An Alabama police officer allegedly roughed up two African American teens in Eufaula because “the only thing allowed black in this neighborhood is a cat on a porch.”
Jua’wan Johnson and his friend Raymond Cunningham, both 16, told the Barbour County Reporter that a police officer stopped and handcuffed them for being in a white neighborhood.
Johnson is the cousin of Cameron Massey, a 26-year-old man who was shot and killed by police in Eufaula last October during a traffic stop. After a grand jury convened earlier this year it found no probable cause that the officers involved had committed a crime and no further criminal action was recommended on April 2.
The Eufaula High School students have no criminal records and have never been in trouble with the law. They say they were stopped Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. by Lieutenant Calvin Osborn as they were walking home from a friend’s house.
“He asked us what we were doing in the neighborhood because he said we looked suspicious and someone had called the cops on us,” Cunningham told the County Reporter.
When they said they went to visit a friend in the neighborhood, Osborn allegedly told them, “The only thing black in this neighborhood is that cat on the porch," Johnson said.
“We was like, we were going to see a friend. And he told us ‘the only thing black in that neighborhood is cats,’” Cunningham said.
The pair say they were aggressively searched by Osborn. When one of their teachers drove by and recognized them, she stopped her car and identified the students. Osborn allegedly yelled at her to move on. He then called for backup.
Cunningham said he was then shoved to the curb and threatened – which he recorded on his cell phone.
“He had no interest in anything we had to say about what we were doing or why we were where we were,” Cunningham said. “My first concern was that he did not plant drugs on us or make it look like we did anything aggressive where he could make up an excuse to use force against us. With my hand I eased my cell phone out of my pocket and discreetly started capturing the encounter on video.”
Johnson said Osborn then asked his age, and when he told him the officer said he “wasn’t giving him the right information.”
The officer then handcuffed him, threw him against the car and then put him in the back of the vehicle.
He said the officer took a black head rag from him and tried to wrap it around his arm “to make it look like I was gang-related.”
The officer then said, “How about that boy?”
He drove off with Johnson, taking him to the police station and leaving Cunningham standing on the curb.
Cunningham immediately found Johnson’s mother, Cassandra Johnson, at a nearby church meeting and she rushed to the police station to retrieve her son.
Police told her the 16-year-old was “arrested as being an unsupervised child.”
“What law is there that says a 16-year-old child after school has to be supervised? Show me that law right now, if not I want my child back,” she recalled telling the police.
Cassandra and her son have filed a complaint against the Eufaula police with city hall and have contacted the U.S. Justice Department asking for an investigation.