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On October 6th, 2014, 18 year old Deshawn Currie was pepper sprayed inside of his own house by Fuquay-Varina Police. He had just come home from school and was starting to relax when he heard shouting coming from his dining room. “Barefoot and dressed in a tank top and shorts,” he went downstairs, only be to confronted by police officers waiting for him with guns drawn.

A Black Guy! Quick, Call 911

The police were responding to a 911 call reporting a breaking and entering in progress. A neighbor, Wendell Howerton, had seen Deshawn enter the house, and assumed he was a burglar. Why would Mr. Howerton assume that? Because Deshawn was black.

It’s not uncommon to see black people in the United States. But, apparently, this neighborhood was different. This was a white neighborhood. How white? One of the neighbors, Bobbie Rhodes, told reporters that she had never even seen a black person in the neighborhood before. Maybe that’s why Wendell Howerton called the police when he saw the 5’8, 200 pound Deshawn:

[Mr. Wendell Howerton] stated that he had been sitting in his truck in his driveway when he observed a black male walk around [redacted] England Avenue. Mr Howerton stated that there have been a number of break-ins in the area and he did not recognize the subject who walked into the residence. Mr Howerton did state that the residents had only just recently moved in, and that he knew that a white family with small children lived there.

Going In Guns Drawn

When the police arrived, they drew their guns and made their way into the house. Officer Taylor recounted:

I, Officer Stancil, and Officer Lane then made entry into the home. Once inside the home, I identified us by yelling, “Fuqay Police!” As we were clearing the kitchen we began to hear foot steps up stairs. I then yelled again, “Fuquay Police!” I then stood at the entrance to the living room while Officer Land and Officer Stancil looked into the dining room. Once again I yelled, “Fuquay Police!”

Deshawn heard the commotion and came downstairs to check it out. According to Officer Taylor, this is what happened next:

  • I then heard the sound of someone running down the stairs and Officer Lane yelled, “Show me your hands!”
  • I then ran into the front foyer to find a black male matching the description given by the caller standing with his hands up.
  • I then placed my pistol back into its holster and walked over to pat down the male. As I approached the male began yelling.
  • While I was frisking the male (De ‘Shawn Currie) Officer Lane asked him what his name was and where he lived. Currie replied, “I live here!”

But I Live Here!

Deshawn explained to the police that this was his house. But, the cops didn’t believe him. As evidence, Officer Stancil pointed to pictures on the wall that showed a white family with white children, but no Deshawn.

One of the officers noted the faces of three small white children in the family photos on the mantel… “Where’s your picture if you say you live here?”

What the officer did not know at that time was that Deshawn wasn’t in any of the pictures because he was a foster child. This upset Deshawn:

“I’m feeling comfortable,” explained DeShawn. “I had moved into my room, and I’m feeling like I’m loved. And then when they come in and they just profile me and say that I’m not who I am. And that I do not stay here because there was white kids on the wall, that really made me mad.”

Unfortunately, getting upset was a mistake. As we have explained previously, you have to be very careful when dealing with the cops because every encounter with the police is potentially fatal. Anything but abject submission on your part is seen as a threat, and police are trained to dispose of threats by force. Luckily Deshawn wasn’t shot. But the Fuquay police did handcuff him and pepper spray him.

Fuquay Defends Its Police

To the people of Fuquay, this was not a violation of Deshawn’s rights. This was a job well done. The mayor, John Byrne, said “I think the police department probably responded like they should.” Bobbie Rhodes, one of Deshawn’s neighbors, took it one step further. She said:

“I would’ve done the same thing, if he had scared me,” Rhodes said. “I carry pepper spray.”

That point of view is supported by a version of events that looks like this:

  • Police got a report of a black guy robbing a house
  • They responded to the call
  • They found a black suspect inside
  • Suspect became belligerent
  • Police used force to gain compliance

Missing from that version, however, is the last, most crucial part:

  • And then the police found out that ALL OF THEIR INFORMATION WAS WRONG

Since the story started gaining attention, the police have tried to justify their actions by portraying Deshawn as violent and aggressive. But how would you react if cops broke into your home, pointed guns at you and started calling you a liar for no reason?

The fact that you can be assaulted by the police in your own home while minding your own business is beyond troubling. What’s even worse is that the police think they are fully justified in their actions.

One thing is certain. A robbery did take place at Deshawn’s house. But, it was Deshawn’s neighbors and the Fuquay police who were the perpetrators. And it was Deshawn’s dignity that was stolen.

One Response

  1. Jesse

    My idea is to get a state’s ombudsman to talk to the police about dropping charges. Let them know that the police were justified and sorry about any misunderstanding and would like to start with a clean slate. De Shawn then needs to go in his neighborhood / block with the ombudsman and introduce himself in the neighborhood. Preferably a white ombudsman. This would go along way for race relations. He needs to let the police know that this is what he intends to do also so they don’t get further police calls. He doesn’t look like a teenager and is large and rather intimidating. This would take away the scariness. He would set himself up to be the go to guy to get along with other blacks. Chances are he may meet someone who wants to be his friend. This is an opportunity for the community for race relations. BUT it is up to him. This is proactive.

    Reply

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