When Stacey Harvey-Slocum saw an Elk Grove police officer having a heated conversation with her son moments after he allegedly ran through a stop sign near their home, she noticed the female cop was wearing a facemask with a “Blues Lives Matter” flag on it.
With all the deadly encounters involving Black men and women across the country, Ms. Harvey-Slocum, as she relayed to the female police officer, said she was determined to not let her son, 19-year-old Tobias Eagle, become “the next hashtag.”
Ms. Harvey-Slocum captured more than 22 minutes from the incident on video with the use of her cell phone. As of Sept. 22, the video had more than 7.5 million views and 184,000 comments and counting on Facebook. The encounter took place on Sunday, Sept. 13 after Eagle drove into his parents’ driveway when he realized that an Elk Grove patrol car was behind him.
Social justice activist Sonia Lewis, operating as Eagle’s family’s spokesperson said in a written statement: “In a matter of seconds, (Eagle) parked and was met by his mother, who came outside after hearing a loud commotion outside of her home.”
“Tobias’ mother Stacey Harvey-Slocum attempted to be proactive when she realized her son was the subject of (the officers’) verbal orders over the cruiser’s intercom system. Tobias and Stacey stood on the sidewalk in front of their family home, next to the vehicle he was driving. No attempts to flee or evade, standing prepared with license, registration and insurance in hand. They awaited Officer Johnson’s next move and were completely oblivious to (officer’s) orders over the intercom system,” Lewis wrote.
Lewis revealed the Elk Grove officer’s name as Misty Johnson. Ms. Harvey-Slocum was facilitating Eagle’s interaction with the officer while live-streaming it on Facebook Live. The family said the Sacramento State University student has not had any experience with law enforcement.
Ms. Harvey-Slocum said she instructed her son to give his driver’s license, registration and insurance to Johnson, who was wearing a Blue Lives Matter mask. The officer told Eagle he had run through a stop sign and questioned whether he was on probation or parole. He told her he was not on probation but that was not good enough for her, the family said.
Ms. Harvey-Slocum said the officer did not bother to run Eagle’s name into the system or issue him a ticket. The mother in the video repeatedly requested that the officer give her son a ticket and be on her way.
“You will not be the judge, the executioner on this property right here,” Ms. Harvey-Slocum said to Johnson in the Facebook video.
In the video, Johnson is talking to Harvey-Slocum while she has one hand on the holster on her waist. Officer Johnson also called for backup and two other patrol vehicles pulled up while the video was still live-streaming.
Ms. Harvey-Slocum believes Johnson called for backup before Eagle departed from his car.
The Elk Grove Police Department released a dash cam video showing Eagles’ traffic violation. But what was worrisome to him and Ms. Harvey-Slocum were Johnson’s Blue Lives Matter facemask, tattoos and her hand on her weapon as she calmly interacted with the family.
The Elk Grove Police Department, which is asking for an outside agency to conduct an investigation, released the following statement:
“On the evening of Sunday, September 13, the Elk Grove Police Department was made aware of a traffic stop involving one of our officers that was captured on video and was circulating on social media.
As is our practice to be transparent, Chief (Timothy) Albright has solicited an outside entity to conduct an independent investigation into the incident and to provide an impartial and independent review.
After becoming aware of the video posted to social media, we reached out to the family. Chief Albright began a dialogue with family members and invited those family members to meet in person. Along with Chief Albright and Assistant Chief (R.L.) Davis, the officer involved in the traffic stop volunteered to meet with the family and be a part of the process. Chief Albright also invited a member of the Chief’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) to take part in the discussion. We remain willing to be part of the discussion.
One of the issues that arose from several viewers of the video was the unauthorized cloth face covering worn by the officer during this interaction.
Recognizing that one of our core responsibilities is to project neutrality and pay deference to others’ perspectives; in this instance we fell short of that responsibility.
The Elk Grove Police Department provided guidance on April 8, 2020 on the type of cloth face coverings expected to be worn by our staff. Following the above event, Chief Albright issued an administrative directive to staff.
The Elk Grove Police Department remains committed to transparency and policing that reflects our Mission, Vision, and Values.”
Betty Williams,the president of the local Sacramento Branch of the National Association for the Advancement Of Colored People (NAACP), asked for a third-party investigation, she told The OBSERVER. The local NAACP is also considering its next step to rectify the situation.
“The Sac NAACP Branch reached out to the Chief of Police and demanded an independent investigation, which was agreed. We also reached out to the family, and they spoke with the Chief. However, we have referred this issue to our Legal Redress, that will meet with the family,” Ms. Williams said “How do you embrace criminal injustice while wearing a Blue Lives Matter mask, while approaching a Black man for a traffic stop and calling back up at the same time?”
Another video surfaced on Facebook of a traffic stop in the same area Eagle was alleged to commit a violation. The officer in the video is Johnson interacting with a non-Black person who was pulled over for the same violation.
The motorist, a male, had a different experience with Johnson, who didn’t appear threatened, not wearing the Blue Lives Matter facemask, and not once put her hand on her weapon while talking to the driver.
“I assume that you’re not on probation,” she said to the motorist.
“When I got pulled over, she was super nice. I didn’t feel afraid or in any sort of harm whatsoever,” Mohamed Esmail, the motorist in the video, told a local television station of his encounter with Johnson.
Lewis, speaking on behalf of Eagle and Ms. Harvey-Slocum, stated that the Elk Grove police officer racially profiled the young man when she could have handled the situation better.
“Officer Johnson missed a huge opportunity, in what could have been a teachable moment for Tobias, as this was his first interaction with the police. She could have also eased his mother’s concerns, as she was obviously trying to help Tobias navigate this first-time experience,” Ms. Lewis stated.
“Officer Johnson could have approached Tobias and Stacey and simply said, ‘You may have been confused about who I was ordering to pull over on the intercom system, but if you are ever pulled over in the future, please breath and listen to the officer’s commands. You exiting your vehicle is a safety issue for you and me,’” Ms. Lewis explained, in her opinion, of how the situation could have been handled.
By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer