After rising to “celebrity cop” status in 2016 following a viral video of him playing hoops with a group of teens, Officer Bobby White is now facing backlash for a newly surfaced video that depicts an episode of racial abuse in which he slammed a Black teen against the hood of his patrol vehicle.
Also known as "Basketball Cop," White originally rose to prominence in 2016 after video spread of him playing with a group of teens during a routine neighborhood patrol stop: After a noise complaint was filed by a neighbor against the teenagers playing outside, White arrived on the scene. Instead of taking the opportunity to issue charges or a ticket, he settled for a few quick pickup games instead.
As noted in a recent feature by the New York Times, the video represented a breath of fresh air for many during a period of consecutive years plagued with acts of police brutality documented on video, including that of cases like Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and Alton Sterling among countless others.
The video ultimately led to widespread praise of White, who used the newfound recognition to invite celebrities like Shaq and the Harlem Globetrotters to play with those in the neighborhood, as well as founding the Basketball Cop Foundation, a charity dedicated to fostering police/youth relations nationwide.
Now, another side of the Gainesville, Florida, officer is being brought to light in a second video that shows White forcefully slamming a 15-year-old into the hood of his car.
In June, video of the 2014 incident was published via Facebook in response to the killing of George Floyd. "Folks wanna say that not all cops are bad. We know that but we also know that the culture of Police departments creates an environment where there are no real consequences for these officers," wrote Chanae Jackson in the post's caption. "In this case, GPD helped this Officer rebrand his image and pretend to be a savior to the very group (young Black males) that he terrorizes and antagonizes..."
The suspect in the video was riding home on his bike when he was stopped for allegedly running a stop sign and having inadequate lighting for his bike. The video has sparked outrage among many who feel that the stark portrayals within both videos is a testament to the state of community policing in the U.S. today. Despite his previous good faith efforts, the video reveals that even still, White is not exempt from participatory police violence.
In a statement condemning Officer Derek Chauvin in the case of the recent killing of George Floyd, White wrote "I'm FRUSTRATED for the vast majority of the great officers who go out there everyday and do their best to honor their oath, just to have their efforts diminished by incidents like this."
In a statement provided by the Gainesville Police Department, they did not find any law violations committed by White and his arrest of the juvenile was legal but declined to prosecute the case. Additionally, based on the event, the Department of Justice implemented several pieces of training within GPD addressing "Implicit Bias, De-escalation, Problem Solving and Building Better Relations with the Community."
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