The Slatest

Colorado Police Officer Under Investigation After Questioning Black Student Picking Up Trash Outside His Home

In a blurry screengrab from the video, the man can be seen from behind. Two officers across the street face the camera. One of them has his hand at his hip.
Vanardo Merchant/Facebook

The police department in Boulder, Colorado, is investigating one of its officers after a video circulated on social media showing the officer interrogating a black man holding a bucket and a trash picker outside his home.

The encounter, which occurred on March 1, did not lead to an arrest. But the man taking the video of the incident can be heard complaining that the officer had his hand on his gun. The officer who confronted the man was later placed on paid administrative leave, the Daily Camera reported Wednesday.

According to the police statement, the officer, who has not been named, decided to question the black man when he saw him behind a private property sign and wondered if he was allowed to be on the property. According to the Daily Camera, the man was a student at Naropa University in Boulder, and the building on the property is listed as a school residence. The man showed the officer his school identification card and told him he worked and lived at the building.

According to the police statement:

The officer detained the man to investigate further and made a request over the radio for additional assistance to respond indicating that the person was uncooperative and unwilling to put down a blunt object. Several officers responded including a supervisor. The object the man was holding was used to pick up trash.

In the video, the man can be heard getting frustrated with the police and explaining that he was picking up trash from his porch. An officer can later be heard telling the man to put the “object” down.

The man also raised issue with the officer’s gun. “You’re on my property with a gun in your hand threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash?” he says at one point. At another point, he repeatedly says, “He’s got a gun.” The video shows one officer holding a gun for a period before putting it away. The police chief later confirmed that the officer had drawn his gun but said he pointed it at the ground. According to the Daily Camera, other officers were armed with shotguns.

According to the police statement, the officers “ultimately determined that the man had a legal right to be on the property” and left.