The Virginia Beach Police Department apologized after a video showing a Black man being wrongfully handcuffed in front of his family went viral.
Jamar Mackey was eating lunch at a table in Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach on Saturday, Dec. 19, when two police officers walked up and cuffed him. Shantel Covil, his fiancée, began recording the interaction shortly after Mackey was cuffed.
The couple repeatedly told the officers Mackey was innocent and asked why he was being detained. Their newborn and 13-year-old son were present during the interaction.
“We were sitting down, enjoying the holidays and having some lunch with my family,” he recalled to “Good Morning America” on Tuesday. “Next thing you know, I’m in handcuffs. No words, no explanation. How do you still racially profile a black man with dreads in 2020?”
The officers walked Mackey out of the food court and Covil followed with their children in tow. They were reportedly looking for a man suspected of credit card fraud and claimed Mackey fit the description of the suspect.
“Y’all f**king racist as f**k. We’re in here with our family,” Covil told the officers as they led Mackey away. “This is so f**king embarrassing. We are with our family, I got my baby here, a newborn. Why do y’all have him?”
The argument continued outside before Mackey was uncuffed and one of the officers told Covil why he was approached.
“We got a description of someone who was using stolen credit cards. That person is a Black male with dreads and was wearing all black and was with a boy who was wearing red,” he said.
Seconds later, Covil’s camera panned to show another set of cops speaking with another Black man with locs as a little boy in a red hoodie stood by. Mackey was still upset and accused the officers of “stereotyping” him.
“That’s what we’re fighting for now,” he shouted. “That’s how we get treated in 2020?!”
Covil took a name and number from one of the officers before the family left.
On Monday, Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate apologized and announced the interaction will be investigated.
“No one wants to be handcuffed in front of their family, in front of the public, like the officer did on Saturday,” he said during a news conference. “We apologize for the discomfort that was caused in this incident. As a result, we are focusing on two main areas: Was the initial approach and stop justified, and was the use of handcuffs justified?”
The couple told “Good Morning America” they were upset their 13-year-old son had to witness the altercation.
“It hurts me. What if they had shot me in front of my son, or tasered me in front of my son?” he asked.
“I don’t know if he’ll be afraid of the police now or if he will care for them because of what he saw,” Covil added.