African-American family detained by police still waiting for answers

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Members of an African-American family who were mistaken for suspects by the Albemarle County Police Department last month say they still aren't satisfied with the police explanation of what happened.

The incident occurred on March 20 in the Granite Park apartment complex. Keith Groomes, owner of The Pie Guy food truck, was sitting in his parked car with his girlfriend and her mother when he says police suddenly approached the car with guns drawn and ordered the trio to get out.

"They laid us out, locked us up, put the cuffs on us," he said.

Police let them go when they realized they weren't the suspects in a firearm incident that had been reported nearby.

Groomes, his girlfriend, and her mother filed a formal complaint about the incident with police the next day, but they still haven't gotten answers. Groomes isn't happy about that.

"Not to follow up a little quicker, you could do that,” he said of police. “It's been over a month. You were in the wrong. Just admit your faults. It's okay."

CBS19 also tried to get body cam and dash cam video through a Freedom of Information Act request, but that request was denied. Police dash cam video is being withheld as part of an ongoing investigation, the police response explained. And Albemarle officers don't wear body cams, so there is no body cam video of the actual encounter.

Albemarle County Police Deputy Chief Greg Jenkins declined to comment on the Granite Park incident because an internal investigation is still underway, but he explained that Albemarle officers don't wear body cams because of the expense.

"We're talking about $100,000 a year, over $100,000, just to store the data," he said.

Jenkins said it would put an added strain on prosecutors who would have to review all the video body cameras would produce. And handling requests from the public would also be expensive.

"We're talking about a full-time person just to be able to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests," Jenkins said.

Groomes isn't buying that.

"Albemarle County we all know is one of the wealthiest counties in America, probably in the top 20, and that's me being fair,” Groomes said. “Y'all can afford body cams."

Jenkins also says the decision not to equip officers with body cameras was made after a town hall meeting on the topic in 2015. He said dash cam video system records officers conversations and sounds outside the vehicle in addition to the visual recording.

"The community members felt that the system we have in place today met their expectations," he said.

But Groomes says he knows plenty of minority community members who feel otherwise.

"For sure,” he said.“Especially the ones that are continuously being pulled and stopped."

Part two of this story airs Wednesday at 6 p.m.



 
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