Police officers in Evansville, Indiana recently pointed their guns at a pregnant Black woman as she sat in her car and ate ice cream. The incident was an example of someone weaponizing the police.
Most people are aware of the tactic referred to as SWATting where someone calls police to claim a hostage situation or something else requiring a heavily armed response is happening at an innocent person’s home. But false 911 calls citing lesser crimes are equally dangerous for their innocent targets.
As the bodycam video captured, at least one officer drew his firearm immediately upon approaching the woman’s car. After directing the woman, later identified as La’Tasha Tyler to slowly walk backward towards the police cruiser, had her kneel in gravel at the edge of some standing water and the officer handcuffed her.
The footage was shared with the public by the Evansville Police Department.
The officers then explained that “[her] car and license plate were given as the description of people that just pulled a gun.”
The young woman repeatedly explained that she “just came to get some ice cream.”
Still, the officers searched her car, though not before one officer acknowledged his skepticism about the 911 call.
“I think this is going to be complete bull sh**.”
“I’m gonna say that somebody’s probably just pi**ed off at this little girl.”
Following the search—which yielded zero results—one officer attempted to explain:
“We’re not trying to hold you up or anything and we know it’s embarrassing to you and we’re sorry.”
“I want you to understand that…I truly do.”
Nonetheless, he demanded she provide her personal identifying information.
Following the incident, the young woman expressed her anger in a Facebook post, which the Evansville Police Department later cited in its statements regarding the incident.
After her post was shared nearly 1700 times, the Evansville Police Department responded with multiple posts on their Facebook page.
In addition to including her original post, the department also included the bodycam footage and the original 911 call that precipitated the officers’ arrival to the scene.
You can listen to that call here:
That 911 call’s audio revealed the report that led to the officer’s locked and loaded arrival.
The caller claimed:
“She has a gun in her car, she’s fighting with another girl and she’s pulling a gun on them.”
According to the Courier & Press, Evansville Police Department spokesman Nick Winsett later addressed the incident in a Facebook Live press conference. He supplied the following explanation for the officers’ use of their weapons.
“Due to the report of a firearm being pointed at someone, the arriving officers conducted a high-risk traffic stop.”
He also reacted to the woman’s Facebook post, which he characterized as full of “disparaging comments,” saying that “none of these things were true.”
Winsett also went on to speak with the Courier & Press directly.
“This is policing 101. What those officers did was textbook.”
As for the 911 call, the caller was later identified by police who decided not to charge the person, citing mental health issues.
After seeing the bodycam footage, many Facebook users expressed sympathy for the young woman.
We’re grateful nobody was hurt in the incident.