TONGANOXIE, Kansas – The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas has written a letter asking the state attorney general to investigate after a black Marine veteran was detained by police while moving into his new house at night.
Read the letter here.
Bodycam footage obtained by the Kansas City Star shows the August 19, 2018 interaction in which police confronted Karle Robinson, 61, and placed him in handcuffs.
The video shows Officer Brady Adams approach Robinson about 2:30 a.m. as he is carrying a TV out of a moving van parked in front of his new home.
"You just bought this house and you're moving in at four in the morning?" Adams asks.
Robinson tries explaining that he owns the house and had bought it a month prior, but the officer demands that he puts his hands up on the side of the house so he can be searched for weapons. Robinson is then placed in handcuffs.
"Is this all necessary here?" Robinson asks Adams. The officer responds that it is because "we've been having a lot of break-ins in the area."
Several more officers arrive, and they find paperwork in the home proving that Robinson does own the house. Robinson is then released from the handcuffs.
Watch the video below:
The officer explained several times during the incident that it was necessary to detain Robinson because of a string of burglaries in the area. However, the ACLU contends that public records showed no reports of burglaries.
The ACLU also said the fact that Robinson was taking boxes into his home, not removing unboxed items from it, should have suggested that there was no burglary in progress.
"If I had been a white man, that wouldn't have happened like that," Robinson told The Star in October.
In October, police maintained that they had reason to suspect a crime was in progress. Tonganoxie Police Chief Greg Lawson reviewed the bodycam video and said that police acted appropriately.
The ACLU's letter said that following the alleged profiling incident, Robinson was subjected to “a campaign of surveillance and harassment” that only stopped when his story became publicized. Robinson said that police routinely followed him, parked in front of his home almost daily or repeatedly drove past his home.
Robinson said he tried to file a racial bias complaint with the Tonganoxie Police Department, but was stopped by Chief Lawson.
“Mr. Robinson believes his detention was motivated by his race rather than a reasonable suspicion that he was committing a burglary,” said Lauren Bonds, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas. “It also appears that the Chief of Police prevented Mr. Robinson from filing a credible, legitimate complaint and that is not in compliance with reporting and intake standards. He must not interfere with citizens registering complaints.”
Robinson told The Star that the people in his new community have been nice, and that he's only had problems with the cops.
"I want them to learn that racism is still alive and thriving in 2018," Robainson said. "And you still have the same scenarios that we've been talking about for 400 years. Nothing has changed."