On April 1st, Tyler Perry took to Facebook to express what he felt was a clear case of racial profiling during a recent traffic stop by the Atlanta Police Department.
Perry says he often looks in his rearview mirror to make sure he is not being followed. It is a tactic he says his security team encourages him to practice while driving. On the day in which his encounter with police occurred, he says on his Facebook page that he made a left turn from the right lane as he entered an intersection. It was at the point he says he was pulled over by two police officers.
Here is a snippet of Perry’s account on the incident, according to his April 1st message on Facebook:
As I got to an intersection, I made a left turn from the right lane and was pulled over by two police officers. I pulled the car over and put it in park. Then, I let the window down and sat in the car waiting for the officer. The officer came up to the driver’s door and said that I made an illegal turn. I said, “I signaled to get into the turning lane, then made the turn because I have to be sure I’m not being followed.” He said, “why do you think someone would be following you?”
Before I could answer him, I heard a hard banging coming from the passenger window. I had never been in this position before so I asked the officer who was at my window what was going on and why is someone banging on the window like that. He said, “let your window down, let your window down. Your windows are tinted.” As I let down the passenger window, there was another officer standing on the passenger side of the car. He said, “what is wrong with you?” The other officer said to him, “he thinks he’s being followed.” Then, the second officer said, “why do you think someone is following you? What is wrong with you?”
Before I could answer the officer on the passenger side, the one on the driver’s side had reached into the car and started pulling on the switch that turns the car on and off, saying, “put your foot on the brake, put your foot on the brake!” I was so confused as to what he was doing, or what he thought he was doing. It looked like he was trying to pull the switch out of the dashboard. I finally realized that he thought that switch was the key, so I told him that it wasn’t the key he was grabbing. I reached down into the cup holder to get the key, not realizing that the key had a black leather strap on it. As I grabbed it they both tensed up and I dropped it as I heard my mother’s voice from when I was a little boy.
According to TMZ, Perry admits that he made an illegal turn. But Perry claims he was racially profiled by the officers who he reportedly claims were “hostile” towards him. Perry was not issued a ticket and was sent on his way.
This is where the racial profiling claim gets a little gray. In an interview with Atlanta television station “My Fox Atlanta,” TMZ’s Harvey Levin asks why Perry wasn’t issued a ticket and questions the racial profiling claim. So, if Perry did in fact make an illegal turn that prompted the officers to stop him, is Perry’s racial profiling claim legitimate? Moreover, Perry’s car windows were tinted, so one has to question whether or not the officers knew Perry was black when he was pulled over.
Much of Perry’s Facebook post focuses on his interaction with the officers, not on why he was stopped.
TMZ reports that Malik Kadeem watched the whole incident and he says “the officers were ‘giving [Tyler] a hard time’ during the stop.” Video of TMZ’s interview with Kadeem is below:
The Atlanta Police Department are investigating the incident.
Given the information we have so far, was it possible that Tyler Perry racially harassed and not racially profiled? Stay tuned to NewsOne for more on this developing story.