A Black family says they were racially profiled when a Missouri officer accused their 16-year-old son of shoplifting from a store in a St. Louis suburb on Monday.
LaTiffiany Carter was leaving an Academy Sports store on Manchester Road in St. Louis County when she was approached by an officer who suspected her 16-year-old son of shoplifting.
Carter filmed the encounter, during which the officer stated that he thought the teen was stealing because he noticed a bulge around his waist. The officer used his police cruiser to block the Carter’s vehicle in the parking lot of the Manchester, Missouri, store.
The bulge was really a fanny pack that contained no stolen items. The family told the officer they had a receipt that proved they had just spent almost $300 in the store, and say they were out celebrating their son’s birthday.
“I knew that when he started to call for backup that I knew then that it just felt like it was out of our control,” said LaTiffiany Carter. “The officer took it upon himself to single us out, out of everybody else on the parking lot.”
Academy Sports told station KMOV 4 it did not make a call to police expressing concerns about shoplifting. Instead, the officer approached the family on his own.
LaTiffiany Carter spoke to the station, calling the incident, “traumatizing,” adding that she feared for her family’s lives at the time.
The boy’s father, Marshall Carter, also spoke to the channel, saying, “The officer took it upon himself to question us, to single us out, out of everyone else in the parking lot.”
Chief Scott Will of the Manchester Police Department said the incident is currently being investigated and that he doesn’t approve of the officer’s actions. He could not share more about the incident because an internal investigation is underway. The body camera footage of the incident has not yet been released.
KMOV reported the Carter family said they may pursue legal action.