A trip to the T-Mobile store proved near-deadly for two Black men who found themselves held at gunpoint by police after someone dialed 911 to report a burglary.
Dorian Johnson, 26, and his uncle Vincent Lemar were dropped off at a T-Mobile store last Monday, as Johnson was looking to buy the latest iPhone, according to the Fresno Bee. Things quickly went left, however, as Johnson was being ordered by Fresno police to crawl out of the store on his stomach just moments later.
The shocking ordeal was captured by Lemar, who filmed as his nephew obeyed officers’ commands and slowly inched toward them using only his fingers as he lay face-down on the sidewalk. At least one of the cops has his gun pointed at the young man. Meanwhile, Johnson’s girlfriend is heard screaming in horror in the background.
“All I saw was guns pointed at my babies’ daddy, and he was on the ground. I didn’t know if they had already shot him,” Gloria Bush, 23, told the newspaper. “I said, ‘Tell me what’s going on. I know he’s a good man. I know he wasn’t here with bad intentions.”
Bush said she had just dropped the men off at the store and left to buy some donuts and chocolate milk for the couple’s children. She said she was shocked by what she saw when she returned.
In the video, Johnson is heard yelling at Bush from the ground, imploring her to calm down and let the police “do what they gotta do.” The video goes dark after cops order Lemar out of the store with his hands up, but the audio keeps rolling.
One of the officers is heard asking Johnson if he has a gun, to which he replies, “no.”
“What are you guys doing in there?” the officer then asked.
“Just trying to get a new phone,” Lemar responds.
After detaining and handcuffing the men, officers explained that they received a call from the shopping center’s security company about a potential burglary in process at the store. Lemar and Johnson, who was headed to work at the nearby Foster Farms processing plant, insisted they weren’t there to rob anyone and did not have any weapons. They were eventually let go after police determined the report was false.
Still, the men concluded there could only be one reason for the 911 call: their race.
“I don’t see what made them call and what would have given them the suspicion that they were going to get robbed. We weren’t up to anything,” Johnson said. “It’s just crazy. I don’t understand. Nobody not once came and apologized for what happened.”
Johnson noted the frightening incident happened the day before his 3-year-old daughter’s birthday, and all he could think about were high profile incidents of unarmed Black men being gunned down by police.
“I was just watching videos about that stuff the other day,” he told The Fresno Bee through tears. “To be in the same situation myself, it just scared the sh-t out of me … Every time I think about it I get teary-eyed.”
In a Facebook post, Lemar described the incident as “prejudice in its precipice.” The men acknowledged that one of the T-Mobile employees was Black but still believe they were racially profiled.
The company released a statement following the incident:
“The safety and comfort of our customers, our TPR dealers and their employees is paramount to us. We are taking this incident very seriously and are actively investigating to determine exactly what occurred. Though we have found no evidence that the employees acted improperly, we would take definitive action if we did.”