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‘Can You Even Read?’: Video Depicts White Cop’s Testy Encounter With Black Baltimore Principal and His Son as They Watch an Arrest

Baltimore County police released a video Wednesday of a white cop questioning a Black principal in front of his 15-year-old son for walking past a crime scene.

Vance Benton, who’s been principal of Patterson High School for eight years, was walking on the street he lives on in Owings Mill when he saw police arresting a young man July 29, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Baltimore principal
Baltimore County police released body camera footage of an incident between Vance Benton and a Baltimore County officer. (Photo by

“You guys weren’t involved in that at all were you,” the cop can be heard asking Benton in the video. “You guys weren’t involved at all?”

“Why would you ask me that?” Benton responded.

“Because you’re standing here,” the cop replied.

“I can stand here. I’m a citizen. I pay taxes here,” Benton said. “So what’s the issue with me standing here? I just told you I’m educating my son on how to deal with police.”

“Well let me educate you, sir,” the cop responded.

He proceeded to explain that he was investigating a crime and in doing so, need to interview witnesses.

“Why would you ask me if I’m involved?” Benton asked. “Ask me if I’m a witness.”

At one point in the encounter, the officer told Benton, “You are hindering my investigation.”

A few seconds later he told Benton it is because of people like him “that people get away with crimes.”

At another point in the encounter, the officer asked Benton, “Can you even read?”

He then, started exaggerating the spelling of his last name — Price — and he later told Benton’s son, Taj, “Hopefully, you find a good role model. I wouldn’t listen to this dude.”

Benton told The Baltimore Sun that although he couldn’t be heard on video saying it, he told the officer that Taj listens to his father, and the cop responded:

“I will be seeing you again then.”

At the end of the three-minute conversation, Benton said he was going to walk home, and the officer responded, “You have a good night then. You need to keep walking. You are going to get locked up.”

Benton said he later told his son the officer is “acting an ass” but “he may not be an ass.”

The principal also filed a complaint against the officer, identified only by the last name Price in early August, according to The Baltimore Sun.

In the complaint, Benton reportedly said he was targeted because of his race.

“He saw me as the ‘n-word’ and not as a black man with his son,” Benton said. “He saw me as another opportunity to degrade someone, and he relished that opportunity to do it in front of my son.”

The police department concluded its investigation and is taking administrative action against the officer, police officials announced last week to the newspaper.

It’s unclear what that administrative action entails.

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