Corey Dickerson, a black Alabama man, was stopped by police for jogging after midnight over the weekend. Dickerson, who was eventually let go without an arrest, filmed his conversation with two Talladega Police Officers and posted it to his Facebook page on Monday. Since then, the video has raised eyebrows nation-wide as another example of police officers' unfair targeting of black Americans.
You can hear Dickerson breathing heavily when, a few seconds into the video, he asks the police officer who stopped him: "Have I done anything wrong, first of all?" The officer, who identified himself on camera as Officer Price (Al.com refers to him as Kenneth Price), says "no," but continues to press. He remains in the car while speaking to Dickerson at first, but eventually drives closer and comes out to speak with Dickerson directly. During Price's brief drive, Dickerson speaks directly into his phone: "Well, looks like I'm about to get an arrest."
Price asks Dickerson for his name and identification. Their conversation becomes tense, but remains polite—Dickerson tells Price he is being filmed, and Price often tells Dickerson he's free to report the proceedings on camera. After refusing to offer up his ID and last name, Dickerson asks the officer if he's being detained. Price answers yes, and the conversation continues.
Dickerson: What crime am I suspected of committing?
Price: I just need to find out who you are and what you're doing, do you understand that?
Dickerson: I do, but what crime am I suspected of committing, sir?
Price: You're not committing a crime, I just want to know what—
Dickerson: So, am I free to go?
Price: Not yet.
Dickerson: So you guys can detain me for anything whatsoever?
At that point, Price stops responding. Eventually, a second officer joins the pair on foot. A conversation between Dickerson and the second officer turns chillingly honest at around the nine-minute mark.
Dickerson: I really just don't want my rights violated, and I feel like my rights are being violated right now. 'Cause I'm pretty sure that you guys are going to try to search me or whatever, anyway, whether I give you permission or not…. I don't trust police just because I got my hair my pulled out, I was choked, tased, maced, beaten bloody. You hear me? Beaten bloody by four cops while I was in handcuffs.
Officer: I'm gonna tell you this. If we were to search you, we're gonna do a weapons search. We can search you for weapons if we choose to, we're not pushing it that far yet. If he wants to push it far enough, he can even arrest you for failure to identify to a law enforcement officer.
As The Free Thought Project points out, Alabama law allows officers to stop and question someone they suspect has committed a crime. In this case, the justification for stopping Dickerson was that he was running late at night, in a neighborhood where burglaries occur. Seems pretty weak.
On Facebook, Dickerson commented that he knew the police didn't have grounds to detain him.
He wrote: "Alabama is a stop and frisk state that is true but the police still has to have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed to detain you and there is no law saying you are required to show ID."
Dickerson also offered an explanation for his night jog on Facebook: "…. hell I don't want to run in the sun." Fair point.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.