There are countless headlines and videos of police officers obviously profiling Black citizens who are going about their everyday activities. Now one Black police officer in Detroit has found that his badge does not make him immune.
On June 6, Christopher Williams was among about 100 plainclothes officers who attended a session at the city’s police training center, the same place where officers are required to complete diversity training. Williams said his girlfriend, also an officer who participated in the training, gave him $5,000 she withdrew from her account to purchase money orders for bills. According to ABC News, after a full day of training, Williams encountered a white officer in the bathroom who saw him put the cash in his pocket. That same officer later approached Williams in the parking lot, threw him against a fence and handcuffed him.
“You’re not supposed to have that kind of money,” Williams said he remembered the officer saying to him.
Williams said his girlfriend had to show the white officer her bank withdrawal receipt before he was freed.
Assistant Police Chief James White, who is Black, was not so quick to denounce the actions of the white officer involved.
“I’d like to see what happened,” White said in a brief statement on the department’s Facebook page. “To say that it’s a racial component, I’ve got someone in the bathroom with a very large sum of money on him and an inquiry is being made as to where did you get the money. That’s not unreasonable to me.”
White also went on to say that the second thing he would look at in the situation is where the cash came from and why Williams had it. The chief also casually defended the white officer by noting that there were also people in the building who were not officers, as there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the building that day.
While White did have some questions for Williams, he also had some for the unidentified white officer.
“One of the things that I’d be trying to find out is at what point did the officer identify himself as a police officer, which is required by our policy — that once you’re engaged in confrontation or conversation relative to an investigation, you should identify yourself as a member of our agency,” White said.
Williams’ attorney Todd Perkins called White’s response “shameful” as it required his client to justify having money.
“My client was injured by this — mentally,” Perkins said. “He’s distraught. There has to be some remuneration that comes to my client. He doesn’t want this to happen to anyone.”