstrom Rack in Indianapolis.
Durell Cunningham and Aaron Blackwell were visiting that same store when they noticed an officer watching them while shopping. The two men rang up their purchases. Then, allegedly, Jones followed them out of the store and attempted to take the license plate number down when they got into their vehicle.
The two men did what they could to prevent the officer from taking their license plate number down. They identify that they drove the car to the front of the parking lot, parked the car in front of the store, and began recording from their mobile device.
The video shows that Jones, who parked close by, exited his vehicle and approached the vehicle belonging to the two men. He demanded to see their identification. He also said, “You’re acting suspicious.”
Blackwell and Cunningham, two black men, refused to provide identification to the officer. Instead, they demanded that Jones identify himself. He refused and chose to call for backup.
Blackwell and Cunningham believe that they were being racially profiled. They stayed in the parking lot for backup to arrive. They also exchanged a number of heated words with Jones regarding their rights.
An officer from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department arrived at the scene for backup. Jones is heard off-camera explaining what happened to the officer. He told the officer that they got a bunch of things, were running their mouths, and prevented him from getting their license plate. He also identified that the men did not want to show their ID.
Jones and the other officer walked back to the car, though no audio was available. Soon, Jones approached the two men and told them that they were free to leave.
The unidentified officer went to the front of the vehicle to tell both Blackwell and Cunningham that whatever happened did not warrant a traffic stop. He told the two that based upon what happened, he doesn’t believe that there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime took place. He also told them that since there is no reason for a traffic stop, there were not legally required to identify themselves.
Blackwell and Cunningham pulled away from the store and were heard laughing and swearing at Jones. Jones was still sitting in his car. One man yelled one profanity while the other yelled another.
Blackwell chose to share the video on YouTube, garnering a significant amount of attention. The video has been seen over 400,000 times, with Blackwell captioning the video as being harassed by a “low-life racist cop.”
As a result of Jones and his racial profiling, he has lost his job with both Nordstrom Rack and the Township.
Terry Burns, a Lawrence Township Chief Constable identify that Jones was terminated within two hours of him watching the video. Burns acknowledged that Jones had approximately 20 years of service with the Township but took away his Constable identification, his badge, and his radio. Blackwell also identified to news outlets that he has received a significant amount of concern and sympathy regarding the incident. This includes support from other law enforcement officers.
Blackwell made sure to identify that he doesn’t want people to think that all cops are bad or that Jones represents all officers. He commented that some “really good officers” are out there and would never treat people in the way that Jones treated him and Cunningham.
While Jones may have had reason to question why the two men were in the store if they were acting suspiciously, he was off duty and should not have jumped to immediate conclusions.
Blackwell identified that he was spending big money in the store and there was no need for racial profiling because they weren’t doing anything suspicious. The unidentified officer that showed up agreed with Blackwell over Jones, which led to Jones losing his job.
With the viral video out there, at least Blackwell has acknowledged that there are plenty of good cops out there.