The white woman was trying to be a good samaritan when she called police on a black man entering his car and driving away in a suburban Chicago town, thinking he had stolen it.
But Lawrence Crosby owned the Chevrolet and figured he would drive to a local police station in Evanston to prove it after realizing the woman was following him.
The 25-year-old engineering doctorate student from Northwestern University was accustomed to being profiled because of his race as he revealed in a phone conversation with a friend recorded by his dash cam that evening on October 10, 2015.
But the woman who remained on the phone with Evanston police as she followed him insisted she was not racially profiling. She just found it suspicious that a black man with a hoodie appeared to be using some type of bar to jimmy the car door open.
“I don’t know if I’m racial profiling,” the woman said in a conversation to the dispatcher as she followed him. “I feel bad.”
Crosby, in fact, had been trying to fix the moulding on the roof of his car, but it was dark. And he was dark.
And although many white people don’t like to admit it, racial profiling does takes place on the streets of the United States daily. Even police officers admit it. Black police officers, that is.
“You know how it is with black people,” Crosby said in his phone conversation with his friend. “They think we’re always trying to do something wrong.”
Evanston police eventually pulled up behind him and flashed their lights, signaling for him to pull over.
Crosby quickly pulled into a parking lot of a church – two blocks from the Evanston Police Department – then stepped out with his hands in the air, his cell phone in his left hand as the cops began yelling “hands up!”.
He stood there with his hands in the air for a few more seconds until one cop yells, “get on the ground!”.
And when he didn’t drop to the ground in a millisecond, several cops pounced on him, punching and kneeing him, piling on top of him while ordering him to “turn around” and to “stop resisting.”
But it’s impossible to turn around when several cops are piling on top of you, which allowed them to justify the beating by claiming he was “not complying.”
Even after they learned the car was registered to Crosby, police still charged him with disobeying officers and resisting police, charges that were dismissed by a judge in March 2016.
Crosby has since filed a lawsuit, which is still pending.
But video and audio evidence of the arrest, including footage from Crosby’s car and the police car as well as a recording of the conversation between the female caller and police were released for the first time last week.
One cop can be heard telling another cop that Crosby should be grateful they did not kill him in the video posted below.
“I said, I didn’t shoot you, motherfucker,” the cop says. “You should feel lucky for that.”
Later in the video, a cop who appears to be a supervisor is explaining to the other officers how they can charge him anyway, despite the fact that he did not steal the car.
“We’ve got him on camera. We gave him orders. He wouldn’t comply. You know, he’s got a ton of police cars around and he thinks he’s going to do whatever the fuck he wants,” the officer says.
Although the Evanston Police Department declared the use of force justified, Evanston Alderman Brian Miller was outraged over the video, which is what prompted its release.
Miller, who is white, is also running for mayor in an April election on a platform to reduce unnecessary police abuse incidents, especially against black citizens, a commitment he made last year when a study revealed there is a deep distrust between the city’s black community and its police force.
Evanston Alderman Brian Miller, who is running for Mayor, said he was infuriated at what the video showed, particularly in light of the fact that there have been five incidents in the last two years where he says police have not de-escalated minor incidents.
He pushed for the release of the video and says this case needs to be a wakeup call for the Evanston Police Department.
“I understand being a police officer is a tough job, but we need them to exercise judgment in their day to day operations. And in this situation, within ten seconds of Mr. Crosby getting out of his car with his hands in the air, he was tackled, he was kneed while he was standing up, then he was punched repeatedly by multiple officers, for allegedly stealing his own car. Our police officers need to be better than that,” Alderman Miller said.
Some of those proposals will include spending up to $400,000 buying new dash cams and body cams, but as we can see in the video below, cameras are not a remedy from police abusing their power and trying to destroy a man’s life in order to cover up for their abuse.
The real problem is that police have learned they can abuse citizens and get away with it by exaggerating claims of citizens not complying or citizens making them fear for their lives.
And that includes police officers of any color abusing citizens of any color. As we’ve seen, police become loyal to the color blue once they get sworn in.
And in this case, the Evanston Police Department were sure to have a black officer explain to viewers in the video below that Crosby was resisting and not complying, in case you failed to see it on your own.
What is not impossible to see is that Evanston police were basing their actions on a single phone call from a white woman who thought she may have seen something.
Had Crosby seen the woman fixing the molding on her car, then called police to report a possibly car theft in progress, would they have reacted the same way had she stepped out of her car with her arms in the air?
It’s highly unlikely.
But “the call” is what has left so many innocent citizens abused, jailed or dead over the years. Over-reactionary cops – who are normally suspicious of everything we tell them – taking it as gospel that the caller is telling the truth.
And if it’s not the call, it the bias from police themselves as one black man from New York City claimed in a lawsuit filed against the NYPD; an army veteran who said he was arrested for walking his dog in a public park after midnight, even though there was a white man playing fetch with his dog in the same park at the same time.
(Najja) Plowden — a married father who served in Afghanistan and now works as an occupational therapist for special education students — was taken to the 77th Precinct after the cops dropped off Lily Cat, his pitbull-terrier mix, at his Dean St. home.
While Plowden was in custody, Loweth, who is white, allegedly made disparaging comments to Plowden, an African-American man, that included “your culture is more problematic, more violent, more prone to crime,” and “you wouldn’t have been stopped and detained if you’d been a white guy in a park at night on the Upper East Side,” according to the lawsuit.
“I started to tear up because I’m a 35-year-old black man, a veteran, with no criminal record,” Plowden told the Daily News. “I said, ‘Please, do not do this. Why are you doing this?’
“He started to laugh, (and) asked if I was crying. I said, ‘No, this is emotional,’” Plowden said.
Loweth also allegedly spent much of the night lecturing Plowden with pro-Donald Trump rhetoric, bragging that the President-elect will support policing in minority neighborhoods and end the “abuse of resources” like food stamps and welfare by “ghetto” residents, the lawsuit says.
And while there does not appear to be a recording of the cop’s berating remarks about Plowden’s race, we have seen videos of cops making similar remarks to other black citizens they have arrested unlawfully as in the case of a white Austin police officer telling a handcuffed black schoolteacher that black people are more prone to violence – after white police officers violently arrested her over a minor traffic stop.
Seguino outlined key findings including stop rates and post-stop outcomes. “So here’s what we found at the state level: black drivers are arrested at twice the rate of white drivers. We also found that black drivers are searched at four times the rate of white drivers and that Hispanic drivers are searched at a rate that is almost three times the rate of white drivers.
Although the search rates are higher than white or Asian drivers, Asian and white drivers are more likely to be found with contraband than are black and Hispanic drivers. We also found that amongst drivers stopped black and Hispanic drivers were more likely to be given a citation than are white drivers.”
No, that is not a typo. Although blacks and Hispanics get pulled over and searched at a higher rate than whites and Asians in Vermont, whites and Asians are more likely to be found with contraband.
And in another study, the ACLU established that black people are more than four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, even though both races use marijuana at equal rates.
But then again, we’ve seen black police officers as well as Hispanic and Asian police officers abuse their power as much as white officers, so there is no quick fix-it to the obvious problem of police abuse.
The one thing we can do as citizens is not call police unless we are absolutely certain that a crime is in progress because you’re only giving them the green light to abuse innocent citizens.