John Felton was shocked to learn the real reason he was detained by a police officer during a traffic stop.
Looks like there’s another item that can be added to The Root’s ongoing list of things you can’t do while black: making direct, uninterrupted eye contact with a police officer.
The Root reports that an Ohio police officer admitted on camera that he stopped John Felton, a black man, “because you made direct eye contact with me, and you held on to it while I was passing you,” after initially claiming that he stopped Felton for failing to signal.
The story was brought to the attention of talk show host and Huffington Post blogger David Pakman, who wrote about the incident for the site.
“As suspicious as ‘making direct eye contact’ may be to a police officer, doing the exact opposite—that is, avoiding eye contact with a police officer—could be considered equally suspicious by an officer,” Pakman wrote. “In other words, both making eye contact and not making eye contact with police could, conceivably, be grounds for a traffic stop.”
The incident occurred sometime in July as Felton was driving to his mother’s house in Dayton. Felton notes that he began recording the video as soon as he saw the officer following him.
“He saw Michigan plates,” Felton says. “He just needed a reason. Why would you follow me every step of the way, every turn I make?”
In the video, the officer approaches Felton’s car and asks for both Felton’s and the passenger’s driver’s license. Felton asks why the passenger needs to provide identification, to which the officer claims he needs it in order to “identify who’s in the car.”
The officer claims that the stop is for falling to use a turn signal and later tells Felton he is letting him go with a warning.
“Like I said, it’s a violation if you don’t turn your turn signal on,” the officer says.
“You’ve been tailing me for how long? You just needed a reason to pull me over,” Felton replies. “No disrespect, I don’t have nothing against police officers, but all this s–t that’s going on now? That’s some scary s–t. To have a police officer just tail you, and then you pull me over, ’cause you said I didn’t signal—what? Do you know how it looks?”
Felton asks again why he was stopped, and the officer’s story changes.
“Because you made direct eye contact with me,” the officer says. “And you held on to it while I was passing you.”
A perplexed Felton claims that he didn’t see the officer before he began following him. The officer tells Felton he isn’t going to argue the point.
Felton tells the passenger, “This is bulls–t” as the officer walks back to his car.
See Pakman’s broadcast of the incident below.