CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago Heights man claims he running an errand when he was held at gunpoint by a man who initially identified himself as a police officer.
Police are calling the incident a misunderstanding, but the man is calling it racial profiling.
20-year-old Jermayne Smith of Chicago Heights says he went to Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood to return keys to a former employer one week ago. He was near 31st Street and Canal, steps from his car with his girlfriend inside, when a man ran out of a building, and pointed a silver gun at him, accusing him of trying to break into his car.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the family of the man want the man identified so that they can press charges.
“All I pretty much think about is how my life could have been over,” said Smith. “He identified himself as a police officer and said ‘Get on the ground. What are you doing in the neighborhood?’ I said, ‘I’m here to drop off my keys,’ and he said ‘I don’t care. I see you by my car. Get on the ground before I shoot you.’ ”
Smith says confusion took over, followed by complete terror.
“I don’t even know how he saw me. I was just walking down the street, literally just walking toward my car,” Smith explained. “He just ran out of an office with a gun. He told me he would shoot me. He told me he would kill me.”
Smith says the armed man called police and at least ten 9th district squad cars showed up. He says they kept him on the ground, handcuffed him, and took the man with the gun around the corner. A while later, police called the incident a misunderstanding and let him go.
“They just said ‘Get out of here. You’re not hurt. He’s not hurt. Just go home,’” Smith recalled, claiming they never apologized, never asked Smith if he wanted to press charges, and never identified the man who threatened his life.
“For the police to minimize the situation and say ‘you’re free to go, there was no harm to you, no harm to him, he was just paranoid.’ I can probably, statistically, pull up how many young African American men are dead because a white man was paranoid,” said Yvonne Broomfield, Smith’s aunt.
On Monday, Smith and his family filed a victim information notice at the 9th District in an attempt to get answers. He says he also filed a complaint with Civilian Office Of Police Accountability (COPA) to investigate the officers involved.
“I don’t think they did their job. I’m a young black man and they felt that I didn’t know my rights,” Smith said.
It is still not clear whether or not the man who allegedly threatened Smith’s life was an off-duty police officer. A police spokesperson confirmed that the report was filed, but says the family needs to follow up with detectives and with COPA.