ENGLAND, Arkansas — An Arkansas police officer has been fired after telling a group of African-American men that “you don’t belong in my city.”
The July 21 encounter with England Police Officer Mike Moore was captured on video by one of the men, Demarcus Bunch, and posted on Facebook on Tuesday.
Bunch, 28, said he and a group of his friends met up in England — a small city about 30 miles southeast of Little Rock — to shoot a rap video in the neighborhood where he grew up. He said the officer watched them as they got together and then followed as they drove through town.
Bunch has an uncle who also is an England Police officer, so he said he and his cousin flagged Moore down so they could introduce themselves.
“The reason I walked up (to him) recording is I could kind of feel — I had a gut feeling — that there was going to be a bad vibe from the way he followed us everywhere we went,” Bunch told CNN.
CNN has attempted to contact Moore but was unsuccessful. England Chief of Police Danna Powell confirmed in a one-sentence news release that Moore was fired on Wednesday.
What happens in the video
In the video, Moore shakes the young men’s hands and tells them his name. Bunch and his cousin tell Moore about their uncle and explain that they are shooting a video.
Bunch then says they noticed the officer was following them.
“You know why?” Moore replies. “Because you don’t belong in my city.”
“We’re from here,” Bunch replies.
“But you understand, I know who my people are, right? Who belongs here and who doesn’t?” Moore says. “We’ve got gang wars going on, we’ve got all kinds of stuff. I come from the big city where this stuff is small, okay? So, that’s cool. Do your thing.”
“You said we don’t belong in your city, though?” Bunch asks.
“Can I say something? OK … I have never seen you here before, and I know almost everybody here,” Moore says.
Bunch then points out his address in the neighborhood and tells Moore that he had attended England High School.
“Well good for you, my name is Mike Moore, OK. I’m not from here,” Moore says. Then he asks the men to step away from his car because he is going to let his police dog out.
Fallout from the incident
Bunch told CNN he was shocked and felt disrespected by the encounter.
“If you look at the news every other day it’s racial profiling, stereotyping and senseless killings for young black men. And had I not been recording and he didn’t have his camera, who’s to say what would have happened,” he said.
England has less than 3,000 residents and Bunch said most people do know each other there. He dismissed talk of gang wars in the town.
“That’s stereotyping. It’s probably based on the vehicles we were in, maybe how we were dressed,” he said.
Bunch said he showed the video to his uncle and other family members and filed a complaint with the police chief. He says that a lieutenant called him to get more information, but days went by and he didn’t hear anything else about the investigation.
He decided to post the video on Facebook on Tuesday because he hadn’t gotten a copy of his complaint.
Moore was fired the next day.
The president of the Arkansas Fraternal Order of Police said they don’t have a chapter in England and he wasn’t aware of the incident. The Southern States Police Benevolent Association, which includes Arkansas, would not comment on the case.
The England Police Department did not give any more information about Moore, but CNN affiliate KATV reports that he was fired from the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department in May 2017. Sheriff John Staley told KATV that Moore was a deputy for 10 months and was fired for his negative attitude.
Moore had also been a law enforcement officer in South Carolina.
Bunch said police have never bothered him in England before and he’s never had any trouble with the law. He said he and his friends never even got cameras out for their video.
“We were going to start on our video (after Moore left), but our videographer wasn’t comfortable being down there,” Bunch said.