“I was inside my apartment and slipping off my shoes when I heard a man’s voice and what sounded like a small dog whimpering outside, near my front window,” Fay Wells [above] writes at washintonpost.com. “I imagined a loiterer and opened the door to move him along. I was surprised to see a large dog halfway up the staircase to my door. I stepped back inside, closed the door and locked it. I heard barking. I approached my front window and loudly asked what was going on. Peering through my blinds, I saw a gun. A man stood at the bottom of the stairs, pointing it at me.” Question: was the man with the gun in police uniform? Ms. Wells doesn’t say. But what happened next was scary enough . . .
I stepped back and heard: “Come outside with your hands up.” I thought: This man has a gun and will kill me if I don’t come outside. At the same time, I thought: I’ve heard this line from policemen in movies. Although he didn’t identify himself, perhaps he’s an officer.
Although drug thugs have pretended to be police to invade homes, I reckon any sensible person would do what Ms. Wells did: come out of their dwelling slowly, with their empty hands in plain view. Most of us would be equally shocked to discover nineteen armed cops waiting, two of whom with guns pointed in our direction.
“What’s going on?” I asked again. Two police officers had guns trained on me. They shouted: “Who’s in there with you? How many of you are there?”
I said it was only me and, hands still raised, slowly descended the stairs, focused on one officer’s eyes and on his pistol. I had never looked down the barrel of a gun or at the face of a man with a loaded weapon pointed at me. In his eyes, I saw fear and anger. I had no idea what was happening, but I saw how it would end: I would be dead in the stairwell outside my apartment, because something about me — a 5-foot-7, 125-pound black woman — frightened this man with a gun. I sat down, trying to look even less threatening, trying to de-escalate. I again asked what was going on. I confirmed there were no pets or people inside.
Later, I learned that the Santa Monica Police Department had dispatched 19 officers after one of my neighbors reported a burglary at my apartment. It didn’t matter that I told the cops I’d lived there for seven months, told them about the locksmith, offered to show a receipt for his services and my ID.
It didn’t matter that I went to Duke, that I have an MBA from Dartmouth, that I’m a vice president of strategy at a multinational corporation. It didn’t matter that I’ve never had so much as a speeding ticket. It didn’t matter that I calmly, continually asked them what was happening. It also didn’t matter that I didn’t match the description of the person they were looking for — my neighbor described me as Hispanic when he called 911.
What mattered was that I was a woman of color trying to get into her apartment — in an almost entirely white apartment complex in a mostly white city — and a white man who lived in another building called the cops because he’d never seen me before.
Oy vey. Ms. Wells offers no proof that she was a victim of racial profiling by the police. No one called her names. She doesn’t mention the racial identity of any of the officers involved (not that it would matter). I can only assume that her assumption of racial prejudice by the police is based entirely on her own prejudice against them.
Perhaps the Santa Monica police should have knocked on Ms. Wells’ door to assess the situation, rather than arrive in force with guns drawn in a SWAT-style raid. Perhaps not. The 911 caller who triggered the police response (available at the link) tells the operator there’s been a break-in with “a guy and two girls” who had “tools” they used to enter the apartment. The neighbor describes a male (with a hat) and says the male had two female accomplices. So the cops were responding to a report of a robbery involving multiple suspects.
To their shame, neither Ms. Wells nor the Post make any mention of this call. Nor did the Post investigate whether or not there had been prior break-ins in that neighborhood and, if there had been, if they’d been violent. So what we have here is a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the police response to a 911 call to further an anti-cop agenda. And a neighbor with a grudge who should be prosecuted for filing a false report. Nothing more, nothing less. IMHO. Your thoughts?