In a now-viral video, a law enforcement officer tried to arrest Houston resident Clarence Evans in his own front yard after mistaking him for a different black man who allegedly had a warrant out for his arrest.
Evans uploaded the video of the incident to social media on May 8, saying the officer had pulled up to his house as he was watching his kids play.
The video ― which now has more than 1 million views on Facebook and 4.5 million views on Twitter ― shows a deputy, who is white, holding Evans’ arm behind his back and repeatedly calling him by a different name, saying there is a warrant out for his arrest in Louisiana.
“For what?” Evans can be heard asking. “You don’t know my name, so how can you tell me I have a warrant in Louisiana?”
At one point, the officer calls him “Quentin.”
“My name is not Quentin!” Evans insists. As the officer asks Evans to show him identification, Evans refuses.
“No, I’m not gonna be the next [black person] you kill, no!” Evans says, later adding: “I’m not gonna let you put me in handcuffs … You’re in my yard, on my property.”
“Sir, I don’t want you touching me while you’re shaking, you need to step back and calm down,” Evans adds.
Another officer later pulls up in a car and gets the first officer’s phone out of his vehicle, and they show Evans a picture of the man they’re allegedly looking for.
“Doesn’t that look a lot like you?” the first officer says.
“No, that don’t look like me!” Evans responds. In his video caption, Evans explains that the officer had shown him a photo of a black man with dreadlocks who appeared to be in his 50s.
“What are you trying to say, because I got dreads and I’m black, that’s me?”
Eventually, the officer says he’ll be filing a report and both officers leave.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told HuffPost the deputy had been responding to a call about a wanted fugitive out of Louisiana.
“Our deputy responded, he saw a gentleman that fit the description, a black man with dreadlocks, so he approached,” Herman said, later noting: “This was a call for police service.”
“They’re trying to make it appear it’s a profiling case, that we’re profiling black people and all that, which is totally ludicrous and not true,” Herman added. He said the officers left after “the guy turned out to just be a gentleman in his front yard.”
Herman said there is an ongoing criminal investigation into the incident — later clarifying that it’s not the officer who is being investigated.
The constable said Evans had “failed to cooperate” and “failed to identify himself to a police officer,” but that he didn’t think there would ultimately be charges against him.
Herman added that the investigation was not looking into the officer because the department had received no formal complaint about his actions.
“Our guys backed away, they could have arrested him,” Herman said, referring to Evans. “I’m happy the way it turned out ― they didn’t get in an altercation with this guy, with his attitude.”
“Now I see how unarmed innocent black men get shot down by cops.”
Police interactions with black people in the U.S. are disproportionately likely to end in excessive force or death. One 2016 study found that black people were 2.8 times more likely than their white peers to be killed in encounters with police.
Among the high-profile police shootings of unarmed black people in recent years is the case of Tamir Rice, who was 12 years old in 2014 when he was playing with a toy gun in Cleveland. After a man called the police, cops shot Tamir dead within seconds of arriving at the scene. And in Sacramento, California, last year, police shot 22-year-old Stephon Clark dead in his own backyard after they responded to calls of someone breaking car windows. Officers said they thought Clark was holding a gun. It was a cellphone.
“I’m so pissed right now,” Evans wrote in the Facebook post sharing the video. “I’ve always been the one to say all cops aren’t bad but this racist mf just proved me wrong.”
“Now I see how unarmed innocent black men get shot down by cops,” he added. “It’s no way I was letting him get my hands behind my back because he was [too] nervous and shaking so I knew he was scared next thing you know he goes for his weapon and shoots me in my back and say he feared for his life.”