RACIAL CLAIM: Teen Says Police Harassed Him

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.