In the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police, former deputy athletic director for external affairs at Northeastern, Tim Duncan, posted a video Monday on Twitter detailing an incident of profiling by police not far from his home in Newton.
Duncan, who left Northeastern last year to become athletic director at the University of New Orleans but still has a home in Newton, said he was on a walk with his wife heading to the store when four police cars and six officers stopped him, weapons drawn, saying he fit the profile of a suspected murderer.
The incident occurred May 20, five days before Floyd was killed, but Duncan said, in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, he felt compelled to tell his story.
“I wanted to take some time to think about that,” he said. “I wanted to take some time to speak to our student-athletes before making a statement. I know that it’s been over a week now since the murder has occurred and I haven’t said anything publicly and I wanted to take some time to think about that.
“I’m disappointed in myself over the last few years in my life because I had begun to normalize these situations. I remember the talk that my mom and dad had given me about race and police from the time that I was a child.”
Along with the video post, Duncan spoke with students at the University of New Orleans and posted a message that he was “outraged and angry” as the country’s longstanding issues around race continue to manifest.
“It’s not OK that just because I’m a tall Black man walking one block from his house, that I’m pulled over and say that I fit a profile of a murder suspect just because he was tall,” he said. “I understand that the police have to do their job, trust me, I do. But to roll down on me with guns drawn when I’m walking on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon with my wife is uncalled for.
“And it’s uncalled for that George Floyd had a knee on his neck for eight minutes and, I think, 46 seconds. It’s uncalled for that Ahmaud Arbery was running through a neighborhood — I’m a runner. I run through neighborhoods all the time — and someone hunted him down and killed him. This stuff has happened way too much. I’m pissed. I’m outraged.”
The Newton Police Department issued the following statement:
“On May 18, 2020, Newton police began surveillance on an address in Newton after a report from the Boston Police Department that a suspect in a fatal shooting may have a tie to a person living there. While staking out the home and the vicinity, Newton police saw a suspect who fit the physical description of the murder suspect.
“At 5:49 p.m., on May 20, 2020, Newton police approached Tim Duncan as he walked near the address under surveillance. They asked for his identification. He told Police he did not feel safe putting his hands down to get his wallet, so a Newton police officer got his wallet, checked his identification, and verified that Mr. Duncan was not the suspect wanted for murder. The Newton police report indicates that Mr. Duncan continued on his way at 5:52 p.m.
“The following day, May 21, the suspect in the Boston fatal shooting was taken into custody on a warrant by the Boston police as he exited the address in Newton.”
Newton Police Department public information officer Bruce Apotheker said Duncan could file a grievance with the department and added he would be willing to speak with Duncan.
“To me, there’s nothing more important in this world than someone’s civil rights, dignity and human rights and for someone to feel that any of those have been violated, to me that’s a horrible experience,” Apotheker said. “Nobody should go through that.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.