A Baltimore County police officer was caught on video having stopped a Black man at a Kohl’s without probable cause last week. A clip showing what happened when John Holt, 24, appeared to be harassed by an officer while doing nothing but simply walking through a store while Black. The video has been viewed more than 720,000 times as of Tuesday morning.
The footage is the latest to capture an incident between police and people of color that has raised more questions about racial profiling.
Holt was confronted by Officer H.R. Persuhn, who is white, on Thursday when the officer said he recognized Holt from prior encounters. Persuhn asked Holt, who was with his fiancée, for identification to see if there was a warrant for his arrest. Holt asked the officer why he had been stopped before saying that he was being harassed by Persuhn, who maintained that he was “doing his job,” according to The Baltimore Sun. Persuhn, who was with another officer, wrongfully tried to paint Holt as a criminal and disputed facts about a prior case involving the man. The officer also aggressively patronized Holt, telling him to stop talking loudly while getting in his face in the incident captured by Holt’s fiancée on video.
“Every Where I Go He Harass Me,” Holt wrote on Facebook. “It Not Fair That They Can Do What They Want It Gotta Be Something I can Do Bout This plz Share An Show The World How Disrespectfully Baltimore county Police are to us Blacks.”
Many incidents between police officers and people of color are videotaped via an officer’s body camera, a police car dash camera or with cell phones used by bystanders or witnesses. The video of Holt’s encounter with the officer goes to show that the young man was stopped for no credible reason.
Persuhn had recognized Holt from a previous court appearance, Holt said. Regardless if Persuhn wanted to argue with Holt, the man was a legal shopper at the store and did nothing to warrant the harassment. The incident ended with Persuhn getting clearance that Holt had no warrants against him, and the man walked away vindicated. Incidents like this one, however, are exactly the kind that leads to people of color being brutalized or killed as officers say that they were resisting authority.