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Black Homeowner Questioned, Handcuffed by Police While Moving TV Into New Home

Moving Day Ends with Black Homeowner Being Handcuffed by Kansas Police

A 61-year-old retired military vet found himself in police handcuffs during an early morning move into his new home in Tonganoxie, Kansas, last week.

Karle Robinson recalled the moment the police car’s headlights illuminated his driveway as he struggled to haul a large-screen TV into the home around 2:30 a.m. In a interview with the Kansas City Star, Robinson said his moving project had turned into a 12-hour marathon and that the bulky TV was one of the last items he had to take inside.

“I could use a hand with this,” Robinson recalled telling the officer, who approached him with a flashlight.

Karle Robinson

Karle Robinson, 61, filed a complaint with the Tanganoxie Police Department after he was handcuffed in front of his home. (Photo by Tammy Ljungblad)

Instead of lending a helping hand, however, the officer instructed Robinson to “place your hands on the side of the house.” He’d spend the next eight minutes handcuffed in front of his home, being treated like a burglary suspect as police worked to confirm his story.

Robinson said he explained to police he was a new homeowner and was moving in, adding that he had identification and paperwork proving he was the purchaser of the home inside. He offered to show the officer his documents but instead found himself detained.

“I need you to put your hands on the side of the house …” the cop says in body cam video from the incident. “Place your hands on top of your head for me.”

The officer then draws the man’s hands down one by one, placing them behind his back before slapping on a pair of cuffs.

Robinson said he understood why the officer may have been a bit suspicious during their Aug. 19 encounter, given the time of day and the fact that he was carrying a large TV. Still, the military vet took issue with being handcuffed in front of his own home and feels things would’ve gone much differently if he were a different race.

“If I’d been a white man, you know that wouldn’t happen,” Robinson told the newspaper as he watched the video. “I’m being handcuffed right here on my own damn property.”

Tonganoxie Police Chief Greg Lawson has defended the officer’s actions, arguing the cop was trying to maintain a balance of courtesy and respect while also keeping himself and Robinson safe. The officer, who was by himself, only used the handcuffs up until he could verify Robinson’s story.

“If I were on that call, by myself, no matter the race of the person, they would have been handcuffed,” Lawson said.

In video from the incident, Robinson calmly asks, “Is all of this necessary?” The officer, keeping a friendly tone, explained his suspicions, noting that Robinson was out there at “three in the morning” and that there’d been a lot of break-ins in the area lately.

Robinson wasn’t buying it, however.

“That’s a lie,” Robinson told the Star, noting that he’d spoken to several of his neighbors  who knew of no problems with recent break-ins in the suburban Kansas City, Kansas, community.

“They’re thinking I’m stealing,” he added. “I’ve been hearing this for 40 years — getting pulled over, being searched. I’m not going to let this go.”

Robinson didn’t argue at the time but later filed a complaint with the department and met with the police chief. While he loves his new community and that his neighbors are friendly, Robinson said his encounter proves racism is still alive and well.

“Anyone who thinks we’re in a post-racial world should refer to that,” he said referencing video of his detainment.

In the end, officers helped the man move his TV into his home.

Watch more in the clip below.

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