Police in Colorado, Boulder, have launched an internal investigation after a video emerged of a group of white officers confronting a black man who was picking up litter on his own property.
In the video, the man is surrounded by white police officers – some of whom have their weapons drawn.
The 16-minute-clip was uploaded to YouTube and quickly found its way to social networking websites, as people shared the clip as an example of what they say is insitutionalised police racism.
“You’re on my property with a gun in your hand,” he is heard saying to one of the Boulder police officers, who has his gun unclipped from its holster and drawn. “Threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash.”
Boulder police told ABCthat the confrontation occurred at 8:30am. According to a statement by police officials:
A Boulder police officer observed a man sitting in a partially enclosed patio area directly behind a 'Private Property' sign and initiated contact with the man to determine if he was allowed to be on the property.
The statement didn’t say the man had been observed doing anything illegal.
"Officers ultimately determined that the man had a legal right to be on the property and returned the man's school identification card. All officers left the scene and no further action was taken," the police statement concluded.
The man, whose identity is unknown, had shown his school identification to police to determine if he lived there and, when he was detained for further investigation, he became angry.
It was at this point his neighbour began recording.
He had been holding a bucket and a metal tool used to pick up trash. In the video the police officer with his gun drawn referred to it as a weapon, and when the man refused to put it down, called for back-up.
Seven police officers reportedly showed up after he told them the man was:
...being uncooperative and unwilling to put down a blunt object.
The man can be heard repeatedly telling the police to get off his property:
I don't have a weapon. This is a bucket. This is a clamp.
This is my property. I live here.
One officer told him to “just relax” and another told him to sit on the ground.
He can also be heard saying: "I'm not sitting down. I'm not sitting down, and you can't make me."
Police told NBC News the investigation is expected to take between 60 to 90 days, and the police officer who first engaged with the man has been placed on administrative leave.