A Black man who was handcuffed by police in Virginia Beach, Va., was mistaken by police for a credit card fraud suspect and is now speaking out about his ordeal, which happened in front of his fiancée and their two children.
“Basically we’re just sitting down enjoying the holidays trying to get some lunch with my family, and next thing you know, I’m in handcuffs,” Jamar Mackey told ABC News on Tuesday (Dec. 22). “No words, no explanations. How is it nothing’s changed? How is everything still the same how do you still racially profile a Black man with dreads that way in 2020?”
Mackey and his family were visiting the Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach’s on Dec. 19 when an officer approached him and without explanation, put him in handcuffs, only to say that he wanted to speak with him outside. Mackey was walked out of the mall while protesting that he was not the intended suspect.
A few minutes into the incident, police realized they had the wrong person and explained that they thought Mackey fit the description of someone who was suspected of using stolen credit cards. The incident was captured on camera by Mackey’s fiancée, but there was no bodycam footage.
Mackey’s attorney, Don Scott, told ABC News that the issue of racial profiling is one that is seen frequently in the area.
“Everybody in this region knows this is how you get treated, this is how Black males get treated in Virginia Beach,” said Scott. “So, this is what we hope to be able to change.”
Virginia Beach Police say that it was a case of mistaken identity. They issued an apology on Monday (Dec. 21).
“We apologize for the discomfort that was caused in this incident,” said Police Chief Paul Neudigate at a press conference. “As a result, we are focusing on two main areas: Was the initial approach and stop justified, and was the use of handcuffs justified?”
Police did arrest another suspect, Markee Smith, who was charged with four counts of credit card fraud, receiving stolen goods and probation violation, according to local station WVEC.
Besides calling the experience traumatic, Mackey said that he had a fear of the worst happening, something that has tragically happened to other Black men stopped by the police.
“Looking back at the video it hurts me, man, because what if they had shot me in front of my son or tased me in front of my son for no reason,” he said.