Last week, an Indiana law enforcement official was fired from his position after a video of his unnecessary confrontation with two Black men went viral.
Durell Cunningham and Aaron Blackwell, who are cousins, recently had a run-in with Lawrence Township Deputy Constable Daryl Jones, who attempted to take their information on account of what he called “suspicious behavior.”
The cousins regularly spend time together, and the afternoon they ran into Jones was no exception. They were shopping at Nordstrom Rack, where they purchased a variety of items.
While in the checkout line, they noticed Jones watching them from across the store.
The situation became a little more strange when Blackwell returned their shopping carts to the store and observed as Jones not only continued to watch them, but also exited the store and returned to his car at the same time they did.
As Cunningham pulled out of their parking spot, the two men could see Jones now driving in their direction in the parking lot, so Blackwell began filming a video on his phone.
In the video, the car slowed down to allow multiple customers to approach or leave one of the stores at the outlet mall. As they were about to leave, Jones approached their car and began to demand to see Cunningham’s ID.
Jones approached their driver’s side window from across the crosswalk and said:
“Get your driver’s license out.”
When asked why he needed to see an I.D., Jones replied:
“Because I told you to.”
Cunningham said he needed a reason to show him his license, to which Jones said:
“I’ll tell you what, you either get your driver’s license out, or I’ll call for a backup.”
Throughout the 17-minute video, Cunningham attempted to ask why Jones needs to see his driver’s license. He also asked for Jones’ name and to speak to a supervisor.
Jones, in response, not only asked to see Cunningham’s driver’s license, but he refused to give his name or read his badge ID number. He also would not call for a supervisor, but did call for back-up for himself and threatened to tow the men’s car if they did not comply.
Cunningham and Blackwell continued to ask for additional information, insistent that Jones must have a reason for running their plates and for asking for Cunningham’s ID. They also pointed out that he couldn’t have their car towed, just because they didn’t show him an ID.
To these requests, Jones replied:
“I got my rights to do anything I want to do. I’m a police officer.”
You can see the full video here:
In the last few minutes of the video, one officer appeared as back-up, but from a neighboring county.
After Jones gave the fellow officer conflicting information about his exchange with Cunningham and Blackwell, the other officer spoke with Jones out of earshot behind Cunningham’s car for several minutes.
At the end of their exchange, Jones told the two men they could go. After, Blackwell explained the situation as it had appeared on video. The men asked for the proper steps to take to file a complaint against Jones.
Blackwell also posted the video to Youtube, where it has since gone viral.
Upon seeing the video, Chief Constable Terry Burns immediately fired Jones for the conduct he had witnessed in the video footage.
“He was terminated last night when the video was brought to my attention. I did see the video and made the decision immediately and that pretty well speaks of my reaction.”
Many have commented on the video exchange, particularly on Youtube.
“He’s not going to get a supervisor cause he know he shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing.” – Ziggy Weiner
“Good job not identifying. We all need to learn from this.” – Gregg Mattox
“This cop is mentally unstable. Hope you filed a big complaint on him. This is exactly why the public no longer trust or respect the police.” – I don’t Answer questions
“This is what domestic terrorism looks like. This needs to go VIRAL NOW and this mf pig needs to be fired and arrested.” – king zombie
“Congrats to the real officer for being an honorable person.” – diejeffy
Twitter has had a lot to say about the exchange, as well.
Good. They survived a man on a power trip and he got what he deserved.— Kls (@klsparkles) November 18, 2019
Being black while shopping— James “Jim” Luján Reese (@jimlreese) November 18, 2019
Excellent work you guys!! Hold your ground..— Ghee Bouche' (@thegbouche) November 18, 2019
This his wife? pic.twitter.com/l16ORueafa— jean genie (@jeangenie__) November 18, 2019
Fortunately, this is one instance of a police officer exchange that had a happy ending.
Engagement like this, however, needs to continue to be pointed out and resolved as it happens.
Hopefully, with further exposure, fewer and fewer of these unnecessary stops by law enforcement and confrontations will occur.