Affidavit: Macomb Black Man Recounts Frightening Case of Mistaken Identity by Police

Democratic Women of McDonough County: Racial Justice Coalition

Notes on Interview Conversations with Macomb Resident Interviewee

Interview: January 29, 2020. Macomb Public Library. 1:30 pm. Present: Interviewee; DWMC RJC Interviewers: Candace Whitman and Merrill Cole

This is an account of an incident involving the Macomb Police, the Sheriff’s Department, and possibly also the Office of Public Safety at this community member’s family’s home in Summer, 2019, which was read aloud at the Racial Justice Coalition’s Town Hall on Race Relations at City Hall on 1/30/2020.

Interviewee shared that in summer, 2019, he was at the home of the mother of his child at her address [x], Macomb. He reported that he was upstairs laying on the bed when he and [X] heard banging on the door. He indicated that at first they assumed it was someone for her teen son. Once he heard the banging at the door again, he looked out the window and saw that there were three police cars outside. He went downstairs, opened the door, and saw two adolescents speaking with the police, whom he believed were friends of the son. 

Interviewee reported that an officer asked him for his name, and Interviewee replied with his name and asked what was going on. The officer then reached for Interviewee; and out of fear, Interviewee pulled away. At that time, the officer began physically attacking Interviewee. Interviewee reported he was afraid for his life, so he continued to back up into the apartment, while holding his hands up. The officer tackled him onto the couch forcefully. Interviewee continued to ask the officer to explain why he was there, and the officer would not tell him.

At that time, [X] started down the stairs asking what was happening. Another officer pointed a taser at her and told her not to continue down the stairs. Interviewee reported that [X] then was asking him to calm down in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. 

He tried to calm down. He was put into cuffs, and he asked the officer again why they put him in cuffs. The officer told him that they were chasing a black man who got out of his car and ran from them. He  then asked if he was being cuffed just because he’s a Black man and the man they were chasing happened to be Black, and the officer confirmed that to be true.

They then asked him about several people and he told them that he does not hang with those people. He said he has a good job and stays out of trouble. He reported that the officer responded to that by stating that if it were up to him, he wouldn’t have a job at all and he would be in jail. 

He noted that the Sheriff was present and did nothing to correct the situation. He reported that Chief Barker was also there. He stated that he asked Chief Barker if he could do something about him being cuffed, just because he’s a Black man, and Barker stated there was nothing he could do about that. 

After an additional 10 or so minutes passed, they took the cuffs off of Him. He reported that later that evening and into the next morning, he was experiencing pain in his chest and shortness of breath from having been tackled and having the officer forcefully shove his elbow into his chest. 

He reported that he went to the Emergency Room at McDonough District Hospital on the day following the event. 

***********End of Report: Beginning of RJC Notes*******

RJC Additional Info, submitted by DWMC President Heather McMeekan: It should be noted that until sometime around early January, 2020, there was no complaint form up on the Macomb Police Department’s website. When it was brought to our attention, we first asked the city to fix the form last summer.

We sent multiple people to make repeated individual requests as citizens of the community for the complaint form to be fixed. Over six months later, they put the form back on the website. They put up a link to a form that is a PDF, which must be downloaded, printed, filled out, taken to a notary, and only then will police accept the complaint. Our org’s members have determined through interviews and a straw poll that the format is highly likely to limit complaints and cause marginalized persons, those without printers, especially, to have difficulties submitting the form.

When we discovered that they put up such a strict, rigid format requiring a lot of privilege to fill out, we asked Mayor Inman to consider adopting the best practices approach instead. We gave him the research showing why our police department’s policy and procedure is considered to negatively affect the public’s trust in police. Mayor Inman was verbally dismissive of our request and the research provided, but did agree to take it with him to consider. Two months later, we’ve heard nothing…and more complaints are still coming.

Our position is that our city’s leaders are unlikely to hear complaints until the city adopts the Best Practices standards. In a college town accused of racism in a national journal, it’s baffling why they continue to refuse to do.

Due to the many issues in this complaint which should be properly investigated by professionals, we are assisting this man by electronically filing this complaint through the Illinois Attorney General’s Office for his safety and to hopefully limit possible further negative consequences to him and his family, and are putting them in touch with local services to help them deal with the trauma they’ve endured.