News & Politics

Cop Admits He Ordered Mentally Ill Black Man To Sing, Make Animal Noises

A journalist says he has more than a dozen videos shot by officers, but has not shared most of them because of their “humiliating nature.”

A suburban Detroit police officer admitted he asked a mentally ill black man to sing and dance and video recorded the incident.

Videos and and photos with degrading portrayals of black men were submitted earlier this month to the blog, Motor City Muckraker,purportedly from officers who disseminated them to friends and colleagues in the upper class, majority-white Michigan suburb of Grosse Pointe Park. One video portrayed a voice alleged to be an officer asking black men to do humiliating tasks, including “dance like a chimp.” In another incident, an officer allegedly texted a photo of a black man in the back of his trailer with the text, “Gotta love the coloreds.” The journalist, Steve Neavling, told the Huffington Post that he has more than a dozen videos shot by officers, but has not shared most of them because of their “humiliating nature.”

The unnamed officer has been taken off duty and is expected to face discipline, according to Neavling. But it is not clear whether that officer was the only one responsible for the photos and videos.

The incident is one of the most overt manifestations of recent minority mistreatment by law enforcement, particularly young black men. This week, an exposé in Florida revealed an aggressive police program in minority-dominated Miami Gardens is stopping the same individuals hundreds of times on disingenuous allegations of trespassing and other minor offenses. And on Friday, a federal appeals court declined to reverse a federal judge’s ruling that the New York Police Department engaged in unconstitutional racial profiling in its stop-and-frisk program.

Nicole Flatow is the Deputy Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. Previously, she was Associate Director of Communications for the American Constitution Society. Nicole has also worked for several legal and general circulation newspapers, including The Daily Record and The New York Law Journal, and was a legal fellow at Bread for the City, where she represented low-income D.C. residents in housing and public benefits matters. She received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and her B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Law from Binghamton University, where she was editor in chief of her campus newspaper