Police: Deputy acted properly stopping man on sidewalk
Pontiac — A videotaped encounter between an Oakland deputy and a man he stopped on Thanksgiving Day after a business owner dialed 911 to report someone acting suspiciously shows the officer did nothing wrong, despite the social media rancor over the video, a police spokesman said Sunday.
The video, which has been posted on YouTube, slate.com and dailykos.com, among other websites, begins with an Oakland County sheriff's deputy explaining to the man that someone had called to report he was acting suspiciously, albeit, with his hands in his pocket as he was walking down a street in the cold. As the man videoed the deputy, the officer pulled out his own cell phone and also taped the exchange.
"You're making people nervous," the deputy said.
"By walking by?" answered the man.
"Yeah, they said you had your hands in your pockets," the deputy said.
"Wow, walking by with your hands in your pockets makes people nervous to call the police when it's snowing outside?" the man said.
A Facebook user who claimed he was the man who was stopped did not respond Sunday to a request for comment.
The man, apparently agitated by the stop, prompted the deputy to ask: "Is it an inconvenience to talk to me right now?"
"Hell, yeah," the man answered. "Just because of the whole police situation going on across the country, this is outrageous … there's 10,000 people in Pontiac right now with their hands in their pockets."
"You're right," the officer said. "We've just had a lot of robberies. I'm just checking on you. If you're fine, we're good."
"I'm being very respectable; you're being very respectable," the man said.
At that point, the deputy said, "High five," and slapped palms with the man, who added: "It's just … the whole situation … I'm really mad at the situation, at whoever called. That's crazy."
"Well, hey, we've got to check," the deputy answered. "If you were nervous, if you called us, we'd check for you."
"For sure, but I'd just never call," the man replied before the video cut off.
Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said Sunday that the deputy acted properly, and took exception to bloggers and social media commenters who he said took the video out of context, and didn't bother checking to get the rest of the story.
"The store that called about the man has been robbed multiple times in the last year," McCabe said. "In addition, employees have been robbed while making deliveries. According to the caller, this man was walking back and forth in front of the store five or six times.
"The deputy did a decent job," McCabe said. "He pulled his cell phone out and videotaped it after the man pulled out his cell phone, just to make sure the whole thing was documented."
Police officers, by law, are allowed to make what are known as "Terry stops," a brief detention of a person, if they have reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity.
"The deputy never even patted this man down; he didn't ask for ID," McCabe said. "It was just a stop prompted by a 911 call from a business nearby that had been robbed multiple times.
"It's unfortunate that the social media posts things now without verifying or getting the other side of the story," McCabe said.