Police in Boulder, Colorado, have launched an internal affairs investigation after video surfaced showing a police officer drawing a pistol on a black man who was picking up trash outside his own home on March 1st. The police officer, who called other officers to the scene, is on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.
According to the police department, an officer observed a man sitting in a partially enclosed patio area behind a “private property” sign and asked if the man was allowed to be there. The man said he lived and worked at the building and produced an identification card but the officer continued to question the man. The unidentified man is a student at Naropa University in Boulder, and the building is listed as a school residence.
The 16 minute video shows the officer approaching the man, who was using a trash picker and bucket to clean up his yard. The officer is shown talking with the man and has his hand on his hip, near his gun. As the video continues, several other officers arrive at the scene as the man is shouting “You’re on my property with a gun in your hand, threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash. I hope that camera is on.” The man’s roommate, who is filming, is shouting “He’s picking up trash, and you have your hand on your gun? He lives here, go home!” The officer repeatedly tells the man to drop his weapon and both the man and his roommate respond that he does not have a weapon.
The man is shouting that he lives there, on private property and is picking up trash outside his dorm. He refuses to sit down and tells police to get off his property before asking if they are going to shoot him, tase him or beat him up for picking up trash outside his own home. The man holds the trash picker in the air saying “you’re calling this a weapon?” and the officer responds that it can be used as a weapon. The man argues that it is not ok for them to harass him with their hands on their guns for picking up trash in his front yard and repeatedly tells them to leave. His roommate who is filming comments that one of the officers is holding a shotgun.
A total of eight officers responded, including a supervisor and it was later confirmed by police that the object the man was holding was used to pick up trash. Boulder police released a statement saying “Officers ultimately determined that the man had a legal right to be on the property and returned the man’s school identification card,” the release said. “All officers left the area and no further action was taken.” In a police report, the officer claimed the man was uncooperative and “unwilling to put down a blunt object”—even though the man and his roommate repeatedly identified the object as a trash picker. The officer who drew his weapon has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
The video has gone viral and sparked outrage throughout the community. During a city council meeting, Police Chief Greg Testa told the crowd: “All aspects of this incident, specifically the actions of the initial officer, are being investigated… in contrast to what was stated in the video that is on social media, body-worn camera video indicates that only one officer had a handgun out, and it was pointed at the ground.”