Four young Black men are believed to have been racially profiled after they were stopped and handcuffed by police near Virginia University of Lynchburg on Tuesday.
A video of the traffic stop by Lynchburg Police on Tuesday made its rounds on social media, sparking concern. As reported by local station WSET, the students said officers had their guns drawn after pulling them over for a broken tail light.
“It was kind alarming to watch, just to see that,” the students’ football coach Bobby Rome told the station. “I seen the police officer approach. He asked everyone to put their hands on the dash and immediately he had his hand on his waist.”
The coach said the students were headed back to campus from an early workout when they were stopped by officers. In a video posted to Facebook, all four young men are seated on the sidewalk in handcuffs as police question them.
“Did anybody explain to you guys what’s going on?” one of the officers asks.
“No,” one student replies, “but I knew he pulled a gun on us for a traffic stop.”
One of the cops claimed he smelled marijuana, but a search of the students’ car didn’t turn up evidence of such.
“The reason I reached for my gun is because I smelled marijuana,” the officer says in the clip. “The supreme court says guns and drugs go together.”
The students managed to walk away unharmed but were ticketed for the busted tail light. VUL staff are now criticizing the police, saying the incident could’ve easily had a dangerous ending.
“Those are my kids on the side walk,” Rome told WSET. “They’re not criminals, gangsters, they’re not drug dealers. They’re not murderers. They’re here to get an education.”
“Police officers are human also just like this young man on the sidewalk is human,” he added. “Things could go the opposite direction. Whether that’s him going to jail or being arrested, either one of things are detrimental to a young man.”
The Lynchburg Police Department has not identified any of the officers involved, but said they’re investigating the matter. University leaders also plan to meet with authorities this week and are hoping to host a community discussion to prevent something from happening again.