Police mistakenly identified a black teenager for a burglar and pepper-sprayed him in his own home Monday afternoon.
18-year-old DeShawn Currie was coming home from school and entered his home in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. As he was walking into the house, a neighbor didn’t recognize Currie and assumed that something wrong was going to happen. The neighbor then called the police and according to MyFoxTampaBay, the three officers were dispatched to investigate and found the side door open and walked in, with their guns drawn.
Currie came downstairs and met the police in the dining room. The police were unaware if Currie was a burglar, or if he was armed. Currie said that he was cooperating with the officers. “I did everything that they asked,” said Currie. “I was calm and being compliant with them until something happened.”
Police pepper-spray black teen in foster parents' home after mistaking him for burglar: http://t.co/KiEHk3lNd1 pic.twitter.com/x2aQ7ZzWk0
— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@MyFoxTampaBay) October 10, 2014
Stacy Tyler, who made Currie her foster child, remembers the officers asking where is Currie’s picture if he claimed he lived there. “He snapped,” Tyler said. “And that’s when he got loud and yelling.”
According to MyFoxTampaBay, this is when the officer shot pepper spray into the face of Currie.
One of the police officers commented on the events that led up to Currie being sprayed. “Mr. Currie became very volatile, profane and threatened physical violence toward the police officer,” said police. “In an effort to calm Mr. Currie, the police officer asked him several times to have a seat, which he refused.”
Police officers continue to explain why Currie was sprayed. “Mr. Currie then struck the police officer’s left arm knocking the handcuffs to the floor,” said police. “That’s what led to the pepper spray.”
Tyler said that she came home Monday afternoon to find her foster son crying inside an ambulance. She said Currie was handcuffed and his eyes and face were rinsed with water to wash out the pepper. She says she feels terrible of what happened to her foster son.
“That was the part that broke my heart, knowing all the work that my husband and I have put into rebuilding his life and giving him a good and normal teenage life,” Tyler said. “You don’t get in foster care and not have scars, and he’s been in foster care a very long time.”
Currie said that his eyes still burn, and his heart is still suffering pain.
“I’m getting over it and whatever slowly,” said Currie. “But there’s still that big emotional part”.
The police department’s statement claims that this had nothing to do with the race of Currie. “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,” said the police department in their statement.