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RACIAL CLAIM: Teen Says Police Harassed Him

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A Des Moines teen, who has never been in trouble with the law, says he was picked up and harassed by police because of the color of his skin.

"I always wanted to be a police officer. Me and my brother we used to talk about it all the time," explains Roman Miner. "But then after this, I don't know."

Miner is an A-student, an athlete and very involved with his church.

In fact, the 16-year-old says he was walking home from church Saturday afternoon when he was stopped and harassed by Des Moines police.

He says the officers searched him, made him get in the back seat of their patrol car and refused to let him call his mother. He says they then dropped him off a few blocks from his home.

"He said 'You're Derek, aren't you?' and I'm like 'no.' And he's like 'put your hands behind your back and spread your feet,'" Miner recalls. "That's when he searched between my legs and all this other stuff."

Miner's mother is angry, and says what's even more disturbing is that the officers didn't even bring her son all the way home and explain what happened.

"I feel like he was picked out to be picked on. And they just saw a young, African-American child walking down the street," says April Latimore. "He was coming from church and you stop him for no apparent reason."

A police spokesman says officers can detain and search someone if that person matches the description of someone they are looking for. Miner’s mother says she tried to file a complaint, but was told by a police sergeant she couldn’t.

The Revival Center Church, where Miner and his family are parishioners, is hosting a forum to discuss what information teens should give police if they're stopped. That forum is on Sunday February 9th at 6:00 p.m. at the church on 3816 36th Street in Des Moines.


  • Mackenzie Steveson

    a few months ago i was stopped by 2 supposed Des Moines police officers on SE 14. they asked me to step out of the car, and so i did. i was REPEATEDLY asked if i was high and how many drinks i had had that night. i hadn’t drank at all that night, or ever in fact. but the continued to ask me.
    i was then subjected to 3 different “sobriety tests” and they searched my car. one officer found a plastic bag in my car that had had cheerios in it the morning before. i was asked what “substance” was in that bag. after telling them, they didn’t seem to believe me.
    after all of this, they told me i could go.
    they had not even told me WHY i was pulled over in the first place!
    i had to ask them why.
    ..a light above my back license plate was out..
    i called into the police station the next day with the description of the 2 men and told them the time/place.
    APPARENTLY there wasn’t even video or any documentation that i had been stopped, and nothing was done.

    after a young mother was harassed by Des Moines police on SE 14 only a few weeks before myself, and now THIS story, i think that someone needs to take a VERY serious look into some of our officers…

    • MJC

      Did u here the whole story? He was put in the cop car not just frisked and dropped off a few blocks away from his home. Hello!!! they wouldn’t do that to a white boy.

      • Scott

        Gonna have to call BS on ya there MJC. Happened to two of my buddies in High School and they were both white. I’m not saying this was at all right and those cops SHOULD be disciplined. But from my experience, it’s not as much about race as you might want to believe. It’s about some bad officers not following proper procedure.

      • Deb

        Hell no they wouldn’t, they’d make us walk the whole way home. The same thing happened to my white daughter &I they didn’t give her a ride anywhere.

      • MJC

        O ok Scott whether black or white it was wrong and lets take a poll of how many whites over blacks. Racism is very much alive and we have to put an end to it. Nobody was in that boys shoes that day. If it is a case of racism or not he is a human being and should be treated as such.

  • MJC

    How about if the name fits and not the description. Some officers are on some kind of power trip and have nothing better to do. If my son ever got stopped for just walking home from church and a cop thought he fit the description, but it wasn’t the boy they were looking for, you best believe that cop better be prepared for what comes next. You are messing with my flesh and blood. That makes me so mad I thought we were past this kind of stuff it is 2014, right? Justice for this young man and his family.

  • Teriqua Jones

    These things did not occur in Iowa 10 years ago. I really believe Obama has changed the mindset to match his home; Chicago. Children should not be treated this way. This young man seems sincerely hurt by the event.
    I’ve spent time in Chicago and sure don’t want that hate to spread acrost the country.

  • Jake Moretti

    This kind stuff happens everyday to people of all races and nationalitys. So come on its 2014 lets quit using the race card’ Its getting old!!!

    • KN Black

      Happens in New York too. A Federal Judge ruled this was unconstitutional and the new Mayor has ended stop and frisk. NYC had a lot of law suits on this same issue.

  • george

    When I was his age, as a white male, 15 years ago I got frisked a few times. The DMPD has a job to do and this must be a slow news day. I don’t know why this is a story; youths get frisked all the time.

  • Josh Bethune

    I hope the crooked cops that did this are fired. More bullies behind the badge I see. I am sure it will be swept under the rug just like the one that beat up the African couple at a traffic stop. Wonder if he got his badge back yet?

  • RoccoG

    This kid has a record.
    He’s no saint.
    These people are always up to no good.
    No matter how many of them claim to be “singers in da church choir”

    • ChildOfGod

      RoccoG, I am not sure where you received your information, but I know this kid personally!!!! He is a member of my church. HE HAS NEVER BEEN IN TROUBLE OF ANY KIND!!!! We are talking about a VER BRIGHT young man who had a 4.0 and was a star on the VALLEY BASKETBALL TEAM before he switch schools and moved to the Roosevelt school district at the end of the semester. They were unable to transfer all his credits and he somehow still managed to get a 3.3 GPA. He is the sound technician at our church, he is apart of the mime ministry as well as the youth choir. He is also on the sophomore basketball team for his school and apart of the Gospel choir there as well. This young man LOVES THE LORD and he LOVES his church!!!! He is very active in the youth department at our church and he is also a part of the cleaning committee and dedicates his free time 4 days a week to cleaning and beautifying the church. Our church is in the process of renovation and on this very day of this incident, he happened to be dedicating HIS ENTIRE DAY to serving his church and helping with the demolition!!!!! What 16 year old do you know that will spend his ENTIRE DAY at his church???? This young man is the 2nd oldest of 4 kids. His father is very ill and his mother had to retire from doing hair to take care of him, This young man was going to quit sports just to get a job with his older brother to help provide for his family, but his parents refused to allow that because he has dreams of going to college and eventually going pro one day!! This is one of the most respectfully, kind-hearted, helpful and caring young men we have at the church. SO PLEASE RoccoG…GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT SIR!!!!! Thank you and God bless!!!!

      • God'schild

        I too know this family and everything you stated is not the facts either. He in fact has been in trouble but has got out of it due to his parents covering for him. I do not believe it was just his “race” that got him frisked weather it was right or wrong. I as a youth have been stopped plenty of times in the DSM area for walking around out of sheer boredom, to turn this into a “it was because of my race” issue is absurd. Not saying he is a bad kid but don’t let the “church” side fool you, he has been in trouble for stealing, fighting, an other stuff, most of it his parents do not know about but some of it they lied and got him out of it. I think this is just a parental excuse to “get money from the government” there are people harassed every day for the color of their skin who actually get beat or killed over it that deserve to be compensated not some little kid who got questioned and frisked as part of standard police procedure. If that was the case I should have had my daddy sue the cops a million times growing up an cry “racism!” Just because the family is “church goers” does not mean anything I know plenty of evil crooked people who are the highest members of churches. IN MY OPINION it is being blown into something it is not. There are real cases of racial inequality, child abuse, murder, missing children’s etc. out here that deserve media air time, not someone’s opinion of” I was xed out because i am black “(that is their families opinion of why he was frisked not a fact). The fact that you may or may not know the individuals an the type of people they are has no barring on the facts. There are plenty of evil people that get treated very poorly everyday, does it mean that they are less entitled to justice because they are mean and nasty people? no. There is also people that have dark sides they hide very well, half of the serial killers and rapist out here have family’s and are heavy into the church and so on, and the world is shocked to find out they were behind such horrific crimes, now I am not saying this young man is anything like that but to state he is innocent because of what you think you know about his family or personality really holds no weight.

  • Sean cummins

    It’s called police work people. I’ve been frisked up against the car in my own neighborhood and I was just in the street at night. And I’m a white guy. There’s been B& E’s in the area & they’re doing they’re job. Can they only frisk white’s now? Sounds discriminatory to me.

  • steve

    the president is using the race card now to explain why his poll numbers are tanking…’s the thing to do……

  • Benjamin C. Bell Jr.

    It is not unreasonable than an officer would stop someone who seems to match a particular description to ascertain their identity in lieu of their duties. What I find troubling is upon finding out the individual does not happen to be who the police are looking for an apology nor an explanation seems to have been offered. The authority and power that an officer of the law carries does not come without responsibilities. Police work is serious business and it also does carry an implied human relations component that is vital to effective and efficient community camaraderie.
    Wisdom:Take the child home and explain to his parents what took place. This will diminish unnecessary and counterproductive banter about the president, race. and discrimination.
    All things being as they were stated I am glad the young man did not resist. This could have been taken to a dangerous level..

  • Matt

    Going by the article, harassment doesn’t seem to be what occurred here. If he matched the description of a suspect they were looking for then they were doing their job in stopping him. Their demeanor and whether or not they told him what was going on is what I’m curious about. How they handled the stop makes all the difference.

    • ChildOfGod

      Have you seen the young man they compared him to? He is about a shade lighter than this young man, and he is about 50 lbs or more heavier form the picture I saw. There is NO WAY POSSIBLE they could mistaken this young man for the person they were looking for!

      • God'schild

        well sir to some white people a lot of African Americans look alike, I have heard African Americans state many times before all white people look alike. It could have been truly a mistake that they thought he was another young man. As a child of God you should be stopping the hate and further racism not playing into it. I am not stupid I know racism exist but the racist people love the publicity they get just as much as the ones crying about it. If the cops had been African American would this “race card” be valid? no it would not be. I say we quit blowing it out of proportion and pray for the people who need it. If that truly was the motive was the fact he was African American well then I would say they need a little bit of Jesus in their lives wouldn’t you? For the parents to say they are suing the city how is that God like? God tells us to not take revenge for if we believe in him we also trust him to do what is right with our enemies. They are so into church but they must not believe that much to do this.

  • John Dean Heidenreich


  • cheese on the floor

    First and foremost don’t EVER say anything when stopped. Give your name and address and SS number if asked and thats it. Even if you have nothing to hide.

  • Jim

    This is all horse sh*t. Des Moines’s Finest pulled me over last month. They said I was weaving, asked me if I had been drinking, and I I hadn’t.

    Still put me through field sobriety tests and passed obviously.

    I am white, officers were white.

    It was all BS, but at least they were polite.

    Blacks need to get over this anytime stopped by police or other authorities it has to be racially motivated.

  • Susan

    Ok, um, he was walking home already. They dropped him off a few blocks from his home. so, those of you complaining they didn’t take him home…oh well! he was fine with the walk BEFORE they stopped him. Why couldn’t he walk it AFTER they stopped him? It doesn’t say they took him further from home.

  • Susan

    If he REALLY wants to be a police office, I wouldn’t think having officers stop him and question him would kill that dream. Seems like maybe it was just something convenient to say?
    I sincerely do not believe I am racist. I AM tired of having the race card played so often. If this young man had been white, this would not have made the news. It’s like the boy that cried ‘wolf’. It happens so often anymore, it’s hard to believe it if is real.

    • KN Black

      If he is serious about becoming a cop, this should be an incident to convince him to join. When in the USAF, I didn’t like some of the training they gave. Instead of complaining, I finished the training and after getting experience on the job became an instructor. Lots of extra work, but it gave me a chance to change the system a little. If I can make a difference in the USAF then he could easily make a change in the city of Des Moines. The city needs people like him. He would have the insight of not just being a cop, but a good representative of the city.

    • God'schild

      AMEN to that! News channels would laugh if a white child wanted to make a media story over something like this. Would it have been different if a African American cop had frisked him? What could they say then, and if that is the case for him to not want a “white” cop to frisk him would that be racist on his part? Too many holes in this story. People are taking it for the cry wolf that it is but when you stop to think about it, it really does not make since as to what they are complaining about.

  • MJC

    Everyone needs to own up to their actions whether u have a badge or not. If police r here to protect then that’s what they should do not make it worse for human beings. Black or white we are all human beings. If u have a child and want the very best for them u would feel the same way as this innocent mother and her child.

  • Troy Hendrickson

    Remember people, you have a Constitutional right to videotape poice officers so long as you are not physically interfering with their work, and make sure your camera is uploading live to an encrypted cloud so when they try to delete your video after unlawfully harassing you can smile and say thanks, but it’s already on youtube.

  • KN Black

    The police have a right to stop and question for ID and a little info on what you have been doing to ascertain if you might be some one their looking for. This 1st revolves around just asking for ID and where you have been and where you live. This doesn’t involve intimidation by making him assume the position, not giving a reason why you were stopped, putting a person in a situation where you can’t just walk away from them if they can’t arrest you. US Supreme Court opinion, not some police adviser. They can stop, yes, we can walk away if they don’t have a good reason to keep you.This kid should be able to sue the dickens out of the cops that did this. The desk Sargent should get a little community relations training. And black, white, brown or what ever he should be treated with more emphases on service and protection and less on intimidation. I know a police officers job is a tough one, but if two cops can’t control a simple stop and quiz then they need more training on low level control and less on watching tv cop reality show over-control.

  • Rob

    Why does it matter that he goes to church? Clearly he’s a good kid, but are we supposed to assume that church-goers are more ethical people than non church-goers? We need to get over that prejudice.

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  • God'schild

    The comment about how the parent is ill so his mom “retired” to take care of the father is FALSE! I know for a fact the father is not THAT ill it is a ploy. Even church people lie quit believing everything your fellow members tell you sir! And I also agree with the prejudice of church goers are more believable then non church goers. That is the same prejudice that this young man is claiming just in a different form.

  • mack

    So because you have been in trouble u should be stopped,searched an questioned when ever they feel necessary load of crap I know plenty of people that have been done the same way and its wrong not all policeman are bad but there is alot out there that abuse the badge n how can u get help from other police its a brotherhood they dont wanna make there own look bad and if they do they end up with some type of consequences their self how do u win learn the law better than them and play there game never talk to police ever they do not intend to help u only give your name address an ssc thats it

  • KeepinItReal

    What goes around comes around. When you harass, stalk, and try to ruin others and don’t correct it, you may just get a taste of ur own medicine! I know this family personally, too. The blanket was pulled off my eyes, fake Christians (I learned the hard way) and a pastor who didn’t follow through with victim of Romans behavior.

Comments are closed.