A Halifax cop remains on paid duty after he was filmed yelling at a Black man “I will fill you full of fucking lead” while pointing a gun at him.
The unidentified Halifax Regional Police officer is on desk duty and is under investigation for the “unacceptable comments” according to Halifax police Chief Dan Kinsella. Local activists are calling for the cop to be fired.
Over the weekend, video circulated across Twitter and Facebook showing a police officer with his gun drawn and pointed, walking behind a Black man circling a blue pick-up truck in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the Clayton Park neighbourhood. The man has his hands raised high in the air, and takes slow, careful steps around the truck, while the officer follows.
While the sound is muffled, the officer tells the man he will fill him full of lead and to “stop fucking walking, ” to which the man replies, “You’re not allowed to fucking shoot me in my back for no reason.”
After briefly circling the truck, the man takes off, running behind the apartment complex, and the officer does not follow. The man, who is unidentified at this time, has yet to be charged with anything.
In an extended version of the video, which surfaced on Monday, the man is seen arguing in the parking lot with another man in a red SUV, though it’s unclear what they were talking about. The video shows the man shove and slap the SUV passenger in the chest and throat, while a third man looks on. Once the police officer arrives, he gets on his radio immediately, and orders the men to lay on the ground. Then, he pulls out his gun.
In a statement on Sunday, Kinsella said, “The circumstances surrounding this particular incident involved a high-risk situation involving drugs and weapons offences.” The statement goes on to note that police “recognize that any such incident can be deeply damaging to police community relations. We are committed to a full investigation and ask members of the public to allow for due process to take place.”
Police charged a second man after he was allegedly found with a loaded handgun and two pounds of crack cocaine at the scene. Halifax police did not answer questions or offer further comment beyond their original press releases.
While the video was shot from a neighbouring apartment building, VICE World News has not confirmed the original source. However, the video started gaining momentum after it was shared on social media by members of GameChangers902, a local activist group working on behalf of African Nova Scotians.
“Whenever I see a video of police and Black folks, I’m always waiting to hear a gunshot,” Kate MacDonald, co-founder of GameChangers902, told VICE World News. For MacDonald, the video, and the statement that followed was predictable. “You can’t work at a grocery store and talk to people like that. I can’t talk to other people like that, so at what point are we flat out saying that police officers are above the law and play by no rules?”
MacDonald, along with GameChangers902, called for immediate actions from Halifax Regional Police. They include firing the police officer, releasing information to the public in a transparent investigation, and getting the Serious Incident Response Team, which investigates police incidents, involved.
GameChangers902 also organized a call and email blitz for Tuesday, resulting in hundreds of calls and messages sent to the police complaint and public information lines. Though it’s hard to know how many people took part, MacDonald said the group had to make new phone numbers available because they filled up the original voicemails by mid-morning.
The incident is just the latest example of why there is deep mistrust in police by many people of colour. A 2019 report found that Black people in Halifax were six times more likely to be stopped by police than white people. (Black Canadians only make up 3.8 percent of Halifax’s population according to the 2016 census.) That same report found that once stopped, many Black people felt scared and frustrated at often being asked about drugs, weapons, or outstanding arrest warrants, regardless of what they were doing when they were stopped.
Kinsella apologized to the Black community in November 2019 for the “decades of injustice,” and promised to ban street checks. One year later, the criminologist who authored the original report, Scot Wortley, told CBC that while Halifax had made some progress, the police needed to do more than “lip service,” calling for more data collection and stronger anti-racism and de-escalation training.
When asked how this incident affects her trust in police, MacDonald laughed. Trust, she explained, requires transparency, which she said she’s happy to provide to police, but she’s unsure if she’d get the same back. Still, she’s open to the possibility. “They know who I am. They can call me if they want to talk.”
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