Karle Robinson, a 61-year-old retired military veteran, was moving into his new home in Tanganoxie, Kan., at around 2:30 a.m. when police pulled up.
Now even Robinson can understand why the officer was a little curious, if not suspicious during their Aug. 19 encounter, given the hour and the fact that he was trying to carry a large TV. But still, the homeowner took issues with being handcuffed on his own property, even as he attempted to clear up the situation.
“I could use a hand with this,” Robinson recalled quipping to the officer who approached him with a flashlight shining, the Kansas City Star reports.
Instead of a helping hand, Robinson would spend the next eight minutes in handcuffs, being treated like a burglary suspect as the officer waited for his story to check out.
Robinson said he explained that he had recently bought the house and was moving in, adding that he had his identification and his paperwork proving his ownership inside. Robinson offered to take the officer to see the paperwork, and maybe the cop could give him a hand with the TV.
Instead, the officer demanded that Robinson put his hands on the side of the house, and then on top of his head, before he ultimately ended up in cuffs.
“If I’d been a white man, you know that wouldn’t happen,” Robinson told the Star. “I’m being handcuffed right here on my own damn property.”
Tonganoxie Police Chief Greg Lawson defended the officer’s actions, saying that the officer was trying to balance courtesy and respect while keeping himself and Robinson safe.
As the officer was by himself and had reason to suspect that a crime was being committed, the handcuffs were only used up until the officer could verify Robinson’s story and keep the situation calm.
“If I were on that call, by myself, no matter the race of the person, they would have been handcuffed,” he said.
Still in video of the incident, Robinson could be heard calmly questioning the officer, “Is this all necessary?”
The officer was friendly enough and explained that Robinson was out here “at three in the morning,” and noted that there had been a lot of break-ins in the area lately, but Robinson think something else was going on.
“That’s a lie,” Robinson told the Star, noting he had spoken with neighbors and none of them knew of any problems with break-ins.
“They’re thinking I’m stealing,” he said. “I’ve been hearing this for 40 years — getting pulled over, being searched. I’m not going to let this go.”
In the moment, Robinson didn’t argue, in the days following the encounter, he filed a complaint with the department and met with the chief.
“Anyone who thinks we’re in a post-racial world should refer to that,” he said, referring to the body camera footage showing his encounter with police.
At least in the end the officers helped him get his TV into his home.