Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Toledo Police Officers Falsely Accused of Racial Profiling

Back in April Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes was stopped for a traffic violation by Officer Derek Cranford and Officer David Sprott of the Toledo Police.  If you believe Larry Sykes there was no reason for the stop, and in fact since Councilman Larry Sykes knew he wasn't doing anything wrong, he took his time pulling over.

The officer tapped on the driver's side window, startling Larry Sykes, who rolled down the window and cooperated fully with the officers.  The police officer asked the councilman where he was coming from, where he was going and if he had any weapons, liquor or drugs in the car.  The officer told Mr. Sykes that the reason for the stop was that the rear license plate was difficult to read, which prompted councilman Sykes to reply that it was probably dirty. The officer forced councilman Sykes to wait while the officer checked Mr. Sykes's license for any outstanding warrants, which took about 20 minutes.  Finding no warrants, Mr. Sykes license was returned to him and he was allowed to go on his way.

No citations were issued.

Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes believed he was the victim of racial profiling, so he wrote a letter to the chief of police alleging police misconduct and abuse of authority.  The department of internal affairs started (and completed) a high priority, extremely thorough investigation into the matter.  Smelling offal in the water, the Toledo Blade started their own investigation.

That's when Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes's story started falling apart like a cardboard box in a monsoon rainstorm.

Here are a few links to the story which you may read as you see fit.  Commercial media begins by siding with Sykes, because everyone knows that the Toledo Police are really a bunch of racist thugs with blue uniforms, badges and guns.  All sarcasm aside, the media should have been much more even-handed here.

From NorthWestOhio: City Councilman Says He Was Racially Profiled by Hubert Wiggins

TOLEDO -- Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes said there was no justification for him to be subject to a traffic stop last month in south Toledo.

From The Blade: Sykes Alleges Racial Profiling By Police By Ignazio Messina

Councilman was stopped and not charged; Mayor orders inquiry
A police traffic stop of Toledo Councilman Larry Sykes without any apparent probable cause has sparked an internal investigation, The Blade has learned.
Mr. Sykes, a former Toledo Board of Education member who was elected in November to city council, was pulled over at 9:25 p.m. April 24 after leaving the studios of WGTE-TV for a program on senior citizens and hunger.
Mr. Sykes, who is African-American, said the officer, who was white, likely racially profiled him. Mr. Sykes said he has been racially profiled many times in the past by law enforcement officers, and that the license plate of the sport utility vehicle he was driving that night reads “4DRWBLK,” which stands for “4 driving while black.”
Mayor D. Michael Collins ordered an investigation after he learned of Mr. Sykes’ allegation in an April 30 letter to Police Chief Bill Moton.
Then the investigation begins and the questioning by commercial media starts.  It appears that Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes may have been less than completely truthful about what happened and when.

From NorthWestOhio: Toledo City Councilman's Claims Of Racial Profiling Deemed 'Unfounded' by Amulya Raghuveer
TOLEDO -- Racial profiling allegations made by a Toledo City Councilman against Toledo Police have been deemed "unfounded" after an internal affairs investigation.
From The Blade: INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATION: Police Say Sykes Profiling Claim Unfounded, Officer Did Give Reason For Stop By Taylor Dungjen and Ignazio Messina

An internal affairs report stated that the two officers — Derek Cranford, a three-year veteran, and David Sprott, a rookie officer who was on his fourth shift — saw that Mr. Sykes’ sport-utility vehicle lacked a front license plate, which prompted them to follow the vehicle.
When the officers could not read the rear license plate, they decided to stop the vehicle.
Courtesy of The Blade: TPD Internal Affairs Investigation (WARNING: 75 Page PDF File)

Sykes failed to display a license plate on the front of his vehicle, which is against Ohio law.  The rear plate has a cover on it which makes it difficult to read, another violation of Ohio law.  The windows of the vehicle are tinted so you can't see who is inside, which may or may not be a violation of Ohio law, but if I had to walk up to the driver of a vehicle with windows like these I wouldn't feel very good about it.

Reading through most of the internal affairs investigation (I have neither time nor patience for the whole thing), it's clear that there is no racial profiling here.  There's no evidence of any other kind of profiling either.  What becomes clear is that Toledo city councilman Larry Sykes lied, and his lies construed an attempt to ruin both the professional careers and a significant portion of the lives of two Toledo policemen.  What Larry Sykes ought to do is offer a public apology to TPD Officers Derek Cranford and David Sprott, followed by his resignation from the city council.  What might happen is that Larry Sykes might be recalled, which would be nice for everyone.  It would be even better if the recall succeeded, and better yet if the successful recall were accompanied by a public flogging in the village square followed by a few hours in the stocks.

My thanks and congratulations to the Toledo Blade for carrying the story.  All too often these false accusations are relegated to the back page, if they get printed at all.


CWMartin said...

Sykes profiled himself for having his car like that. But as long as you are a black man doing what only a black man would do, you should be allowed to do it. If it's against the law, hey, it's okay because I'm a black man doing black man things. And Lou Grant pisses all over himself because to run the story would be "Prejudiced" of him. And the band played on.

Old NFO said...

+1 on CW... Personally sounds like he was 'trolling' for trouble and a stop...