Vance Benton has been the principal at Patterson High School in Baltimore for the past eight years.
But a white officer that approached him as he walked past a crime scene with his teenage son in July, on the street where they live, seemed to only see criminals.
“You guys weren’t involved in that at all were you?” the officer can be heard asking Benton in a body-camera video that was released Wednesday (September 18) by the Baltimore County Police, reports the Baltimore Sun.
“He saw me as the ‘n-word’ and not as a black man with his son,” Benton, who filed a complaint in early August following the racially motivated confrontation, told the Baltimore Sun.
“He saw me as another opportunity to degrade someone and he relished that opportunity to do it in front of my son,” Benton added.
The incident took place in Owings Mills, a neighborhood 13 miles outside Baltimore, on July 29.
Benton pressed charges in early August and, after an investigation, the Baltimore Police Department took “administrative action” against the officer.
Now, the video, see here, shows how things unfolded.
After the officer pressed Benton on whether he and his son, Taj, 15, were involved in the crime, the educator defended himself.
“Why would you ask me that?” Benton asked the officer, who assumed he and his son could be involved.
“Because you’re standing here,” the cop responds.
Ironically, Benton, who told the officer he was a tax-paying, U.S. citizen, also said he was there “educating my son on how to deal with police.”
“Well let me educate you, sir,” the officer said. “When we do a thorough investigation, we stop and talk to witnesses. Are you a witness?”
“Ask me that first,” Benton said.
“I asked you if you were involved. At all,” the officer responded, defending his earlier actions.
“Why would you ask me if I’m involved? Ask me if I’m a witness,” Benton said. “If I’m a witness, I’m not involved.”
Things got even more heated when the officer insulted Benton by telling him “people get away with crime because of people like you.”
Benton didn’t take the “people like you” comment lightly and when he showed disdain and looked the officer up and down, the cop said, “Do not buck up to me.”
The officer then turned to Benton’s son and said that he hopes he finds a good role model.
“I wouldn’t listen to this dude,” he said of Benton before starting to walk away.
The principal’s son reportedly responded off-camera that he does listen to his father’s advice, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“I will be seeing you again then,” the cop turned back to say.
Adding insult to injury, the officer than belittlingly asked Benton, “Can you read?” when the educator couldn’t make out the officer’s name on his badge in the evening light.
The officer then spelled out his last name, Price, in a slow, exaggerated way, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The police department has not released the officer’s first name, according to the Sun.
Eventually, Benton and his son began walking away and the officer followed them.
“You need to keep walking,” the officer said. “You are going to get locked up.”
However, the details surrounding the administrative action being taken against the officer have not been released.
“It is my sincere desire that your future contacts with the Baltimore County Police Department be of a favorable nature,” he wrote to Benton, the Daily Mail reports.
Originally, the police department intended to release a redacted copy of the body cam footage without the officer’s voice, but then released the footage, including the audio, with Benton’s face blocked out.
The ACLU and county Councilman Julian Jones, whose district includes Owings Mills, said the video should be made public, reports the Baltimore Sun.
The principal told county officials he’d never been treated with such “degradation, disrespect, and humiliation,” according to the Baltimore Sun.