Boulder, CO — Last year, American cops killed 1,183 people. Many of these people were unarmed, innocent, and some of them were even children. Most of the police officers involved in these killings will never be held accountable due to a system that perpetuates this behavior. The disturbing video below shows just how ridiculous police interactions in the ostensible land of the free have become as eight cops surrounded a black man and nearly shot him—for picking up trash in his own front yard. Now, the cop who unlawfully detained the innocent man has resigned to avoid accountability.
Officials confirmed Thursday that John Smyly violated policy when he threatened and drew his gun in an attempt to arrest 26-year-old Zayd Atkinson in March. Atkinson had committed no crime, had harmed no one, and was providing a community service by removing trash from the apartment complex in which he lived.
What’s more, no one had called police to report a suspicious person and Smyly had no reason at all to make contact with him.
Despite being entirely innocent and aiding in the beautification of his neighborhood, Atkinson was approached by a Smyly because a black man picking up trash on his own property looked suspicious to him.
“I couldn’t help but notice you sitting on the patio behind this building …I’m just checking to make sure you have the right to be here,” Smyly tells Atkinson in the newly released body camera footage.
Atkinson then tells the officer that he lives in this building, is picking up trash and is a student at the University. But Smyly was not happy with this response and continued to needlessly escalate the situation.
As the video shows, the officer approaches Atkinson, telling him to “put the object down,” while the Atkinson replies “don’t f*cking tell me what to do,” and says, “I have a right to be doing this.”
“Sit down or you’re probably gonna get tased in a second” the officer ordered Atkinson, claiming a trash grabber was a weapon.
“Because you have a weapon … put it down and comply with my order!”
“You’re an idiot,” Atkinson is heard saying on the video. “Why would you think that you can tase me? I’m freakin’ picking up trash on my property, which is where I live! I’m not doing anything illegal and you’re not gonna [f**king] tase me, Officer.”
Instead of realizing that Atkinson had committed no crime and was entirely innocent, Smyly called for back up. Not realizing that he was harassing an innocent man for picking up trash, Smyly escalated the situation.
In total, eight police officers surrounded this innocent man for doing nothing other than picking up trash in his own yard. As Smyly noted in the video, some of the officers even drew their weapons.
“You came on to my property, with weapons drawn, in a place where I f**king sleep! How do you feel about that?”
Only after police verified with a white woman in the apartment complex that Atkinson did, in fact, live in the apartment complex, did they end this potentially deadly confrontation.
“Yes!” the woman snapped at police, angry at what she had just witnessed, and confirming that Atkinson lived in the apartment.
Despite giving police his ID and name, they waited until after the white woman confirmed before leaving.
“We’ve decided that we’re gonna end things at this point,” one officer said after the woman confirmed Atkinson lived there.
“Oh wow, what a surprise …” Atkinson is heard replying.
An internal affairs investigation found that Smyly’s attempt to harass and detain Atkinson “was not supported by reasonable suspicion that Mr. Atkinson was committing, had committed, or was about to commit a crime.”
Instead of facing any repercussions for the policies he violated, Smyly resigned and ended his 14-year stint on the department last week. He is now a gypsy cop and will likely be hired at another department where he will carry out similar atrocities.
“While the finding likely would have resulted in suspension or possibly termination, Officer Smyly resigned prior to the conclusion of the disciplinary process,” a statement released by the City of Boulder on Thursday reads. Must be nice.
“I thought that once the firearm was out that that meant that he was going to try to kill me,” Atkinson said. “It was a frightening experience. I didn’t know what else to do besides, you know, to fight with my voice and to practice my rights, which were thoroughly being breached.”
Below is this most infuriating video that shows what picking up trash while black looks like.