The violent arrest of Austin, Texas school teacher Breaion King is the latest to illustrate the increasingly troubling manner in which African-Americans are treated during confrontations with police, but Breaion admits she was hesitant to come forward to tell her story for several reasons.
Although the incident occurred in June of 2015, it wasn't until last week when the video footage was released that Breaion's arrest gained national attention. In the now-viral clip, Breaion is seen being approached in a parking lot by police officer Bryan Richter, who says she was speeding. Upon parking, Breaion exits her vehicle & appears unaware that she is being pulled over until the officer informs her and asks her to get back in her vehicle. The officer then approaches the vehicle and engages in brief conversation with Breaion about why she was stopped, before eventually asking her for her license and registration. Breaion complies, but the conversation quickly escalates after she questions officer Richter's orders to place her feet back in her car so he can close her door. Officer Richter then asks that she stand up before going in to aggressively yank her out of her car and throw her to the ground when she doesn't immediately comply with his orders. A struggle between Breaion and the officer continues and she manages to stand up before he slams her back to the ground and finally secures the handcuffs. A second office arrives shortly after and the two place Breaion in the back of patrol car, where the second officer is heard telling Breaion that "so many people are afraid" of African-Americans because of their "violent tendencies."
When asked why it took her over a year to come forward and share her story, Breaion told KXAN News that she was scared and ashamed. “I asked God why, is there something that I’ve done? What is it — so part of me felt like is there something wrong with me, what’s wrong with me?” she said. “Honestly, I didn’t know what it was going to do, but I feared for my life. I was ashamed and I was hurt because I didn’t think it would be me.” Breaion went on to express feelings of embarrassment over the incident and says she felt like she let her students down. "I know a lot of people look up to me so it was embarrassing, you know, my students, I felt like I was letting them down, I felt like I was letting my family down, my organization down, and I felt like I let myself down,” she continued.
According to the news outlet, Breaion hired an attorney and shared the video footage with her this past May. The Austin educator says seeing recent video footage of other police brutality cases helped give her the courage to come forward. “It’s given me the opportunity to be able to deal with it emotionally and mentally," she said. Despite her unpleasant encounter, she's hopeful that unity can help bring about change.
“I have a desire for us to come together as a nation, we need to have open discussions on the way people genuinely feel. What’s going on, how is this hurting you, why is this hurting you and what can we do to take away the fear?"
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.