Race & Identity
T-Mobile Employees Call Cops On Black Men Shopping For Phone
A trip to purchase new phones yielded in officers drawing guns on the two men.
Two men were held at gunpoint by Fresno police officers following a false burglary call in a local shopping center.
Dorian Johnson, 26, and his uncle, Vincent Lemar, were shopping in a T-Mobile store on Monday, June 25, for the latest iPhone when the pair became the most recent black people to have the police called on them for doing nothing at all.
In a video of the incident captured by Lemar, Johnson laid on the ground as an officer points his weapon at him. A squad car pulled into the T-Mobile parking lot moments before a woman in the parking lot, identified as Johnson's girlfriend, Gloria Bush, is seen inquiring about the situation.
Bush told The Fresno Bee she dropped the two men off around noon. The Bee reports Bush went to another store to buy milk and donuts for their two children. When she returned to pick them up, that's when she saw the incident unfold.
"All I saw was guns pointed at my babies' daddy, and he was on the ground. I didn't know if they had already shot him," Bush, 23, of Fresno, told The Bee on Friday, June 29. "I said, 'Tell me what's going on. I know he's a good man. I know he wasn't here with bad intentions."
According to The Bee, the T-Mobile employees made the call claiming that a possible burglary was taking place. But the two men can't understand why employees assumed that in the first place. Johnson and Lemar both accuse the workers of racial profiling.
"This was racial profiling at its finest. Prejudice in its precipice," Lemar said on Facebook. "And T-Mobile should do something about this highly uncalled for but totally avoidable misunderstanding."
Despite the accusations of racism, the company stands by the worker's decision.
"The safety and comfort of our customers, our TPR dealers and their employees is paramount to us. We are taking this incident very seriously and are actively investigating to determine exactly what occurred. Though we have found no evidence that the employees acted improperly, we would take definitive action if we did."
In the video, Johnson consoled his girlfriend while speaking to the officers simultaneously. He told her to relax while informing officers of his plans to buy a new phone.
However, the guns remained drawn.
"I don't see what made them call and what would have given them the suspicion that they were going to get robbed. We weren't up to anything," Johnson said. "It's just crazy. I don't understand. Nobody not once came and apologized for what happened."
While there were no arrests, at least four officers were present on the scene. Dennis Bridges, Fresno police acting deputy chief, said the officers responded appropriately to the call following a review of their body cam footage.
"The officers were going into it with limited information," Bridges said. "It would be like how they would respond if a robbery alarm button was pushed and when they called the business back, they didn't get an answer. They could assume they didn't answer because they were being robbed."