Watch: Virginia Beach Police chief holds press conference on viral incident of Black man being detained for 'fitting description' of suspect

Posted at 5:33 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 23:55:06-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A video showing a Black man being detained in Lynnhaven Mall on Saturday has gone viral over social media, resulting in an investigation by the Virginia Beach Police Department.

In the video posted by BLM 757, it shows a Black man, later identified as Jamar Mackey, eating with his family in the food court of the mall when an officer begins to put Mackey's hands behind his back to handcuff him. In the video, you can hear both the man and a woman he is with questioning the officers as to what is going on.

The woman continues to say throughout the video that they do not have a black truck in reference to what the officer mentioned as she asks for an explanation from officers as to why Mackey is being detained.

The video shows the officer continuing to walk Mackey outside of the mall handcuffed as the man pleads for the reasoning.

The officer releases him once they are outside and begins to explain why he detained Mackey, as seen in the video. In the video, the officer says that a description of another Black man fit his description.

The officer is shown attempting to apologize for the misunderstanding, but Mackey continues to express the embarrassment he has faced.

Mackey can be heard explaining in the video how the incident is an example of the ongoing nationwide protests, as the woman attempts to receive a business card to talk with higher authorities.

Virginia Beach Police have responded to the viral video and say an investigation has been initiated to determine "the propriety of the response in this matter."

“Certainly, anyone would be upset about being detained for something they didn’t do," said Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate. “While the video shows the officer stayed calm and respectful throughout the brief encounter, we must ensure the situation merits the response. We are gathering all the facts to evaluate the incident so we can address the concerns people have raised."

The Virginia Beach NAACP chapter released the following statement in regards to the incident:

The Virginia Beach NAACP strongly condemns the apparent racial bias on display in the video clip that has widely circulated on social media today. In the midst of a global pandemic, Virginia Beach police officers - without masks or personal protective equipment - mistakenly detained a Black man who was spending quality time with his family. As a Virginia Beach officer stated “you have the right to be upset,” and indeed we are just that: quite upset.

Even more alarming, calls from the Virginia Beach NAACP to the Virginia Beach Police Chief remain unanswered as of Sunday evening. We are demanding a meeting with the Virginia Beach Police Chief within 48 hours. As the police department has not responded to our inquiries, the Virginia Beach NAACP has launched its own investigation into the incident.

The NAACP will not rest until every Black citizen in Virginia Beach can shop, dine, and travel without being racially profiled by our city’s police officers.

Councilman Aaron Rouse reacted to the incident in a message on Facebook:

Monday afternoon, Chief Neudigate held a press conference on the situation and offered an apology.

“Right or wrong, we have to be able to apologize when our actions greatly inconvenience a member of the community," he said.

Rep. Elaine Luria also responded to the incident, saying, "Mackey’s wrongful detainment in front of his children was unacceptable and emblematic of the frequent disproportionate treatment of people of color by law enforcement."

Neudigate told News 3 they're focusing on two main areas in their investigation.

“Was the initial approach and stop justified, and were the use of handcuffs justified?" he said. “We’re trying to determine what specific information was relayed and known by the officer in this incident that led to the detention.”

He said they're also working to gather as much information as possible.

“We only know what occurred based upon the video that was shared. Unfortunately, our supervisors at this current time do not wear body cams,” Neudigate said. “We don’t have the interaction that led up and any conversations. It is our responsibility to try to obtain all the relevant video footage and interview those people that were involved so that we have a true understanding before we try to make an analysis of the propriety of the officer’s actions.”

Neudigate said they'll also address the officer not wearing a mask as seen in the video.

“It is absolutely the expectation that our officers will use their mask and wear their mask in accordance the governor’s directive,” he said.

He also commented on the officer's response in the video.

“I think what we saw out there was a very professional response from the officer after he realized that based on the facts or circumstances that this was not the individual,” Neudigate said.

Overall, officers will work to find answers.

“We’re still in the early stages,” Neudigate said. “It’s still too early for me to definitively say [it was] right or wrong, and that’s why we have an obligation to get all the facts before we make an analysis.”

Neudigate said he's open to talking with Mackey about the incident.

“I think it’s important that he hears from the chief that we’re sorry that this happened to you. We’re sorry that this happened in a public venue in front of your children at the holidays,” he said.

Neudigate told News 3 officers will work through the holidays to gather information for this investigation.

Warning: Video below contains explicit language