Black Man Who Didn't Commit a Crime Held at Gunpoint by Omaha Police

Illustration for article titled Black Man Who Didnt Commit a Crime Held at Gunpoint by Omaha Police
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In Omaha, Neb., a Black man was held at gunpoint even though he didn’t commit any crime—he just “fit the description.”

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According to KETV, Timothy Hardy was walking his neighbor’s daughter home to make sure she arrived safely after hearing gunshots. As he arrived home, he was confronted by a police officer on his front lawn who held him at gunpoint until more officers arrived. The whole time this was happening, Hardy’s family was inside documenting what was happening. “I was scared. Scared for my family. I didn’t want them to witness me getting gunned down,” Hardy told KETV.

Omaha Police sent a statement to KETV saying that they were in the area “looking for an armed suspect that ran from a traffic stop. The suspect was described as a Black male, dreadlocks, gray tank top, dark shorts, armed with a handgun.” A commanding officer called in and said that Hardy met the description but was wearing white shorts. “I fit the description. Black guy with dreads. Basically racial profiling,” Hardy told the station.

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In a video of the incident, Hardy’s fiancée Alicia Gunter can be heard telling the officers that their four-month-old daughter was in the car but she was not allowed to get her. “It broke me. When they finally let me get her, the first person I called was my dad. I couldn’t even talk. I couldn’t talk. I was hysterical,” Gunter told KETV. “My youngest son, after it all happened, Timothy was coming outside. And he said, ‘Dad, are [the] police going to shoot you?”

As he was being cuffed, Hardy informed the officers he had a concealed weapon, but it was one he had a permit for. “Shortly after [Hardy] was handcuffed, it was learned that he was not involved and not the suspect officers were looking for. It was determined [Hardy] was a valid CCW holder, officers took the handcuff off of [Hardy] and he was released,” Omaha police wrote in their statement.

Hardy has said that Omaha police simply walked away after the incident, and they’ve made no attempt to contact him since. He and his fiancée simply wished the officers approached calmly and didn’t have their weapons drawn.

“It could happen to any one of us. Any one Black guy with dreads. It could have been anybody,” Hardy stressed.

Jr Staff Writer @TheRoot. Watcher of wrestling, player of video games. Mr. Steal Your Disney+ Password.

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DISCUSSION

Makes Me Wonder Why I Even Bring The Thunder

Hold up a second, because I don’t think we’re all on the same page about what “fit[ting] the description” means; these cops treated Timothy Hardy like a suspect because he met an actual description, including race, gender, build, hairstyle, cut of shirt, color of shirt, shorts and vicinity. The different color of shorts was considered, but it’s not like no one has ever ditched, turned inside out, or added an item of clothing to try to escape.

Clearly this was upsetting and traumatic for Timothy Hardy and his family, and we all know it ends differently both too often and disproportionately.

From there, it’s worth discussing if we want to live in a society where the cops search for armed suspects who fire guns and flee, as well as if we should explicitly fund aftercare for various types of police contact.