Karle Robinson, a 61-year old African-American man from Kansas, was recently handcuffed by a police officer when he was moving into his own home, suspecting him as a burglar in his own house. Believing that the officer’s actions were racially-charged, Robinson filed a complaint against the police department.
Robinson, a retired military veteran, was reportedly moving furniture into his new home for over 12 hours in Tonganoxie, Kansas when police pulled up in front of his house at 2:30am. At that time, he was trying to carry a large television.
“I could use a hand with this,” he even told the officer who approached him with a turned on flashlight pointing on him, the Kansas City Star reports.
Little did he know that he would then be spending the next eight minutes handcuffed because the officer was suspicious and thought he was a burglar. Robinson was basically treated like a real burglar suspect as the officer waited for backup to check his story.
Robinson initially tried to explain to the officer that he is a new homeowner who was moving in. He added that he has identification and paperwork to prove it if they could only go inside the house to get it. However, the officer demanded him to put his hands on the side of the house then at the top of his head before being handcuffed, as the video from the body camera shows.
“If I’d been a white man, you know that wouldn’t happen,” Robinson told the Star. “I’m being handcuffed right here on my own damn property.”
Meanwhile, Tonganoxie Police Chief Greg Lawson claimed the officer did nothing wrong because he had a reason to suspect for a crime and he was actually being courteous and respectful. He added that the use of the handcuffs is for the safety of both the officer and Robinson until he could confirm that Robinson is telling the truth while keeping the situation calm.
“If I were on that call, by myself, no matter the race of the person, they would have been handcuffed,” Lawson said.
The officer, indeed was being courteous, even when Robinson calmly asked him, “Is this all necessary?” The officer explained in a friendly tone that Robinson was out there “at three in the morning” and that there have been several reports of break-ins in the area lately.
“That’s a lie,” Robinson said, basing from what his neighbors said when he asked them if there have been any break-in they encountered and they said there weren’t.
Robinson believes that because he is Black, “you’re guilty until proven innocent.”
“They’re thinking I’m stealing,” he added. “I’ve been hearing this for 40 years — getting pulled over, being searched. I’m not going to let this go.”
At that moment, as the body cam footage continued, two other officers arrived and talked to him in friendly tones while he was still handcuffed. Eventually, they saw evidence that he was really moving in and documentation to prove it. That’s only when they let Robinson out of handcuffs and apologized.
Robinson didn’t argue with them at that time. However, a few days after the encounter, Robinson filed a complaint against the department and met with the chief who explained to him what happened. Still, Robinson didn’t buy it. He believes that if he had been white, he would’ve gotten the identification inside his house without getting handcuffed.
“Anyone who thinks we’re in a post-racial world should refer to that,” he said, referring to the body cam footage showing his encounter with police.
The only good thing that probably happened is that the officers helped him carry his TV inside his house in the end.