A recent video of a Black man publicly arrested in front of his small children has caused shockwaves in Virginia Beach and prompted apologies from Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate, according to WTKR.
Jamar Mackey, his fiancée and their two children were sitting in Virginia Beach's Lynnhaven Mall on Dec. 19 enjoying a meal together when their entire day was ruined by a mistake from local police, according to NBC News.
In a video shared by Shantel Covil, Mackey's fiancée, on Facebook, police handcuffed the father in front of his 13-year-old son and newborn child because they were looking for a credit card thief who was allegedly Black with locs, like Mackey.
The police officers paraded Mackey through the crowd handcuffed, and just minutes after coming outside, they realized the real culprit had already been apprehended.
"You're going to do this in public, make me walk outside in front of my family," Mackey asked police.
“What did he do, can you tell us? We just came with our family, we don’t even have a black truck,” Mackey’s fiancée said in the video. “We’re with our kids! You think my son will forget this?”
The officers apologized once they realized they had handcuffed the wrong man. Mackey criticized the officers for detaining him in front of his children and failing to ask basic questions beforehand.
On Monday, Neudigate lauded the officers for arresting Mackey in a "calm" manner before adding that the police department is looking into the situation because of the public outcry.
“Certainly, anyone would be upset about being detained for something they didn’t do. While the video shows the officer stayed calm and respectful throughout the brief encounter, we must ensure the situation merits the response. We are gathering all the facts to evaluate the incident so we can address the concerns people have raised," Neudigate said on the police department website.
After further backlash, Neudigate held a press conference to apologize again.
“Right or wrong, we have to be able to apologize when our actions greatly inconvenience a member of the community," he said.
During the press conference, he said the police department is investigating whether Mackey's detainment and "the use of handcuffs was justified."
Mackey thanked people for speaking up for him in a Facebook post.
"It was a very traumatic experience for our family that we wouldn’t wish on anyone," he wrote.
"We have [an] overwhelming amount of messages and we don’t want anyone to think we are ignoring them we’re just trying to get back that sense of normalcy in our home so we can attempt to enjoy the holidays with our family," he added.
Mackey said it was "dehumanizing" to be detained that way, in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday.
"It's just like … nothing has changed. How is everything still the same? How do you still racially profile a Black man with dreads that way in 2020? How do you do that? It's still happening in this day to Black men," Mackey told Good Morning America.
"What if he had shot me in front of my son or Tased me in front of my son, like for no reason," he added.
Lawmakers in Virginia Beach did not hold back in condemning the incident, slamming the police for their statements and actions.
Rep. Elaine Luria, who represents Virginia's Second Congressional Districts, spoke out about the situation on Twitter, writing that it was "unacceptable."
Jamar Mackey’s wrongful detainment in front of his children was unacceptable and emblematic of the frequent disproportionate treatment of people of color by law enforcement.https://t.co/2nQynkqDSE
— Elaine Luria (@ElaineLuriaVA) December 21, 2020
Councilman Aaron Rouse wrote a Facebook post about what happened to Mackey and explained that he has tried to bring up racial justice issues but has been routinely ignored, even after George Floyd's killing this summer.
"I refuse to buy into the myth that social justice issues are issues unrelated to our city," he wrote. "This incident happened in our city. How does a law-abiding citizen, a family man, husband, father, and small business owner get handcuffed for something he didn’t do? Why did it happen to him? What is [the] standard operating procedure?"
"In the midst of a global pandemic, Virginia Beach police officers — without masks or personal protective equipment — mistakenly detained a Black man who was spending quality time with his family," the statement read.
"As a Virginia Beach officer stated 'you have the right to be upset,' and indeed we are just that: quite upset. Even more alarming, calls from the Virginia Beach NAACP to the Virginia Beach Police Chief remain unanswered as of Sunday evening. The NAACP will not rest until every Black citizen in Virginia Beach can shop, dine, and travel without being racially profiled by our city’s police officers," the group added.
Neudigate has since apologized for the officers not wearing masks during the situation and said police leaders were trying to understand what happened before handcuffing Mackey.
“I think it’s important that he hears from the chief that we’re sorry that this happened to you. We’re sorry that this happened in a public venue in front of your children at the holidays,” Neudigate told WTKR.
The officers involved have not been named and Neudigate said the officers do not have bodycams.