A police department in Michigan came under fire after video shared on social media showed a Black man being questioned by officers after a white woman claimed he looked at her “suspiciously” and took photos of her and her son.
Police said the incident began when the woman called 911 and said she was uncomfortable because a man was circling her car, looking at her, and was potentially taking photos of her and her son. Authorities released the 2-minute, 30-second call on August 15.
During the call, the woman claimed the man, later identified as Devin Myers, was staring at her and her son as he sat in his car on the street. “I don’t know what his deal is but… it’s making me not so very comfortable at all,” she told the 911 operator.
Video of the incident, which was shared by Kimiko Adolf on Facebook, shows two white officers with the Royal Oak Police Department (ROPD) approaching Myers and questioning him for nearly 20 minutes on August 13 outside of the Inn Season Cafe, a local restaurant in Royal Oak.
The officers involved demanded Myers show his identification, to which Myers responded by asking what crime he had committed. He added that he did not think he needed to show his ID. Myers then requested a supervisor come to the scene. A supervisor eventually arrived and kept Myers for a few more minutes. Myers was not handcuffed or arrested.
Adolph, who recorded more than 14 minutes of the confrontation, applauded Myers for remaining “cool, calm, and collected” during the incident. She added that she was glad she was there to record.
Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue apologized to Myers for the “unfortunate incident” in a statement issued on August 15. O’Donohue acknowledged that the officer involved had no legal right to demand Myers provide identification and should have allowed him to leave after telling him why police were there.
“The officer involved is a new, probationary officer and he made a mistake. This officer will be provided with remedial training to address this issue,” O’Donohue said.
The police chief also noted that the officer failed to call for a supervisor when Myers requested one. The second officer on the scene did call a supervisor, but did not act to the standards set by the department, O’Donohue said.
“The responding supervisor did not handle this situation in a manner I expect Royal Oak supervisors to conduct themselves. He did quickly advise Mr. Myers that he was free to go; however, he did not effectively look into the situation or allow those present the opportunity to express their concerns,” the police chief said. “This is not the practice of the Royal Oak Police Department and it is not acceptable.”
O’Donohue said the supervisor was disciplined and that every department supervisor has received additional training in procedural justice. “This is an unfortunate incident where the ROPD did not live up to our own standards,” O’Donohue said. “Corrective action has been taken and we will continue to hold all members of the ROPD to the highest standards.”
In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Myers said that O’Donohue apologized to him personally during a meeting on August 15. The 20-year-old called the experience traumatizing and unacceptable.
“It had my anxiety high.… It’s scary,” Myers told the newspaper. “It’s something that nobody wants to go through.”
Myers told the Free Press that he was merely waiting for the woman to pull out of a parking spot to park his own car. He eventually moved to another parking spot. As he was walking to the restaurant to meet with his friends, he was stopped by an officer, who told him a woman had reported him as suspicious.
Myers did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment.
After the incident, Myers walked into the restaurant, Inn Season Cafe manager Erin Frey told the Detroit Free Press. Frey said she believed officers did not handle the situation properly. “I understand police have to come and respond,” she said. However, she added that there was no reason for the first officer who responded to “handle it so aggressively right from the get-go.” The restaurant paid for Myers and his friend’s dinner, Frey said.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.