DENVER (AP) – A black man handcuffed by white police officers after pointing a gun at a car with young children in it said he met with the Denver police chief this week after the case came to light after the protests by George Floyd.
Naphtali Israel told The Associated Press on Tuesday that what happened to him and his family in a supermarket parking lot on May 7 is another example of the injustice that has led to civil unrest since Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, more than three weeks ago.
“They are constantly trying to demonize victims of bad officers to justify their position and the world sees this and they speak,” said Israel. “They are tired of it. I am tired of it. The community is tired of it.”
Denver police said they had acted properly in response to a complaint from a black man with a gun.
“The fact that there was reportedly a weapon and it was unknown what the weapon was used for is, in my view, reasonable for the officers to be able to respond tactically to that threat,” said division chief Ron Thomas.
Israel said he had no weapon, and his lawyer noted that it is not illegal to be black and own a weapon.
Israel and lawyer David Lane plan to meet Thursday at the request of Chief Police Chief Paul M. Pazen.
“I am optimistic, yet I do not understand or understand what the police chief is trying to achieve,” said Israel, “but I am absolutely open to meeting him and hearing what he has to say.”
On May 7, police responded to a phone call about a black man in a white hoodie sitting alone in a Cadillac with a gun in a supermarket parking lot. Security footage of Lane shows a sergeant driving to the car and aiming his gun at three children in the car for about 15 seconds.
While the video footage didn’t include any sound, Lane said the sergeant had ordered the 14-year-old to “take her (vigorous) hands off the wheel!”
Israel, 44, said he had just returned from the hospital with his newborn and fiancé. Wanting to give her and the baby some time on his own, he said he was running errands with her 14-, 7-, and 2-year-old children.
The youngest became restless, he said, so he decided to buy the snacks for the kids and take them back to the car while he finished shopping.
While Israel was checking out, he heard a woman screaming desperately about a father at a store manager. As Israel approached, the woman told him that a police officer was pointing a gun at the children in the car.
Outside, Israel was confronted by three police officers who began questioning him and telling him to step back while the children were crying, he said.
Body cameras show the white officers embracing Israel and beating him in search of a weapon. Once they discovered Israel was unarmed, they released him and explained the phone call they had received.
“When it all happened, I felt helpless,” said Israel. “And now I feel sad about the whole situation with my kids, because I hear them say the things they say now, that they never said before about police officers, about weapons, about their skin color.”
The sergeant later came home to Israel with the messages he left behind, Israel said. The officer gave what he described as a pep talk “about why I should be strong in this situation and these things are happening and unfortunately he has no explanation for me.”
“I noticed that while trying to justify his position because he never apologized,” he added.
Thomas praised the sergeant’s actions and intentions for family succession. “We support the fact that he wanted to help a member of our community,” he said.
Israel said he made a complaint online after going to the police station and being ignored. Thomas said he did not know how Israel’s complaint was made, but confirmed it is being investigated.
“While the possession of a weapon is not by itself not against the law, I think there is reason to investigate that,” he said.
Israel said the 14- and 7-year-olds are undergoing therapy for the trauma. He said he also started teaching them to deal with the police and not to get too emotional.
“I have to keep drilling this stuff into their heads, because that cop got out of his car, within a second he had his gun pointed at them,” said Israel. “You know, and in my mind I think, imagine if I were all boys, would my boys be dead? ‘
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