Police in Sanford, Fla., may be in hot water again -- this time for a controversial stop where a politically active black man with a clean record was forced from his car and handcuffed at gunpoint.
Traymon Williams, 26, told The Grio he was driving with his girlfriend, DeShonda Robinson, and Robinson's younger brother, Kelvin Robinson Jr., on June 26, when he noticed a police car closely following them. Soon, Williams said, at least four more police cars joined the first, and before he knew it, he was forced at gunpoint to lie down in the road.
Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith told The Grio that Williams, DeShonda and Kelvin were cuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser. Officers released them when they realized Williams was not the home burglar they were looking for. Michael Moore, Williams's attorney, says the burglary suspect also drives a Toyota Camry but is significantly heavier than Williams.
The Sanford Police Department ordered an internal review of the officers' conduct during the stop, and Moore says that Williams, DeShonda and Kelvin plan to sue if the review doesn't resolve the situation.
The Sanford Police did not respond to a request for comment.
Williams, a lifelong Sanford resident, was outspoken about finding justice for Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was killed last year in Sanford by George Zimmerman during a scuffle on a rainy night in February. He gave interviews to news outlets including The Huffington Post, The Grio and MSNBC.
Sanford police came under fire after Martin's death for not arresting Zimmerman for six weeks, even after Zimmerman admitted shooting Martin. A HuffPost investigation revealed a number of other cases where community leaders in Sanford said the police hadn't properly investigated crimes involving black victims.
Several incidents over the past decade have strained race relations in the town, among them an episode where police questioned but did not arrest a lieutenant's son who had attacked a black homeless man, and a controversial incident where charges were dismissed against two white security guards (one a Sanford police officer's son) who killed a black teenager fleeing in his car from the officers.
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