Justice for J.A.

Parish: St. Martin

Police Department: St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office

My name is J.A. I am a  security guard and an avid baker, and on November 5th, 2020 I was held at gunpoint by police and was within an inch of losing my life, all for allegedly speeding. I have to travel three hours each way for work and works a twelve-hour shift. In total, I have eighteen hours per day devoted to work.

On the day of the incident, I was an hour into my three-hour drive home from work. I had just completed a twelve-hour shift, and simply wanted to get home and get some sleep to get ready for my next eighteen-hour workday. I was pulled over by an officer who immediately got out of his vehicle. Without asking who I was, what I was doing, or where I was going, the officer pointed his weapon at me. The officer began screaming, asking what is wrong with me? Eventually, the officer, while pointing his weapon at me, explained that he stopped me because I was allegedly going 110 MPHs and weaving in and out of traffic. However, this was not at all the case. I do not recall exactly how fast I was going, but I do recall other cars speeding past me. At this point I was in fear for my life cause at any second this officer could decide to pull the trigger. I recall being so terrified that I was shaking so violently that it looked as if I was having a seizure. I was eventually placed in handcuffs and placed in the police car. At this point, the officer finally stopped pointing his weapon at me.

I questioned the officer as to why he felt the need to point his weapon at me. The officer responded that “I did not know you,” insinuating that I was dangerous. At the time of the incident I had short hair, and I believe the officer mistook me for a man, which influenced the officer’s behavior on the scene. Two other officers arrive on the scene, these officers tried to explain to me that the officer did her a “favor” that he could get her fired. I could not believe what these officers were telling me, that this officer was within an inch of taking my life,  and he somehow “did me a favor.” what would it have taken for him to pull the trigger?

I eventually was allowed to call my supervisor, and I believe that he saved my life that day. My supervisor told me to calm down, not say anything to the officers, and to take the ticket and leave. He then spoke to one of the officers on scene who informed the officer who I was and that I was in fact a security guard. Eventually, the officer gave me a ticket and allowed me to leave that day with someone else driving the vehicle.

After the incident, I attempted to file a formal complaint with the police department. However, when I spoke to the police Captain, he informed me that the officer did not do anything wrong, and he in fact, he did me a favor. Again, this infuriated me because this officer could have taken my life. what would it have taken for him to pull the trigger? To have another officer inform me that his actions were not only justified, but somehow, he actually did me a favor?

When I think back to the day of the incident I am is infuriated. I was so close to being the next George Floyd, it would have only taken a second, and for what!  I decided to share my story because the actions of this officer were clearly wrong. I could have easily been killed by this officer for allegedly speeding, I was not violent, and I did nothing to warrant this escalation by police.

When asked what justice would mean to me,  I explained that first, I would want this officer off the police  force. because the officer’s actions were not justified. what happens the next time? I was lucky that I was able to walk away with my life. I fear what happens the next time. If the officer’s shoots and kills someone is it going to be “justified?” Additionally, police officers need better training and that officers need to stop stereotyping people. I believe that I was stopped because I am black and that the officer escalated the situation because he believed I was a man. police officers need to be able to do their job without automatically assuming.

Finally, I will leave off with a with one piece of advice for anyone in a similar situation. First, be as calm as possible, then call 911 so that you can have witnesses, and finally alert as many people as you can at that moment.

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