In July of this year, a Harris County Precinct 1 deputy approached 20-year-old Marlin Gipson to ask what Gipson was doing. The scene was captured on video. Gipson claimed to be handing out his business cards to residents in the neighborhood that advertised his lawn mowing business. The deputy approached Gipson and asked him for identification and his name and age. Gipson gave his name and claimed that his birthday was October of 1999, which would make him 17. Gipson did not provide ID.
Gipson asked the deputy for his name, but the deputy did not respond. The deputy then told Gipson he was under arrest and asked Gipson to put his hands behind his back. Gipson refused. A friend of Gipson approached and accused the officer of racial profiling because Gipson is African-American.
Gipson then ran to his home with officers in pursuit. The officers entered the home, where Gipson was hiding in the bathroom. The officers used a dog to get to Gipson and tasered him twice. A video captured the entire event and went viral on the internet, leading to widespread condemnation and accusations of police brutality.
Later Information Revealed
A video from Gipson’s family members suggest that someone at the home allowed the officers to enter the house. It is unclear why the police needed to use force when Gipson was cornered in a bathroom closet. The police say that they gave Gipson multiple warnings and asked him to come out, which he refused to do. Only then did they apply force.
Other information also raises questions. As mentioned, Gipson refused to show ID and lied about his birthday. Gipson is a business student at Brinn College and had an outstanding warrant for a class C misdemeanor. He also had a pending arrest in Washington County from 2015.
Gipson’s family has since filed a complaint and accused the deputy of racial profiling. A police spokesman responded that the police received a number of complaints about burglaries in the area. As such, according to the spokesman, the deputy did his job when he approached a man going from house to house in the neighborhood and did not single out Gipson because of his race.
Some claim that the police engaged in racial profiling, which is criminalized by the Texas Criminal Code. While there is no exact definition of racial profiling, it is generally defined as police targeting, searching, and arresting an individual because of that individual’s race. Racial profiling is often based on stereotypes that may have nothing to do with the reality, and is fundamentally unfair.
With that said, people who provide police with information about crimes often provide a description of the perpetrator by describing his or her race.
Are you a police officer accused of racial profiling? When this occurs, there is often media attention and bias against the police. Officers have rights. Contact the criminal defense firm of Christopher Abel, a board-certified criminal defense attorney who will fight for you.
(image courtesy of Matt Popovich)