Akron police are considering whether to charge a white man accused of bringing a shotgun to confront a 29-year-old black man who was standing at a bus stop on the east side of the city this week, a department spokesman said.
Lt. Michael Miller said the city prosecutor is reviewing the verbal confrontation between two men, which the black man recorded on his phone, as a possible threatening or menacing, as well as a possible charge for having a weapon in a vehicle.
The video showed what appears to be a black gun of some kind across the man’s lap. Miller said “every assumption” from police was that it was a gun. Whether the gun was loaded is unclear.
The city also released a statement calling the incident “disturbing” and condemning “acts of intimidation and racial profiling.”
“Every single Akron resident should feel safe to go about their business without fear of being stereotyped,” the statement said. “Having dark skin does not make someone a threat; and standing at a bus stop is not a crime — period.”
The incident occurred Wednesday at a bus stop on the east side of Akron, according to a police report filed and a social media posting containing photos and video from the incident.
While posts on social media have tied the white man to a nearby business based on his uniform, the Akron Beacon Journal has not been able to confirm his identity. Police did not identify him in the initial report.
Miller said police also responded to the business identified on social media Thursday morning when the owner called to report several harassing phone calls. Patrols stopped by the business twice more during the day to check in, he said. The phone number listed for the business appeared to be disconnected Friday.
A police report was filed about the phone calls, Miller said, but it was not made public as of Friday afternoon.
The police report of the initial interaction — taken over the phone by a dispatcher Wednesday night, Miller said — stated a black man reported a white man approached him at the bus stop near Darrow Road and Newton Street and asked him if he was waiting for the bus.
The man replied that he was, and the other man left. About 10 to 15 minutes later, the report said, the white man returned in a vehicle with a shotgun across his lap and said without getting out of the car, “No harm, no foul, but there’s a lot going on.”
The video shows the white man also saying several times that he doesn’t “want any problems.”
The black man tells him he just got off work, and that he is holding his work shirt in his other hand.
“I’m by myself,” he says.
The man who filed the report did not respond to an interview request Friday. His father posted the photos and video on Facebook Wednesday. By Friday afternoon, the 1 minute, 20-second video of the second confrontation had 155,000 views.
The incident and subsequent investigation come at a time when the city and the country are grappling with deep divides over race following the death of a black man, George Floyd, by police officers in Minneapolis, who have been charged.
While police violence has taken center stage in the resulting protests, members of the black community also have highlighted times in their everyday lives when police or the general public profiled them or believed them to be dangerous just by the color of their skin.
“Akron’s diversity is what makes us a great city; and we will continue to strive every day to be a more inclusive community where all our residents can feel safe and welcome,” the city’s statement said.