A black man in Texas says he was racially profiled by a white deputy as he was cutting lawns last week, claiming he was approached simply because he “fit the description” while going door-to-door with business cards.
A four-minute video of the June 18 encounter between Marlin Gipson, 21, and a deputy from Harris County Constable Precinct 1 has racked up more than 5 million views. It begins with Gipson explaining to an officer why he had been walking from house to house with his brother in a subdivision in North Harris County.
“Because I’m investigating what you’re doing,” the deputy replied when asked why he was stopped. “Whenever an officer asks you for your ID, you’re supposed to provide your ID.”
“I’m working,” Gipson said, as a lawnmower hums in the backyard.
“I don’t care what you’re doing,” the deputy replies.
Gipson then asked the deputy for his card or his name, prompting the deputy to pull out handcuffs and ask Gipson to turn around and put his hands behind his back.
“Hey, nope, hey look, this man’s trying to arrest me,” Gipson says. “It’s on camera. Hey, no, look, I asked him for a card … we going to court, sir. Thank you … I ain’t did nothing, you cannot put me in handcuffs, sir. Put them back in your pocket … We cutting grass, sir. You harassing us.”
Calls seeking comment from Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen were not immediately returned Friday. But Rosen told Chron.com that Gipson’s family has filed a complaint with his office and claimed Gispon had not been truthful about the interaction.
“I think anytime you turn something you claim is racially motivated, that sensationalizes things,” Rosen told reporters during a press conference Wednesday.
Rosen, who played a clip from dashcam footage taken from the deputy’s car, denied that race played a role in the interaction and said his deputies acted accordingly, including during Gispon’s arrest later that day, KTRK reports.
“We have one of the most diverse offices in Harris County,” Rosen said. “It really incenses me that somebody says they were targeted because of their race. I love our minority community, I work hard to gain trust of our minority community.”
The deputy and a K-9 unit later responded to a home and located Gipson, who was Tasered and attacked by the police dog after not complying to at least 10 orders to surrender, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Gipson was arrested and charged with evading arrest and failure to identify himself, according to the newspaper. He’s also a fugitive on a previous assault charge and has two pending cases in nearby Washington County for resisting arrest and giving false information to police, Rosen said.
Gipson’s Philadelphia-based attorney, Lee Merritt, said he his client’s civil rights may have been violated during his arrest.
“His right arm was being mauled by a K9 unit,” Merritt told KTRK. “While he was being mauled by a K9 unit, he was shot a second time with a Taser, then placed in handcuffs all the while being fully compliant. That’s excessive force under any circumstances.”
Meanwhile, an online fundraiser for Gipson has surpassed $20,000. Gipson claims the damage to his reputation and his business cannot be fixed.
“My brothers and I believe we can turn this negative into a positive despite it all,” the fundraiser reads. “We want to grow and expand our business and teach others about opportunities in entrepreneurship over selling drugs. We want to speak out against injustice and police brutality. We want to be sure the officers involved here are held accountable.”