GULFPORT, Miss. — An African-American man says Mississippi police officers swarmed his family’s car and pointed guns at him, his wife and four children after a neighbor mistook them for burglars.
Kelvin Fairley and his family live in California but were in Gulfport, Mississippi, to check on a house they are having renovated, WLOX-TV reported. He said someone called police when his family was at the house Sunday, mistakenly believing a break-in had occurred.
After the family left, they were pulled over in traffic. Fairley told the Sun Herald that the responding officers wouldn’t tell him why he was stopped. He said officers put him and his wife, Natasha Krikorian, in handcuffs and held the family at gunpoint. A 12-year-old nephew and Fairley’s three children — sons who are 12 and 16 and a daughter who’s 9 — were in the car.
“I totally think they racially profiled me,” Fairley told the newspaper. “They never would even tell me why they stopped me. From the moment they pulled us over, there were six to seven police cars. They immediately had their guns drawn.”
The Gulfport Police Department issued a written statement Monday, saying the allegation of officer misconduct is under investigation.
“While no formal written complaint has been filed, we take any such allegation seriously,” the police statement said.
A call to the police department from The Associated Press was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Fairley, who is a registered nurse, and Krikorian, who is a psychologist, later went to the Gulfport Police Department to report how officers had treated them. A video shot by Fairley’s sister, who went to the police station with them, showed that when Fairley told a white officer what had happened, the officer replied: “Obviously, you don’t understand our business.” The officer said police have to use caution when approaching possible suspects. After a short exchange, the officer told Fairley to file a written complaint.
Fairley told the TV station that the children were terrified by the traffic stop.
“I’m watching my 9-year-old daughter bawling her eyes out, saying she wanted her daddy,” he said.