After a University of North Texas journalism professor wrote a column claiming she was stopped by officers for "walking while black," the police chief released dashcam video of the incident and refuted the accusation.
Dorothy Bland, dean of the journalism school at the University of North Texas, said she was walking in her neighborhood in Corinth, Texas, on Oct. 24 when she was told by police to stop, according to the column she published four days later in the Dallas Morning News.
"Flashing lights and sirens from a police vehicle interrupted a routine Saturday morning walk in my golf-course community in Corinth," Bland wrote. "Like most African-Americans, I am familiar with the phrase 'driving while black,' but was I really being stopped for walking on the street in my own neighborhood?"
"I had no interest in my life's story playing out like Trayvon Martin's death," the column continued. "I stopped and asked the two officers if there was a problem; I don't remember getting a decent answer before one of the officers asked me where I lived and for identification."
"I guess I was simply a brown face in an affluent neighborhood," Bland added.
On Thursday, the Corinth Police Department wrote a response to Bland, which was also published in the Dallas Morning News. Corinth Police Chief Debra Walthall said the encounter was not about race, but about Bland's safety.
Additionally, the Corinth police released dashcam video footage of Bland walking in the street before a police sergeant and an officer trainee stop her.
The cops then get out of the car and approach Bland, advising her to walk on the other side of the road so that she can see oncoming traffic. The cops mention a truck, saying she did not see it and impeded traffic.
"We didn't want you to get hit," one of the officers is heard saying on the video.
The cops then ask for her identification card, which Bland didn't have on her because she was out exercising. Instead, the cops radio her name and date of birth to the station.
Bland also asks to make a note of the incident, taking a picture of the two officers and their vehicle with their permission.
Bland can be heard on the video saying she can't believe she has been pulled over for walking and reminds the officers she is a law-abiding, tax paying citizen.
Bland is then released and is seen walking toward the other side of the street.
"They immediately advised ... that it was safer for her to walk against traffic so she could see the cars and jump out of the way if necessary," Walthall wrote in her response. "Impeding traffic is a Class C misdemeanor, and it is our policy to ask for identification from people we encounter for this type violation."
"I am surprised by her comments as this was not a confrontational encounter but a display of professionalism and genuine concern for her safety," Walthall added.
Bland told NBC News on Thursday that she had nothing more to add and that she was ready to move on and focus on her job.
BuzzFeed News has also reached out to Bland and the Corinth Police Department for additional information.
Watch the dashcam footage here:
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Honolulu.
Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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