December 05, 2013
Twenty-two-year-old Kayla made headlines after she claimed that four undercover officers detained her outside a high-end department store in New York City and questioned her about a $2,500 handbag purchase. Was she targeted because of the color of her skin, or was it just a misunderstanding? Then, former child star Cherie Johnson and her actor boyfriend, Dennis White, say their romantic getaway to South Carolina turned into a nightmare when they were allegedly harassed and handcuffed by a police officer while taking pictures of a cotton field. Hear their story — and why they say the officer went too far. And, 28-year-old former minor league baseball player Robbie Tolan says his dreams of making the major leagues, like his father, Bobby Tolan, were ruined five years ago, after he was shot in the chest by a police officer who approached him in his parents’ driveway. Robbie — who still has a bullet lodged in his liver — believes he was racially profiled and says he will continue to fight for justice, despite losing two court battles against the police department. Why does Robbie say he was targeted? Plus, hear from experts on both sides of the debate: Is racial profiling a necessary safety measure?
Kayla, 22, says she felt embarrassed and humiliated when she was stopped by four undercover officers outside Barneys New York earlier this year and questioned about her $2,500 handbag purchase. “I felt like a criminal,” she says. “That had to have been the most embarrassing, low point in my life.”
Dr. Phil introduces Mychal Massie, former National Chairman of the Conservative Black Think Tank and author of Random Rants, who says he does not believe that racial profiling exists in this day and age. “At the mere suggestion, hint or possibility that someone has been detained or looked at based on race or color of skin, triggers a series of events that no business owner, no police department, in their right mind, wants to go through,” he says.
Retired LAPD sergeant Cheryl Dorsey disagrees. “I appreciate this gentleman’s perspective, but what he has not been is a police officer,” she says. “I can tell you, without a doubt, that officers routinely stop people and manufacture [probable cause] to fit the circumstance.” She says she believes that is what happened in Kayla’s situation. “I’m not talking about something I’ve heard; I’m talking about something that I’ve been a witness to and a victim of, as a police officer and as a black woman,” she adds.
Mark Lee, CEO of Barneys New York, has released the following statement regarding Kayla’s case and a separate incident involving 19-year-old Trayon Christian, who claimed that Barneys’ staffers racially profiled him:
No one, and I mean no individual, should go through the unacceptable experiences described by Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips in recent media reports, and we offer our deepest sympathies to both of them. Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination, and we are committed to treating everyone who comes into our stores with respect and dignity.
Our preliminary investigation has concluded that in both of these instances, no one from Barneys New York raised any issue with these purchases. No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security, and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities.
Moving forward, there is a broader issue that needs to be addressed, and Barneys New York is committed to be part of the solution.
Former Punky Brewster star Cherie Johnson and her actor boyfriend, Dennis White, say they were handcuffed and harassed by a police officer during a recent vacation in South Carolina — an incident they classify as racial profiling.
Dennis says Cherie had never seen a cotton field before, so they decided to pull over to the side of the road and take pictures — and soon after, a sheriff’s deputy approached them.
Dr. Phil staff reached out to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department several times, but as of taping time, they were unable to provide a statement.
Former minor league baseball player Robbie Tolan, 28, made headlines five years ago, when he was shot in the chest by an officer who approached him and a friend in his parents’ driveway, in an affluent Texas neighborhood. “He just came out of the darkness, with a gun and flashlight drawn, did not announce himself, told us to get on the ground,” he says, adding that he and his friend asked the officer why they were being told to do so.
Robbie’s mom, Marian, says she and her husband, former major league baseball player Bobby Tolan, heard the commotion from the kitchen. “We were in our pajamas, and then we heard Robbie say, ‘What are you talking about? That’s my car,’” she says.
Bobby says he went outside to investigate. “When I opened up the door, I was blinded by the flashlight,” he recalls. “No one said, ‘This is the police.’” He says Robbie told him that the officer accused him of driving a stolen vehicle.
“My dad said, ‘No, that has to be a mistake. That’s my son. That’s his car. This is our house,’” Robbie recalls. He claims that the officer walked his father over, at gunpoint, and searched him — and soon after, his mother became more vocal.
Robbie says a second officer grabbed his mom and “threw her up against the garage door,” which he admits angered him. “I was not too happy about seeing my mom treated like that,” he says. “I pushed myself up, and turned around and said, ‘Get your * hands off my mom.’” He says after that, the officer shot him.
Marian says that the judge who dismissed their civil case also ordered that they pay the officer who shot Robbie. “We had to pay his court fees — almost $7,000,” she says.