Black leader: ‘Comments from Waterloo police officers hurt community trust’

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 9:01 PM CDT
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - Body camera video shows two Waterloo Police Officers making what one county NAACP president called “unprofessional” remarks about a man before arresting him.

The video from March 2021, which shows Rickie Perkins being pulled over and arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, also shows a police officer calling him an “old cat” and then another officer saying he should have shot Rickie in a previous incident before initiating a traffic stop.“I like it when you guys go after older cats, I f****** know them at least,” one officer said. Another officer responded, “I should have f****** shot Rickie years ago.”

The officer, who made the comment about shooting Rickie Perkins, explained it was because of a past incident with a fake gun.

“Then he’s like hiding by a front door, whatever when we pull up and I wasn’t expecting it to be him and all of a sudden I was like, he was like moved his hand, see the gun that was gold,” the officer said. “It was a fake, then he just like (inaudible) it, didn’t realize it was a cop and he “f****** threw it.”

Captain Jason P. Feaker, who is a spokesperson for the Waterloo Police Department, has ignored our i9 Investigative Team’s multiple requests for the full names of the officers, who made those comments. He said the department and the city can’t comment on the video because of a complaint to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

According to the commission’s website, a judge could require the city of Waterloo to pay Perkins damages including court costs and attorney fees.

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team received the video from Perkins, who was convicted of the OWI in April and awaits sentencing this month.

Perkins, who is from Waterloo, said he believes the police have been targeting him for years. He said he has stopped going out at night because he’s scared.

“It, it just really really really got me scared,” Perkins said. “And there are also people around here telling me, like, ‘I need to be careful’ because now they know I have this video.”

Court documents show Perkins has been charged multiple times. Those charges include interfering with official acts, assault, harassment, possessing a controlled substance and child endangerment. Documents show some of those charges were dismissed while others ended up with a negotiated plea deal.

Perkins said he doesn’t know if there is a relationship between his history in court and his belief that police are consistently watching him.

“I feel like if you got in trouble before, I feel like they just hold it over you like, they won’t ever let it go,” he said.

Latanya Graves, who is the President for the Black Hawk County NAACP said, regardless of Perkin’s criminal past the comments from the officers spoke to a perception people of color have of police. She said the perception is police view people of color, like those who are Black in a negative way.

“For me, that came from the heart,” Graves said. “No type of implicit bias training, sensitivity, diversity training can take away what you feel when it’s that deep.”

Graves said she believes those comments were extremely unprofessional and is concerned those officers are still likely on the police force.

Perkins filed a complaint in August 2021 with the Waterloo Police Department over the comments. A copy of the complaint, which our i9 Team reviewed, names Officers Steve Bose and Jordan Ehlers, who was named officer of the year in 2019.

Greg Fangman, who is part of the Waterloo Police Department’s administrative division and internal affairs, said the department’s investigation focused specifically on the comments made prior to the traffic stop in March rather than the other parts of the complaint.

He said the department agreed the comment made by Officer Woodward was inappropriate, according to the letter. But, the department gave no first name for the police officer and said it would be handled internally.

“We appreciate you bringing this to our attention and providing us the opportunity to review the actions of our officers,” Fangman wrote. “We consistently strive to improve our level of professionalism within the Waterloo Police Department.”

The Waterloo Police Department along with city and county officials asked for more help from individual community members at a press conference on Tuesday after seven shootings happened in eight days.

Graves said she believes the city needs more funds for agencies working with kids, particularly those who are 10 to 15-years-old. She said comments like the ones in this video make it difficult for people of color to trust the police.

”If they are not going to tell on their own,” she said. “Then why should we assist them, why should we help them.”

The video showing the comments before the traffic stop were not played for the jury in court. Court documents show prosecutors successfully argued those comments had nothing to do with OWI after a judge declared the stop and search constitutional.

Graves said she was extremely frustrated the video wasn’t played in full during the trial. She said this makes it even more difficult to trust the criminal justice system.

“It’s so hard to trust a criminal justice system that doesn’t allow all of the evidence to be presented,” Graves said.

Brian Williams (D), who is the county attorney for Black Hawk County, said in an email he understands people’s frustration and doesn’t condone the statements from the officers. He said this type of evidence is commonly thrown out because it has nothing to do with the underlying offense.

“Generally we are tasked with redacting statements from interviews of Defendants because they have nothing to do with the offense alleged,” Williams wrote in an email. “The rules of evidence in criminal proceedings do very much restrict the entire story being told.”

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