FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2018
Bridget Fagan-Reidburn, Community Organizer
NEWLY RELEASED DASH AND BODY CAM FOOTAGE SHOWS RACIAL PROFILING BY TWO
DES MOINES POLICE OFFICERS IN A JULY 15 STOP
Offending officer has a record of targeting the Black community, incident and data expose larger racial profiling problem within the Des Moines Police Department
Des Moines, IA– Newly released dash and body camera footage (more links below) shows racial profiling by two Des Moines police officers in a July 15 traffic stop. Two young African-American men were pulled over, handcuffed and accused of gun and drug possession. Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), a statewide, grassroots community organizing group, say this video and newly released data (links below) show a serious problem within the Des Moines Police Department that needs to be addressed.
“Racial profiling by police happens in Des Moines. This time it happened to my 21 year old son,” said Laural Clinton, mother of passenger, Jared Clinton, and an Iowa CCI member from Des Moines.
“When I watched the video I cried. It’s so easy to see how an unwarranted traffic stop like this could’ve easily turned my son into another Philando Castile, or given him a police record.
It’s clear that Officer Thies was determined to find a reason to arrest these young men who were just enjoying their Sunday evening like anyone else. No one should have to go through this. This will affect my son and Montray for years to come.
My question for Chief Wingert is how do you expect my kids to trust the police after this? Is this the type of policing tactics you teach? Who does this protect in our community? We can’t let this happen again. It’s time Chief Wingert steps up and does the right thing.”
The video shows officers Kyle Thies and Natalie Heinemann pulling over a car being driven by Montray Little, 23 from Des Moines, accompanied by passenger Jared Clinton, 21 of Des Moines. Thies immediately implied the car was stolen and accused Little and Clinton of having weapons and “being able to see [marijuana] shake” in the car. Montray Little calmly denied the accusations. Officer Thies proceeded to handcuff Montray and put him in the back of the cop car while he performed a warrantless search of the car. When Thies found nothing, the video shows Thies trying to coerce Montray into admitting he had smoked marijuana or was around someone smoking marijuana anyway, which Montray denied again. Officer Heinemann’s video shows her interacting with the passenger, Jared Clinton, seemingly to distract Jared from the search and what was happening with Montray.
“We can’t let this style of policing continue,” said Bridget Fagan-Reidburn an organizer with Iowa CCI.
“Racial profiling can have lasting and devastating impacts on individuals and our communities – from mental trauma, to being incarcerated and thrown into our judicial system, to economic impacts such as court and legal fees and loss of employment. We need a policing system that builds relationships with our communities, not tears them apart.”
2017 data from the DOT, State of Iowa Data Warehouse (TRAxS records) and the booking records from the Polk County Sheriff only reinforces the impacts of racial profiling. Attached data shows jarring disparities of traffic stops and arrests in Des Moines.
The 2017 data also shows how Thies has a history of targeting young, Black males. For example: in 2017, Thies charged 26 Black people and 5 White people with “interference with official acts”. Additionally, 49% of the people Officer Thies booked in 2017 were Black.
Iowa CCI has collected dozens of stories of racial profiling by police over the last three years and has assisted individuals to file official complaints with the DMPD’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS). In the last 12 months, Iowa CCI has helped two other young Black males file complaints of racial profiling and aggressive treatment by Officer Kyle Thies. Both complaints were deemed “unfounded” by the OPS.
This incident comes as Iowa CCI is hosting a series of “Skin Color is Not Reasonable Suspicion” community meetings with the Black community and two Des Moines City Council members, Josh Mandelbaum and Connie Boesen (Councilwoman Linda Westergaard has committed to attend the final meeting). There have been over 100 Des Moines residents in attendance at each of the first two meetings held June 28 and July 25. The purpose of the meeting series is to bridge the gap between city officials and the Black community and to work together to find solutions to our racial profiling problem in Des Moines. The final meeting with the Council and the Black community is on Thursday, September 6. We will propose three ordinances at our final meeting that would combat racial profiling.
We encourage anyone who has a racial profiling story to call Iowa CCI at 515-255-0800 and to RSVP to the final meeting with the three Des Moines City Council members on Thursday, September 6 at the Polk County Central Senior Center at 6:30 p.m.
For interview inquiries, contact Bridget Fagan-Reidburn.
To view the videos:
Add your name to hundred calling on DMPD and the City Council to end racial profiling – click here.