This article was updated at 12:22 p.m. Sept. 29 following an interview with Bradd Brown, chief of police.
A student claims he was questioned by campus police officers because of his skin color.
Broderick McQuarters, flute performance sophomore, was awakened at 2 a.m. Sept. 27 by officers from the Oklahoma City University Police Department in his Methodist Hall room. The officers said they were investigating two students breaking a Methodist Hall parking garage fence motion sensor.
“They barged into my room while I was asleep. I didn’t even have clothes on. They looked at me and yelled at me to get up,” McQuarters said. “They came in and went to my roommate’s side. My roommate was confused because there were two cops and an RA that wasn’t even ours standing in front of him.”
Tom Hoblin, the RA involved, said he was told not to comment by his superiors.
McQuarters said there were two officers, but only one officer is mentioned in the police report. The officer who filed the report was not one of the two in McQuarters’s room, he said. But one of the officers McQuarters said was in his room approved the report.
McQuarters said the officers entered his dorm after knocking and noticing that his door was unlocked.
“That doesn’t allow people, including police officers, to enter my room,” McQuarters said. “They could’ve waited until the morning or communicated in a calmer manner.”
There is not a report of two officers going into McQuarter’s room, Bradd Brown, chief of police, said Sept. 29.
“Generally only one officer on that type of incident would complete a report. They would put what they think are the relevant facts,” he said. “If they don’t feel it’s relevant, it’s not necessarily going to make it into a police report. They don’t record everything that’s done. They record the pertinent facts that have to do with the crime or the incident.”
McQuarters said the officers questioned him, asking him what he had been doing that night.
“I told them I came home from Cane’s with my friend,” McQuarters said. “We went through the gate of the second level parking garage of Methodist, and I went to bed.”
The police report about the broken sensor only mentions one suspect, a woman. Officer Jonathan Stewart was checking the lower garage of Methodist Hall when he noticed the gate was open and the sensor was broken, according to the report. Stewart checked surveillance video and saw someone jump the fence and run to Cokesbury Court Apartments at 11:35 p.m., the report reads.
Chief Brown said the information passed down to him reflects what was in the police report, which excludes McQuarter’s account of what happened.
“The entire time I was trying to explain to the cop that there was no possible way I could’ve done this,” McQuarters said. “If I drove in through the gate, why would I hop over the fence to get back out? It doesn’t make any logical sense.”
The description of the suspect that officers described didn’t match his appearance, McQuarters said. The police report doesn’t reference a male at all.
“He looked nothing like me,” he said. “His skin tone was so much darker than mine, and he was very thin. His hair was cut, and I have long hair.”
The officers still asked him questions, McQuarters said.
“The girl on camera was an African American. The girl that I was with was a white thinner girl that was blonde, which is exactly what they saw on camera,” he said. “It seemed to me like they were forming their questions in a way to try and get me to admit to doing something that I didn’t do. They finally gave up and left.”
Officer Stewart made contact with a different suspect at 5:30 a.m. She admitted to breaking the sensor.
University officials need to take racial bias more seriously, McQuarters said.
“Officers are here to protect us. I understand that,” he said. “However, entering my room while I’m asleep, yelling at me to get up, questioning me without any proof that it was me, and then accusing me for the crime anyways is racial profiling.”
McQuarters said Sept. 28 that he was hesitant to alert administration.
“They would’ve told me I was overreacting,” he said. “I just had to try and move on with my day because I knew there was nothing I could do about it. If I were to go and tell the administration or the police department, they would try and justify it.”
The police report about the broken sensor was forwarded to student affairs and housing for further review, according to the report.
“We encourage somebody, if they feel like something’s out of the ordinary in any of our actions, to report that to us, so either I or a supervisor can look into more details,” Chief Brown said. “We want to make sure we’re always doing the right thing and the things we need to do.”
Contributing: Miguel Rios, editor-in-chief