Race & Identity
A Pajama-Clad Firefighter Claimed To Be A Police Officer And Held This 20-Year-Old At Gunpoint
The firefighter also called the actual police.
A young, black man was out running errands in Bridgeport, Illinois on August 24 when he was confronted by a gun-wielding man in pajamas.
Jermayne Smith told CBS Chicago the man thought he was breaking into cars and identified himself as a police officer. The man was later identified as a firefighter.
According to Smith, the man told him, “'Get on the ground. What are you doing in the neighborhood? Get on the ground before I shoot you.'”
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The firefighter called 911 and Smith was briefly handcuffed as the gunman talked with officers. Smith said the responding officers asked him if he had touched a car, and told them he had not. The responding officers wrote the incident off as a misunderstanding, and Smith was allowed to leave.
The 20-year-old later filed a citizen complaint. A few protesters delivered a letter to a Bridgeport police station asking for a follow-up, something that has yet to emerge.
Smith’s father, Jermaine Smith, and a group of supporters held a press conference Wednesday to demand charges be filed against the firefighter, reports The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Jermaine, his son did not attend the conference because he was afraid to be in the area.
“Anything could have startled him,” Jermayne's father said of the gunman. “He would have killed my son. My baby wouldn’t be here. We’d be making funeral arrangements because of this.”
The Chicago Police Department agreed to look into the incident, and will meet with Smith’s supporters on September 17.
The firefighter’s name has not been released because charges have not been filed. A Chicago Fire Department spokesman said the organization is “watching very carefully to see what the investigation determines.”
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