"I can’t un-see the guns, the dog, the officers forcing their way into my apartment, the small army waiting for me outside."
Fay Wells shared in an essay with the Washington Post, the harrowing account of the moment 16 Santa Monica police officers descended upon her home to investigate the report of a burglary.
Wells had locked herself out of her apartment, called a locksmith to provide her with a new key, and a white neighbor called the police whose subsequent actions have since made her feel unsafe in her own space.
"I’m heartbroken by the sense of terror I got from people whose job is supposedly to protect me. I’m heartbroken by a system that evades accountability and justifies dangerous behavior," she said.
Wells, who is both a Duke and Dartmouth graduate, currently works as a vice president of strategy at a multinational company, but none of that mattered as police officers pointed the barrels of their guns in her direction.
"I had no idea what was happening, but I saw how it would end: I would be dead in the stairwell outside my apartment, because something about me—a 5-foot-7, 125-pound Black woman—frightened this man with a gun," Well wrote.
The neighbor, who Wells said now ignores her intentionally in passing, mistook her and the locksmith for hispanic perpetrators in the 911 call. Police arrived on the scene expecting to apprehend a potential suspect who fit the description.
Following the incident, Wells inquired as to the names and badge numbers of the officers who were at her home that September night. The SMPD provided a list of 19 names, three more than Wells recalls counting.
An internal affairs incident is open with the department into accusations of racially charged misconduct.