Officer fired after allegedly profiling black shoppers: 'Got my rights to do anything I want to do'

Justin Chan

An off-duty deputy constable in Indiana was immediately fired after he allegedly profiled two black shoppers at a shopping mall, CNN reports. 

On Nov. 12, Aaron Blackwell, 42, recorded a 17-minute encounter in which he and his cousin Durrell Cunningham, 39, were confronted by the officer as they left the Nordstrom Rack in Indianapolis' Rivers Edge shopping center.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

In the video, the deputy, who WRTV identified as Daryl Jones, repeatedly asks the men, who are in a car, for identification and insists that he is the "officer of the law." 

When Blackwell and Cunningham press Jones for a reason as to why they were stopped, Jones says that the two were acting suspiciously. At one point, the deputy also says, "I got my rights to do anything I want to do. I'm a police officer."

An officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department later arrives and Jones tells him that Blackwell and Cunningham left the Nordstrom Rack with items. When the officer asks Jones whether the two men stole anything, Jones says they did not. The officer then speaks to both Blackwell and Jones to clarify the situation. 

"The whole time, this guy is standing in there staring at us," Blackwell tells the cop. "And I don't want to be the first one to say he's profiling us, whatever, whatever, you know, or whatever. But it is what it is."

The officer tells the men that the traffic stop was unwarranted and lets them leave. 

In an interview with CNN, Lawrence Township Constable Terry Burns declined to confirm that Jones, who had been working as an off-duty security guard at Nordstrom, was the deputy involved in the incident. Burns, however, added that the deputy had previously served in his department and worked as a court officer. 

"He was terminated last night when the video was brought to my attention," Burns told WRTV in a separate interview. "I did see the video and made the decision immediately and that pretty speaks of my reaction."

In a statement to CNN, Nordstrom said it told the third party involved in providing its security guards that Jones may also no longer work at any of its locations. 

"We take matters like this seriously and don't tolerate discrimination of any kind," the company said. "As soon as we became aware of the incident, we apologized to the customer."

Blackwell told CNN that he hopes the recorded incident brings attention to the issues that the black community faces when dealing with law enforcement.

"Nothing I say can change the video," he said. "I don't know if that guy was having a bad day, but he stepped over the line and he violated us... But what's important to me and my cousin is that it's out there and people are aware of it."

What to Read Next