MPD refutes claims of racial profiling on attorney, backed by body cam

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis attorney claimed he was racially profiled during a traffic stop and a Memphis police officer put his hand on his gun and yelled at him.

WMC Action News 5 was given a look at the police body camera footage of the traffic stop where JP Smiley said he was racially profiled.

Smiley said he was pulled over for speeding. He said he gave the officer his gun carry permit and his driver's license.

But, when he went to reach for his reading glasses, he said the officer put his hand on his gun and said, "Don't reach for it."

Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings said the officer did what he was trained to do.

"From my perspective, the officer did his job," Rallings said.

During an attempt to be as transparent as possible, Rallings invited WMC to a meeting he planned with Smiley. MPD showed us never before seen body camera video after the story aired Friday.

The video shows the officer calmly telling Smiley not to reach for his gun after Smiley gave him the gun permit. But, Smiley said his feeling of fear still hasn't changed.

"Just because you look a certain way, you shouldn't be expected to reach for something," Smiley said.

The video shows where the officer told Smiley not to reach for his gun.

Officer: "You got your gun on you?"
Smiley: "Yes sir."
Officer: "Don't reach for it."
Smiley: "I'm not going to reach for it."
Officer: "I'm just saying don't reach for it man. Normal thing I say."
Smiley: "I'm not going to reach for it."
Officer: "But you went like that. I don't know what you're doing."

But Rallings said it didn't appear the officer was going to pull his gun on the attorney.

"There's nothing to think he would draw his gun," Rallings said.

Rallings said based on the body camera footage it is impossible for the officer to have reached for his gun. He said it's not unusual to ask a gun carry permit holder not to reach for their gun. Rallings said this is one big example of the importance of body camera video.

"Here's the situation where there may have been a complaint, went back and looked at the body cam footage and there's nothing here," Rallings said.

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