Des Moines Police officer accused of racial profiling

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DES MOINES –  An officer is accused of racial profiling two black men during a traffic stop that occurred on July 15th.

Local 5’s Angelina Salcedo took a look at both sides and spoke to Des Moines Police who are denying all the accusations.

Members of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement gave Local 5 dash cam video they asked for. The video shows two Des Moines Police officers pulling over a white rental car driven by 23-year-old Montray Little and 21-year-old Jared Clinton.

Iowa CCI claims the officers never say why they pulled the men over and accuse the men of having a gun and drugs. They say video shows a serious problem within the Des Moines Police Department that needs to be addressed.   

“My son got to come home, so I’m happy about that, but why are you baiting him? Unless you really thought he had a gun. What could he had done differently?,” said the mother of Jared Clinton, Laurel Clinton.  

Clinton says this isn’t the first time one of her three sons has been racially profiled by Des Moines Police. When she saw the video she said her heart broke.

“They kept saying to him, ‘We think you have a gun! It’s making us nervous,’ Why? He was in a neutral position once I got the body cam. So my question to them is, how are they supposed to act when you pull them over?,” said Clinton.

In the video the male officer tells the men, “Can I be honest with you? It smells like marijuana in the car and I can see shake on the ground and your buddy is giving me the idea that he has a gun.”

Iowa CCI told Local 5 it believes the male officer involved has a history of racial profiling, saying he booked 282 people into the Polk County Jail in 2017 and 100% of those people were black. 

“The number just seems really inaccurate and they paint a picture that’s not really true,” said Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek.

This is the first time Des Moines Police were made aware of the incident, but they’re denying the claims saying racial profiling isn’t an issue.

“You take this video and you put it out on this platform with these allegations attached, essentially slandering this cop without the facts, we’re going to definitely investigate this and there is some frustration with how this is shared with the community,” said Sgt. Parizek.

Des Moines Police are investigating the numbers reported by Iowa CCI and the body cam video. Sgt. Paul Parizek says the officer who’s being accused has had two other complaints of racial profiling that have been “unfounded.” 

Local 5 asked Iowa CCI why they’re releasing this video. They say they’re trying to spread awareness during their series of “Skin Color is Not Reasonable Suspicion” series. The organization and community members have had two meetings with City Council to talk about racial profiling. Their last will be on September 6th at the Polk County Central Senior Center at 6:30pm.

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