Officer Fired After Arresting Black Man Who Was Collecting Signatures In His Neighborhood
The father of two returned home after spending a night in jail, charged with obstructing police.
January 24, 2021 at 6:28 pm
A Michigan Deputy has been fired after the arrest of a Black man who was collecting signatures to form a tenant association in his Springfield, Michigan neighborhood.
According to MLive, the unidentified Calhoun County deputy and his colleague approached La’Ron Marshall on Jan. 2 at a neighbor’s doorstep, saying they had received a call about a suspicious person going door-to-door soliciting. As Marshall tried to explain that he was only collecting signatures, the now-terminated deputy arrested him for failing to provide an identification card.
The confrontation happened when Marshall went to the house of Kimberly Totzke, hoping to get one more signature before wrapping up the day. Totzke, who watched the incident unfold on her porch, said she pulled out her phone to record the interaction when the confrontation appeared to be escalating.
"Based on what is going on in the world right now, he was a Black man on my porch, and the police were here. I was like, ‘OK, it’s time to roll,'" Totzke told Fox 17.
Totzke said the incident was also captured on the Ring camera at her house.
"I turned on my house camera, and when it continued to get a little more hostile, I brought out my phone to record it. I didn’t think that my house camera would be sufficient for what was happening," she said.
Marshall's 13-year-old son, Jabrien Deal, said he witnessed the incident along with his 8-year-old brother.
"It was just hard to see because I just didn’t want my little brother to see, and I didn’t want me to see," Deal said. "I was crying because my dad was getting manhandled by two police officers."
Marshall, who had been living in the Wyndtree Townhomes complex in Springfield for four months, said he had collected almost 100 signatures to form the tenant organization.
"I got almost 100 signatures. There’s 160 units out here, and you know, pretty much everyone was on board," he said.
The father of two, who was permitted to return home after spending a night in jail, was charged with obstructing police. Sheriff Steven Hinkley and undersheriff Timothy Hurtt later gave an apology to Marshall, who accused the officer of racial profiling.
“We hold ourselves to high standards of professionalism to the communities we protect. When we are right, we are right. When we are wrong, we admit we are wrong. On Jan. 2, we were wrong,” Hinkley and Hurtt released in a statement. "The conduct and actions of this case, in which Mr. Marshall was collecting signatures, does not represent our commitment to our community. The actions that Mr. Marshall took that day of circulating a petition are protected by our Constitution."
The department also said some ordinances within Calhoun County prohibit vendors from selling items without a permit, but there's no law anywhere that prohibits "Mr. Marshall from exercising his constitutional rights."
According to a 2019 survey from the Pew Research Center, 84% of Black adults said that Black people are generally treated less fairly than whites during interactions with police. The study also found 63% of whites who expressed the same sentiment about Black adults facing unfair treatment.
The report concluded that Black adults are about five times as likely as whites to say they’ve been unfairly stopped by police because of their race or ethnicity.