KDPS opens investigation into racial profiling allegations

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Neighbors on Kalamazoo's north side are accusing officers of racial profiling, intimidation, and abuse of power.

They've filed a formal complaint against Kalamazoo Public Safety.

Newschannel 3 obtained exclusive cellphone video of the incident on August 13, and there is more than 40 minutes of video surrounding the confrontation.

Newschannel 3 went to get reaction Friday from Chief Jeff Hadley, as well as more information on the accusations from residents.

Chief Hadley confirmed Friday that he has seen the video, and that the case is now in the hands of professional standards.

A full investigation is now underway into the events in Kalamazoo that happened just four days after the events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Tensions escalated in the neighborhood after officers circled back in the neighborhood, believing they saw suspicious individuals leaving a car and smelled marijuana.

Cellphone video showed some of the incident.

Residents near Woodbury and Ada increasingly got angrier, believing officers had no reason to talk to or detain a teenager for more than 45 minutes.

They claim he wasn't driving the car in question.

"If there was any fear, it should have been on my part, that my grandson could have been laying in the street dead," said resident Thelma Fry. "The, there was no threat, no one approached the police or anything, he actually pushed my daughter and told her to get the "F" back in the house."

Things took a turn when officers tried arresting the teenager, and the tension was heightened after that, with officers carrying cans of pepper spray.

A formal complaint has been filed against Kalamazoo Public Safety, with Fry leading the charge.

It accuses officers of racial profiling, intimidation, and abuse of power.

Chief Hadley could not comment about the ongoing investigation, but says his officers have worked hard on building strong relationships with neighborhoods of color.

"They're just trying to do the best they can. They're out there working hard; they really, really are," he said. "When there are hiccups like a Woodbury incident, we can sit down and talk about it, and have rational discourse and work through the issue."

"No, we don't want people to react like that, but you've got to bring the police and community together to understand this is a community, especially in this neighborhood, that has been left out, left behind for so long," said Kalamazoo City Commissioner Stephanie Moore. "I don't know what else to do, but say you need to build better relationships."

Hadley says his officers have worked hard this year on race sensitivity and building trust.

After a racial profiling study last year, his officers now do more follow-ups on calls for service, and just started doing follow-ups on arrestees, checking on their experience.

They've also gone through training on fair policing and unconscious bias.

During the incident last week, there were two arrests.