Father, daughters live Black Friday nightmare police stop

| January 23, 2014

COMMENTARY

By Chasiti I. Falls

Special to Frost Illustrated

The term “black” has a history of being used to describe disastrous days in the financial market, such as Black Tuesday (Oct. 29, 1929) and Black Monday (Oct. 19, 1987)

Now for one Fort Wayne father and his two daughters’ Black Friday of 2013 will be the disastrous day when they said they were subjected to racial profiling and violation of their Fourth Amendment Rights.

Fort Wayne native and North Side graduate Jerrion Turner and his two oldest daughters were attempting to finally partake in the

Jerrion Turner (Courtesy photo)

Jerrion Turner (Courtesy photo)

holiday festivities and savings that were being offered at Wal-Mart, after the birth of his youngest daughter two days prior.  All was going well until they witnessed an altercation take place then later were accused of involvement with the same incident.

People who know him describe Mr. Turner as a God-fearing man and a respectable member of Union Baptist Church and Fort Wayne’s society. He and his two daughters—the oldest 13 and one 11 years old—shared their traumatic event with me.

“My children were loading up my car with purchases that I made at Wal-Mart on Coldwater Road. As we were getting in the car, we heard some commotion at Wal-Mart’s entrance, and saw a fight between two females. I asked the female that was exiting the store if everything was okay.”

Here is a version of the account through the eyes of an 11-year-old:

“My dad asked was everything okay. She said, ‘Yeah, this girl just put her hands on me and I hit her with my gun!!’ And, she showed my dad the gun I was so scared.”

What followed caused Mr. Turner’s paternal instincts to kick in.

“On cue, a guy comes out of the store, telling the female, ‘We need to leave. Let’s go!’  At that moment, it was just urgent to get me and my children away. So I was headed home, going through downtown [Fort Wayne] on Clinton/Lafayette/ US 27, and the police pulled me over by the MLK Bridge. I instantly pulled over, and waited for the officer to approach my vehicle, but they never did.”

His 13-year-old picks up the harrowing story at that point:

“We got pulled over by the police and they were yelling at my dad telling him to get out. And me and my little sister was crying because we don’t know what we did. And, the police officer put handcuffs on me and my dad and I kept telling them we didn’t do anything. And, then I set in the back of (a different police) car.”

Mr. Turner and his 13-year-old daughter sat restrained by handcuffs in the back of separate police cars while the 11-year-old was instructed to remain standing on the curb alone as male officers questioned her.

Mr. Turner would later learn there was an armed robbery reported at the Wal-Mart.

I visited the scene of the initial crime that same day to encounter a Wal-Mart employee whom had learned when she came in that morning that a lady was suspected of stealing and a cashier confronted her and thus she pulled out a gun.  Apparently, African American Mr. Turner in a white Cadillac with his two distraught and hysterically crying African American daughters matched the description of the robbery suspects said to be one black male, two black females along with two small children in a dark colored Lincoln possibly green on Black Friday 2013.

One closely reviewing the police reports available in regards to all the essential events that occurred on Black Friday 2013 in regards to an alleged Coldwater Rod Wal-Mart robbery, I discovered some interesting details.

The first officer stated that he monitored an armed robbery being dispatched at the Coldwater Rd. Wal-Mart.  At that time the first officer was positioned Coldwater Road/Coliseum Boulevard so he pulled over to then be informed via radio that the suspects were two black females and one black male.  While monitoring traffic with reportedly only a racial and gender profile, Mr. Turner’s white Cadillac was seen headed southbound on Coldwater crossing Coliseum with the a black male driver and two black female passengers. The first officer then began to follow behind Mr. Turner, and asked dispatch for a vehicle description ASAP.

A second officer  stated that, while he was at Wal-Mart conducting the interview of the battered employee and reported that the employee described the suspects as being two black females one black male and two young children was provided over the air.  A third officer included that the first officer dispatched said he was behind a white Cadillac with three occupants, that he believed maybe the suspect car.  It was stated that first officer “challenged the individuals in the car.”

The first officer continued to explain that without a vehicle description he decided to initiate a Traffic Stop aka “Pulling Over” yet it then was relayed that one of the alleged armed robber suspects had a handgun.

In addition, it is stated that the ‘subjects’ [referring to Mr. Turner and his daughters] were taken into custody and then the suspect vehicle description of a dark colored Lincoln was received by the first officer. While the second officer was able to decipher from appearance alone that the front female passenger looked like a teen and the rear passenger possibly looked young 11 to 13 years old, he continued the stop.

Ironically, all the reports made no mention of Mr. Turner’s car being searched. As it was loosely explained to Mr. Turner when his complaint was addressed, all officers involved followed protocol.  Then how is it that that part of the protocol was undocumented from all the reports. The saying goes “if you don’t document it, it didn’t happen”. Mr. Turner assured me he gave no verbal permission to any officer present to neither search his vehicle or trunk nor speak with the two minors that were presently under his supervision.

The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”  Mr. Turner did not feel one bit secure in his person as he listened to the 13-year-old cry out “Daddy”, watching as male officers interrogated and put handcuffs on his children.

Could no one on the scene take a moment to assess the current situation’s presentation and not just follow through with a conditioned protocol before robbing a 13-year-old child of her blissful world and faith in the Indiana’s protective services?  The officers soiled the new clothing of Mr. Turner’s two-day-old daughter with the disrespect, while leaving a inerasable mental impression on an 11-year-old vulnerable mind as she await in panic on a cold curb alone after seeing gun, after gun.

Can the FWPD be trained that it is as important to avoid subjecting civilians to mental harm, as it is in protecting themselves from physical harm? This nightmare could have been avoided, and Mr. Turner and his daughters are three people who deserve a formal apology and compensation for the chain of Black Friday 2013 undesirable events. Being told, “We were just doing our jobs” is not good enough this time to let the sleeping dog of injustice continue to lie?

Mrs. Mary D. Turner the mother and grandmother to the offended parties stated, “It is a shame they were pulled over and all of this happened at the foot of the Fort Wayne MLK Bridge.  I grew up in the era when Martin Luther King fought for justice for all.”

“Do you feel you were treated fairly?” I asked.

Mr. Turner replied, “No way do I feel I was treated fairly…” He feels that he and his daughters were victims of Racial Profiling at its’ best and victims of an “unreasonable search”.  He expressed that it is his job to protect his daughters therefore he has to be there voice. With that being said I assist my relative with making an Internal Affairs compliant, for which he received a phone call and letter of FWPD complacency.

One has to raise awareness of this Global Problem, and do less twerking on this Dr. King’s Memorial Day and more remembering the good fight.

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Category: Local, Opinion

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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