A white, 28 year veteran officer was recorded making this statement to a white woman stopped on suspicion of DUI. It appears that she was uncooperative and he made the decision to arrest her. He asked her to call her friend and tell them that she no longer needed to be picked up from the location because he had made the decision to take her to jail. The woman refused to remove her hands from her steering wheel to make the phone call. She stated that she refused to do so because she had seen too many videos of officers killing people. The officer responded with “we only shoot black people right?”
I’ve been asked about this a lot so here is my opinion based on the video. Disclaimer: I am aware that people of color, who endure racism regularly, don’t have emotional space for “white tears” regarding their struggles policing in minority communities. I am explaining this situation from the perspective of a white officer, to explain why I don’t believe that this officer is a racist. This is not really the post to respond with, but black people go through… I am aware of what we endure every day. This post is to explain what I believe was this white officer’s mentality throughout this situation and I am not comparing the struggles of white officers to those that blacks deal with in this country every day because it will never be comparative.
He should not have made the comment. It was an unprofessional statement. I don’t believe that the statement classifies him as a racist. The officer’s attorney stated that he was using the logic that the white woman used to deescalate the situation. As an attorney, it is his job to create an environment in which his client is viewed in a favorable manner. He did attempt to use her logic against her, but his poor wording and phrasing made the situation distasteful.
Racial tensions are high right now. Numerous people genuinely fear the police, regardless if they have a legitimate reason to fear the police. Police misconduct exists, but majority of officers do their jobs properly. When social media and news outlets circulate stories of police misconduct and videos that aren’t misconduct, but the general public has convinced themselves that it is misconduct, that created hysteria with some groups of people who would not have felt that way, had they not seen “so many videos of it” as stated by the white woman in the video.
Arresting Some Women
I talk about this all the time. One of the most challenging things for a male officer to do is arrest a woman. This obviously doesn’t apply to all women, but some of them created the mold for this arrest profile. In general, when people are arrested for DWI/DUI offenses, they generally don’t view themselves as “real criminals.” They tend to be obnoxious and they generally “sober up” enough to panic when they realize they are going to jail. They usually have a career, family and etc. and they don’t think their crime is worthy of their arrest because it’s not like they “killed someone.” This group of people will say and do anything to get out of an arrest. I’m believe that other officers would agree, but statistically speaking from my experiences, white women are the absolute worst under these circumstances.
From an early age, females learn to manipulate people. When a two year old girl wants something, she knows to go to her daddy because he can’t stand to see her hurting or crying. Some women maintain that superpower their entire lives. It works on boyfriends, brothers, husbands, employers, service men and anyone else that possesses something that these types of women need. When a woman, who thinks that they aren’t a “real criminal,” is about to go to jail, that manipulation is amplified to level 10. When a white woman in this category does so, she transforms into Megatron Manipulator. This behavior is absolutely extreme in some white women who aren’t accustomed to not getting their way.
Men are taught not to touch women. There is nothing more awkward in policing than watching a male officer attempt to arrest a woman. They know that women can kill them. They know that their life is in danger. They still struggle to use the force necessary to arrest them because they know how society views ANY men using ANY force on women. I’ve watched male officers get assaulted by women and they didn’t follow through with their assault cases because of the social stigma associated with “complaining” about an assault from a woman. I’ve had male officers call me to their scene so that I could arrest their female arrestee because it wasn’t worth the complaints that men get from engaging women. I am not victim blaming any of the women that are actually victims of assault. I am addressing a group of women who experience “female privilege” and use it to their benefit. The most extreme cases of this behavior is exhibited from white women. They threaten to call their fathers, brothers and husbands and threaten officers. They lie and say that they will file an assault case against the officer. They scream that they were sexually assaulted when female officers search their bra areas to make sure they don’t have weapons or paraphernalia. They bang their heads on the window and say that they will claim the bruising came from an assault from the officer. They cry like a 2 year old exhibiting crocodile tears. They generate the energy to let out piercing screams that sound like they are being raped when the male officer is only holding their arm and removing them from the vehicle, that they were asked to get out of no less than 50 times already. They enjoy screaming that their father is a lawyer and that they will “have the officer’s job.” Women always play the pregnancy card, the menstrual cycle card, the you are going to make me have an abortion card and all other sensitive conditions to get out of an arrest. This is why officers aren’t moved by these statements because women lie and use them every day. Most male officers won’t admit it, but it is scary to arrest women because of the realistic looking manipulative things many of us can do because we are women. All of the excess emotion exhibited by these women is intimidating to men. I am not accusing this woman of faking her fear because I don’t know her. All I am saying is that the conversation sounded like a woman that belongs in this category of “white woman privilege.”
My White Co-workers
I’ve worked with numerous white officers and they are genuine good guys. On numerous occasions, they are called racist after greeting people. They are called derogatory names and endure racist treatment from citizens. I observed a white officer attempt to take a theft report from a black citizen and as he extended his hand and greeted her, she dove inside of her vehicle and locked the door, screaming don’t shoot me. Another black woman called the police because her son ran away from home. The white officer asked her to open the door to her home so that he could get the details of her situation and she refused to open the door. Her reason was that “ya’ll kill us.” He took the entire report through her front door. Another white officer stopped a black man and his son on a traffic stop. The exchange was extremely pleasant and both men were respectful to each other. The officer looked over at the 15 year old boy and his heart was beating through his chest and he was sweating. The white officer spoke to him and the boy jumped in fear. The white officer asked the father if he could speak with his son. He calmed the boy and showed him the lights and etc. inside of the police vehicle. The boy calmed down, but not before telling the officer that he thought he and his father would be killed. My team and I arrested a black man for a violent crime. We knocked on his door and gave him plenty of time to walk out of the house like a man. He claimed that he would not let us inside because he didn’t want us to kill his kids. We informed him that we would break his door if he did not comply. When we finally broke his door, a 6’3” 250 pound black man ran into the living room, using his 2 year old daughter as a shield, screaming “don’t kill me like ya’ll did Mike Brown.” My white co-workers were angry. They showed their vulnerable side by playing with the little girl and her toys as they waited for the child’s mother to arrive. When she arrived, she clearly saw them playing together and that her daughter was pleasantly distracted from the stress of the situation. The mother ordered the officers to get away from her baby because she doesn’t like police. I have endless stories such as these. As I looked at the faces of my white co-workers, their faces were red and I could see the frustration on their faces. My white co-workers are constantly getting into arguments with these people trying to reason with them, but it accomplishes nothing. White officers ask me all the time what they are supposed to do when people make these accusations against them. They always say that they spend all of their time in black neighborhoods, trying to fight crime and help people, but no matter the circumstances, they get called racist.
I am not throwing a pitty party for white men, but I am trying to paint a picture of their frustrations as white officers forced to go into black communities and deal with some people who behave this way. This behavior has escalated since racism and police misconduct have been such hot topics of late. Majority of good officers deal with this everyday. These officers have the right to detain and arrest these people and they can’t do their jobs because they are met with such hostility from citizens who legitimately fear police and from a larger number of people who don’t fear the police, but use the “fear of police” card to avoid arrest, or to be the next social media reporter to post the next social media viral video.
This is a coping mechanism for all the trauma that officers endure throughout their careers. You can browse articles from all over the country and see inappropriate comments made by officers. All officers need government funded counselling because it is irresponsible to make it optional and for it to not be provided for every officer. It is inhumane to do this job without a mental health plan. Sometimes, we get numb to tragedy and struggle with sensitivity when dealing with people enduring a tragedy. Hospital staff is the same way. An emergency room doctor was performing CPR on a guy shot several times in a shootout. If you know anything about CPR, you know that it is extremely tiring to perform CPR. As soon as the man died, the doctor ran out of the room. I wondered why he left so quickly. I assumed that he was emotional or something because the man died. I asked him if he was okay and he wanted to know why I asked. I told him that I saw him sprint out of the trauma room so quickly that I thought he was struggling with the fact that the man died. He said, “Hell no. I had to pee like a mutherfucker. I was glad it was over because I was about to pee on myself.” As a person that deals with death and is equally numb to it sometimes, I totally understood what he meant. Later on, he came back to explain what he meant because he realized how insensitive the comment was that he made. He said that he was sad that they couldn’t save the guy, but nature calls and he had to pee. I watched him comfort and console a family member when he cleaned up after the incident. He did an amazing job of showing compassion. In order to manage traumatic events, first responders have ALL developed a numbing sense of sarcasm, that is extremely inappropriate from the view of a citizen that doesn’t see these traumatic events often. All officers say extremely sarcastic comments in their heads, but choose to say the response that is more professional than the comment in their head. Sometimes this sarcasm is used in good taste. Sometimes it is used in horrible taste. Officers get in trouble when they don’t send their comments through their “civilian filter” before stating them. Everyone makes tacky sarcastic comments in their head about their spouses, children, bosses, friends, strangers dressed inappropriately, uncooperative customers and anyone else that stresses us out or annoys us. It’s the sinful nature of man to respond that way and we all have to fight against the urge to say those things. That natural response is amplified for officers and other career people forced to deal with trauma all day every day.
Sarcasm Gone Wrong
I heard a story of an officer who had responded to the same house 6 times because a man beat his wife to a pulp all the time. It was a smaller town, so the same officer responded there every time. He always arrived to see a woman with a bloodied face every time. Every time he went there, he begged the woman to leave the man, but she refused to do so. The officer was sensitive to domestic violence because he grew up in a home where his father beat his mother. When the husband got out of jail, he would beat her again. The next time that the officer responded to the house, the officers got into a horrendous fight with the husband. The battered woman sat in the corner and watched the whole fight. The officers were injured, but didn’t have any major injuries. As the officer tried to gather himself and look for items that fell off his uniform during the fight, the battered woman walked up to the officer and asked him if her husband had to go to jail this time. THE OFFICER SNAPPED! He said, “Hell yea this mother fucker is going to jail. I’m tired of coming over here saving your dumb ass, but you continue to stay with him.” He grabbed his stuff and walked out of the house. The battered woman was startled by the officer’s response. The response was completely inappropriate. This officer was a quiet guy and he never raised his voice at anyone. He was so frustrated with the situation because he wanted to save the woman, but she didn’t want to save herself. It was a traumatic experience for him. This experience was amplified because he just finished fighting for his life with this man. He was angry because she was repeatedly putting his life in danger for her and she wasn’t in a space to care. As angry as he was, he was still professional, until she asked him that question. This woman had the audacity to ask if this guy was going to jail and he lost it. What he should have said to the woman was that he was taking him to jail and provide her with resources for help, again. His frustration caused him to say what he was thinking, in his head, every time he had to respond to this home. Both statements technically conveyed the same message, but one was inappropriate and unprofessional. We have all said things that we meant to say, but phrased them inappropriately. We have all gotten out of character out of frustration.
I dealt with a black mother who was angry that her teenager was being arrested for aggravated robbery. She didn’t understand the law, as usual, and was verbally combative with my team. The white officers were professional and didn’t say anything unprofessional to the mother. We spent more time than we would have liked standing outside her door speaking with the mother. No matter what we said, she didn’t want to let us inside her home, although we had the right to be there, as we explained to her, no less than 10 times. It is dangerous for officers to delay action in this manner. Her son could have been fleeing out of a back window or getting a gun to harm us. We had every right to push her out of the way and storm into her home, but we tried to give her the benefit of the doubt because she was hurting because of her son’s actions, genuine fear of police, irrational fear of police, or some other reason that she refused to let us in. Officers don’t have time to continue to repeat themselves for safety reasons, even though the person’s fear might be genuine. When she realized that she was losing the battle, she began to play the race card, as we pushed by her to enter the home (How angry would you be if you saw a group of officers pushing your uncooperative mother out of the way so that they could do their job?). “Ya’ll not gonna kill my baby today.” My white coworkers took a deep sigh and continued to let me speak with this woman. She said that she didn’t want us to kill her son in the back room and claim that he did something to us.
This woman was irrational and used faulty arguments. Since she was in this state, I tried to use her logic to communicate with her. I said, “So you believe the police kill people?” She said, “hell yea ya’ll kill black people.” I said, “Since we are killers, doesn’t it make sense for you to tell your son to come outside into the living room, so that he can be arrested in front of you, so you can ensure that your son isn’t murdered, since the police are killers?” For the first time in this exchange, her facial expression changed. It made sense to her when I communicated to her using her own faulty logic. Her son, hiding in the back room, also heard my statement. The mother turned her attention to the back of her house and demanded that her son exit so that she could “see us murder him so she could tell the truth about what happened.” The boy immediately walked into the living room with his hands in the air. He was arrested peacefully. Why don’t officers just talk to people until they comply? Because it is dangerous. Criminals buy themselves time by distracting officers with circular arguments. Officers have been shot and killed because they didn’t immediately push someone out of the way and use enough force to handle uncooperative people. I chose to do so on this day. There are other days where I won’t. Either way, it isn’t my fault if someone gets hurt for not following basic instructions. This mother kept asking me if the white officers would be transporting her son to jail because she didn’t trust them. I told her that he would be riding with me. She said that was a little better. As disrespectful as this woman was acting, I gave her my number and told her that I would call her when I made it to jail with her son. She responded with “yea because you can kill him too.” I did what I said I would do and tried to reassure this woman who really didn’t deserve my extra kindness. 2 hours later, she had a friend pretend to be an attorney and they called me on 3 way telling me that we didn’t have the right to enter her home and that they were pressing charges. I instantly regretted trying to show compassion to this woman. This woman is why officers don’t want to go above and beyond for people. This behavior occurs too often and it is draining.
I had another incident where my team and I arrived to the home of a black family to arrest their son. We announced our presence outside the door. As she opened the door, she immediately began to scream that “ya’ll not gonna kill my baby today!” She was crying hysterically and she was shaking. One of my white co-workers walked away from the house after she did that. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with those unwarranted accusations that day. Never mind that her son was the only killer at the house. This woman was legitimately scared of us and we hadn’t done anything, but inform her that her son had a warrant. Sometimes when we encounter black people with these feelings, I usually step up and try to talk to the person. My co-workers just slide out of the way because they know that some people we encounter don’t want to hear anything from white officers. Some of these citizens are racist, but many of them have genuine fear and mistrust of white officers or all officers. I asked her to step outside her house and I spoke with her away from the crowd of people. I told her that her son had a murder warrant and that we had the right to search for him in her home, without her consent. She began to shake and I literally had to hold her arms and help her catch her breath. She said, “I’m not losing my fucking son today from them racist white boys over there. Ya’ll always killing us.” As I go down this road often at work, I began to use her faulty logic to reason with her. I said, “So we kill black people, right?” She said, “that’s all I see on tv, ya’ll are all killers.” I said okay. Then I asked her how she would feel if she heard a white person say that all black people are killers because that’s all they see on tv? She got upset and said that she would be pissed because you can’t judge all black people as a result of the actions of some. I asked her how she was justified in assuming that all officers are killers because of the actions of some? She understood my point, but still responded that officers look like bad people. I then asked her how she would feel if a white person said that he understood that all blacks aren’t bad, but they just look like killers? She said she got my point. What I really wanted to say was that the only killer here is your son, but I kept that inappropriate sarcasm in my head. As officers, we deal with situations that don’t make sense through sarcasm. Many people share videos of people doing inappropriate things or saying inappropriate things. Many people post these things saying that “I would go off if that happened to me,” “I would have lost it if that happened to me,” “I would have had to repent because I would have cursed that person out if they talked to me that way,” or “I would have been fired if that situation happened to me because I would have handled that lady” and a variety of other venting/ combative responses to stupidity. We all encounter stupidity and if stupidity meets us at the wrong time, any of us could say something inappropriate out of anger.
In my two examples, I communicated with those two women by using their faulty logic. In using their logic, I referenced myself and my co-workers in a manner in which they viewed us, as killers. Some may think that what I said to these two ladies was inappropriate and some may not. By referencing myself and my white co-workers as killers, I was able to de-escalate both situations and gain compliance, without putting my hands on these women. If those faulty logic examples didn’t work, we would have forcefully put our hands on both women. Speaking the language of agitated, upset or scared people, I gained compliance. Some people may believe that what I said was okay because I am black, some may not. The fact still remains that I used the same de-escalation tactic as the officer in the viral video. The difference is that he didn’t choose the best wording of his example and he is a 50 year old white officer. To be honest, I don’t think he would have tried to use that logic if he was dealing with a black woman. I think he attempted to use that argument because he was talking to another white person. I don’t know this for sure, but that is my guess. There was nothing about his statement, in the context that it was presented, that makes me think that this man is racist. If he has a long list of complaints in his personnel folder or there are other stories of racist conduct, then maybe I could stretch and see this as a racist incident, but I honestly don’t.
Again, I am not saying that this white woman didn’t genuinely fear for her life because I don’t know her true intent. As an officer, I thought the same thing that the officer thought initially. He assumed she was scared because she was drunk. That is common. When he was wrong and she explained her reasoning for not picking up a phone in her lap and calling her friend, after being instructed to do so was because she’s seen “all the videos of cops killing people,” it was comical to him. Not because he thinks that cops should kill as many black people as they can, but because how dare this white woman, who lives life experiencing white privilege, use the argument used predominantly by minorities to justify her fear of police. Again, I don’t know the officer’s heart either, but this is what I believed he was thinking. It was absurd for her to use this argument while belonging to one of the most protected groups in America. Since she made that comment, he tried to use her logic to defeat her argument. It was very obvious to me that his statements were sarcastic, because I have to defeat faulty logic every day from people who have genuine fear and from those pretending to be scared in an effort to avoid arrest. As a white man, he has to phrase that argument perfectly in order for it to not be perceived the wrong way. He didn’t do that. Most white officers wouldn’t even attempt this particular exercise of de-escalation faulty logic reasoning because it isn’t worth it in such a tense racial time period. This officer is older, close to retirement and didn’t phrase it well. In his mind, how dare this little white lady use this argument as if there are “all these videos” of white women being killed by police. After she made the comment, his first response was, “but you aren’t black.” It was clear to me that he was confused as to why she felt that argument, that black people say to him every day, applied to her. Although he gets tired of hearing black people say that to him, at least there’s some legitimacy with them saying it, as opposed to this white woman, who doesn’t know anything about racial injustice.
The irony in this for me is that it sounded like she was about to experience white woman privilege during this police encounter. It appeared as if he initially allowed her to call her friend to come pick her up, even though he stopped her on suspicion of being drunk, but she kept talking and he decided to arrest her. One of my white friends genuinely doesn’t understand white privilege and we are always having healthy conversations about it. Not understanding white privilege doesn’t make a white person racist because it makes sense for someone to not understand something that doesn’t affect them negatively. My white friend didn’t understand why some blacks fear the police because she doesn’t know the history, like most white people. One night, my white friend had too much to drink and she drove her vehicle. She got into an accident with 2 Mexican people. She hit their vehicle from behind and it was her fault. She had a strong odor of alcohol emitting from her pores. As she was telling me this story, she had no fear that she would go to jail that night. She was just casually telling me a story about how she dodged a bullet. She was so comfortable that she was not going to jail, that when the officer asked her if she wanted to sit in the back of his vehicle and wait for a wrecker, so that she would not be cold, she sat her happy a#$ in the back of his vehicle, knowing she was drunk. If you have ever been arrested for DWI, you know that sitting in an enclosed space makes the smell of alcohol stronger. No one in their right mind would sit in the back of a police vehicle, with an officer, while waiting for a wrecker. I would not have cared if there was a snow storm, hail storm, global warming or any other disaster going on outside, I would have stood outside and as far away from that police vehicle as I could. She sat in the back of the police car, smelling like alcohol and chatted with the officer while waiting for a wrecker. Meanwhile, the Mexican couple, who was hit from behind by a drunk white woman, didn’t have any insurance. He wrote them tickets for not maintaining insurance and towed their vehicle. They had to make other arrangements to get home. She told me this story just to share how she dodged a bullet and all I heard was white privilege. I told her that she just experienced white privilege and she didn’t understand. After breaking it down to her, she understood it. Wow for that officer to hang out with the drunk white woman in his car, but enforce action against the Mexicans.
Just like the white officers I work with, I feel secure in assuming that this officer has to do his job while being called racist and among accusations that his intent is to kill black people daily. As many times as he has probably heard that argument from black people, how dare this white woman try to use that argument, after she was about to be released from her drunk driving as a result of her white privilege and her mouth is the reason why he decided to go ahead and arrest her. He knew he was being recorded and tried to use her own faulty logic to show her how silly her comment was that she made to him. He should have sat this faulty logic session out, but he didn’t. It was clear to me that his point was that the argument of cops killing people generally makes more sense from black people, why are you, as a white woman, scared of the police?” He did not say, “Little lady, you have nothing to fear. I only hunt niggers and I would never kill a precious white woman. I’ll drive you home and we will stop and get a pumpkin spice latte on the way to your home.”
I understand the frustration felt by some regarding this incident, but it is my opinion that this was inappropriate, but far from a racist statement.
Chelsea Whitaker is a Dallas Area Police Officer and member of the 2005 Baylor Bear Basketball Team that won the National Championship. Her desire is to give others #perspective in order to #bridgethegap. She is a frequent contributor to Law Officer.