A police detective in Illinois has faced disciplinary action this week, after he was recorded on video telling a teenager he was being detained because he’s white.
Footage of the controversial encounter surfaced on Facebook on Monday, and has since gone viral with more than 85,000 views.
Dezi Baczek,18, who recorded the video, was among a group of teens who went to the local pawnshop in Lake Villa, a suburb of Chicago, to sell an ‘item’ so the group could buy her brother a book that he wanted to read…How thoughtful…
When the group of millennials exited the shop, they found Detective Gomez waiting out in the parking lot for them. Immediately, the group of teens were ordered to sit down or face being arrested.
Baczek told NBC 5, “I was yelled at to sit down”.
When asked ‘what for?.. That is when she started filming.
Police said the detective was conducting a theft investigation at the time and was questioning the group of teens. One unseen teen in the video questions why he’s being detained— he asked Gomez, “Is it because I’m a teenager? Because I have baggy pants on?”
Detective Gomez was seen storming off, then spun around and yelled back, ”because you’re white."
In response to the incident, Lake Villa Police Chief Craig Somerville said such behavior will not be tolerated, said the Daily Herald.
“We are a professional department with high standards and we value our relationship with the public, particularly our youth,” Somerville said in a statement.
“Our relationships are built upon mutual understanding and trust and this type of behavior contradicts that.”
Somerville said Gomez became suspicious of the group when they were accompanied by the suspect of a theft investigation at the pawn shop and another member gave officers a fake name. That person was charged with obstructing police.
The chief did not directly acknowledge what was said in the video, but he did note it as inappropriate and unprofessional.
Somerville said in a statement, “Gomez admitted his words were poorly chosen and insensitive and he immediately regretted what he had said. The Lake Villa Police Department does not condone this type of behavior of its officers.Gomez has been disciplined for behavior unbecoming an officer. He will be assisting me with speaking to the parents and teens involved in this incident.”