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October 24, 2014 permalink
Should white parents foster or adopt black children? Here is a new reason for caution. Black foster child DeShawn Currie went into his white foster parents' home in North Carolina by himself. A neighbor thought he was a burglar and called the police. When police arrived, they saw only pictures of white people in the home, so they handcuffed and pepper-sprayed Currie. Inter-racial fostering is not safe in a community where the neighbors and cops are racist.
Wake Co. teen confused for burglar, pepper sprayed in own home
FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. -
Police in Fuquay-Varina pepper sprayed a teenager in his own home after a neighbor reported him as burglar.
18-year-old DeShawn Currie let himself in the house on England Avenue on Monday afternoon after school. He said when he heard noises downstairs he looked out of his upstairs window, saw police cars in the driveway and went downstairs to figure out what was going on.
Fuquay-Varina Police said in a written statement that a neighbor has reported a possible burglary at the house. Officers responded, found a door ajar and went inside.
"I came downstairs to see what was going on, and there go the police, inside the house, guns drawn," Currie explained.
Currie said he tried to explain that he, his foster parents Rickey and Stacy Tyler, and their three young children had moved to Fuquay-Varina over the summer, so some neighbors may not recognize him. He said he tried to explain that the recent move was the reason his identification did not match the home's address.
Then an officer pointed out pictures on the fireplace mantel, Currie said. The pictures show the Tylers' three biological children. The Tylers are white. Currie is African-American.
“He was like how can you tell me you stay here when all the kids in the picture are white?” Currie recalled. “Right then I really started to get mad.”
Currie admits that the situation got heated and eventually led to officers putting him in handcuffs. He also admitted that at least twice he jerked his hand from the officer trying to handcuff him because he thought the officer was being too aggressive.
“Mr. Currie became very volatile, profane and threatened physical violence toward the police officer,” said the town's Public Information Officer Susan Weis in a written statement. “In an effort to calm Mr. Currie, the police officer asked him several times to have a seat, which he refused. Mr. Currie became increasingly belligerent and profane and the police officer attempted to restrain Mr. Currie with handcuffs to insure the police officer's and Mr. Currie's safety. Mr. Currie then struck the police officer's left arm knocking the handcuffs to the floor.”
The officer then used the pepper spray. Currie said he was on the ground being handcuffed when the officer used a second blast of spray on him.
Stacy Tyler arrived home to find Currie still handcuffed in the back of an ambulance. She said the whole ordeal has been hard for her entire family.
“My five year-old didn't understand why they hated him and wanted to hurt him,” Tyler said. “My husband had nightmares the whole first night about having to fight the police off from being in the wrong house."
She and Currie said they have worked hard to build a family since the Tyler's began fostering Currie last year. They were hurt by the thought that other people would assume they could not be family.
"That didn't necessarily take [that work] all away, but it damaged things," Tyler said as she explained how the incident made Currie second guess if he belonged with the Tylers.
Currie and his foster parents met with Fuquay-Varina police on Tuesday. They said the department is doing an internal investigation, but they do not expect to ever hear if an officer is disciplined because a police captain said it would be a private personnel matter.
“The family has complained during these discussions about the use of pepper spray. Race was never mentioned as a concern during these discussions. Nonetheless, Mr. Currie has made several remarks about race to the media after the event,” the town's written statement said. “The Fuquay-Varina Police Department does not engage in nor does it condone racial profiling. At no time during this event was race a factor. The Fuquay-Varina Police Department responded to a call from a concerned resident of England Avenue who had not previously seen Mr. Currie at this home.”
No charges were filed against Currie.
Tyler and Currie said the neighbor has apologized for not recognizing Currie and prompting the police response.