BLACK VOICES

911 Calls Released In John Henson's Alleged Racial Profiling Incident

"They just didn't sound like they were legitimate customers."

Audio of 911 calls released last week suggests that Milwaukee Bucks player John Henson may have been denied service at an area jewelry store earlier this month because of biased assumptions.

Henson visited Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers in the Milwaukee suburb of Whitefish Bay on Oct. 16 and Oct. 19 but store employees did not allow him inside. 

On Oct. 16, an unnamed Schwanke-Kasten employee called police to say the store had received "suspicious phone calls" that day and the day before, according to a press release by the Village of Whitefish Bay Police Department. 

"We just had a couple of suspicious phone calls lately at this store and we're just wondering if for the next hour, one of the Whitefish Bay cops could park in front of this store, until we close," the employee can be heard saying in dispatch audio released by NBC affiliate WTMJ. 

The employee went on to describe the conversation, saying the caller was inquiring about when the store would close. "They just didn't sound like they were legitimate customers," she said. 

Employees decided to close the store at 5 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m., its normal closing time, according to the press release. An officer arrived at the store and parked outside in an unmarked car. The officer observed four men -- one of whom officers later identified as Henson -- walk up to the store just before 5 p.m. The store's employees were inside, but the lights were off and the doors were locked. 

After running the plates on the vehicle Henson was driving, the officer informed the employee that the plates "were potentially stolen but that they were not listed as stolen" and to call the station if that vehicle returned. 

The following Monday, Oct. 19, Henson returned to the store with one other man and rang the doorbell, but the employees kept the doors locked. The dispatch audio captures an employee calling the station while Henson was outside.

"They're at our front door now and we're not letting them in," she said. "They're two -- one real tall -- one short -- males, Black -- African-American males."

She identified them as the same men who had come to the store the week before.

"I am hiding in the office. I don't want them to see me out there -- we're pretending like we're closed," she said. "So no one is on the floor, we're not opening the door -- we're just staying in the back. ... I don't feel comfortable letting them in." 

The dispatcher then asked the employee to go to the front door.

"Why?" the employee asked. "I don't feel like it, why do I have to come to the door? Can an officer come to the back? I'm not going to the front door."

When officers arrived to the jewelry store, they identified Henson and cleared confusion surrounding his vehicle's dealer plates -- the Chevrolet Tahoe he was driving is part of an endorsement deal with a local car dealership. 

The employee asked an officer to stand by as Henson looked at Rolexes, but officers report that they refused.

Schwanke-Kasten's owner, Thomas Dixon, has since apologized to Henson in person and declared in a statement: "We all agree that racial profiling is never acceptable and deeply regret how the circumstances unfolded Friday and today." 

A suspect took four Rolex watches from the Whitefish Bay Schwanke-Kasten location in September 2013, according to the release. 

Listen to the full audio below:

CONVERSATIONS