Student details unfair conduct

Law student reports mistreatment by police on Corner, files formal complaint for investigation


University Police currently are investigating an alleged incident of police misconduct toward a University student last month.

Law student Johnathan Perkins was walking to his apartment on Wertland Street March 31 when a University police squad car approached him, Perkins said in an email.

Two University police officers asked Perkins, who is black, for identification and searched him for weapons, he said. When he asked the reason for the search, the officers replied he matched the description of a person they were looking for, Perkins said.

"The whole time they made snide and sarcastic comments to one another," he said.

The officers, both of whom were white, refused to give Perkins their names or badge numbers, he said.

After the search, Perkins said the officers followed him in the squad car, "lights still flashing," as he walked back to his apartment.

Perkins described his reaction as "one of humiliation and anger," and said his friends and professors at the University encouraged him to report the incident.

In a letter to the editor of the Virginia Law Weekly April 22, Perkins explained the incident in detail. He also sent a copy of the letter to University Police, who took it as a formal complaint, he said.

University Police Lt. Melissa Fielding released an official statement about the incident, saying "this incident is currently under investigation by UPD, and it is therefore inappropriate for me to discuss it. I will say, however, that we expect our officers to be both professional and courteous."

Perkins described University Police as "nothing but accommodating" in dealing with the incident and working to find the officers, who are still unknown.

Perkins said he wrote the letter with the intent to expose incidents such as his to the greater University community.

"Too many people think that incidents like these are a thing of the past," Perkins said. "Black students, on the whole, are not surprised by these things and are fairly used to them."

Perkins said he is hopeful that sharing his experience will help the University community in future dialogues.

"The community should know that, in my eyes, it's not about finding the particular officers who did this," he said. "It's more important to forgive them, learn from the incident, and educate others about these types of things"

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