A white cop has resigned from his position after causing outrage for confronting a Black college student who was picking up trash outside of where he lives.
According to city officials, John Smyly was seen in a now-viral video on March 1 engaged in a confrontation with Naropa University student Zayd Atkinson, the Boulder Daily Camera reports.
Smyly reportedly encountered Atkinson in an area that had a “private property sign,” and asked him if he had a right to be there. The student then reportedly told the officer that he lived and worked there and handed over his ID card. Atkinson had a trash picker and bucket in his hand.
Atkinson continued to clean up the trash as Smyly demanded to know his address and date of birth. The officer also called dispatch for backup. Atkinson, seemingly agitated, raised his voice which caused the Smyly to become “threatened by the trash grabber,” according to the report.
“You’re probably going to get tased in a second because you have a weapon,” Smyly told Atkinson before showing his handgun.
Atkinson requested for Smyly’s superior several times and at least eight officers and a sergeant responded. According to the report, none of then pointed their weapons at Atkinson.
“The subject officer should have ended his contact with Mr. Atkinson as soon as Mr. Atkinson provided his name, address and a brief explanation of what he was doing,” the report read.
Smyly is a 14-year department veteran was found in violation of two department policies. He resigned before a disciplinary process commenced.
He will, however, remain an employee through February 2020 and earn his $69,000 in salary for unused holiday and sick time, officials said.
“The exchange between Officer Smyly and Mr. Atkinson does not represent the professionalism of the Boulder Police Department nor the community Boulder desires to be,” said City Attorney Tom Carr in a statement to the newspaper. “While we have no proof racial bias was a motivating factor, the internal affairs investigation resulted in sustained violations of police policies.”
“If you or I did what Officer Smyly did to Zayd Atkinson, not only would we be immediately fired, we would be criminally prosecuted,” attorney Siddhartha Rathod told the newspaper. “The citizens of Boulder should be outraged that Boulder either doesn’t have the ability or the will to fire this officer and root out discrimination from this police department.”