Man claims harassment in viral video
TPD chief says encounter ‘grossly misrepresented’ with no indications of racial bias
A local activist group and a Tulsa resident voiced concerns Wednesday over what they say was harassment and profiling of the man as he appeared on the A&E program “Live PD.”
Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan issued a statement later in the day saying the encounter was “grossly misrepresented” and that “there were no indications of racial bias
or harassment during the encounter.”
Randy J. Wallace, 39, said the Tulsa Police Department’s Gang Unit made contact with him twice, during which time they accused him of having gang affiliations. The A&E film crew, flanked by the Gang Unit, confronted Wallace another three to four times to get him to sign a release allowing uncensored use of the video footage, Wallace said during a news conference.
“The film crew lured me out of my house, and the gang task force was there,” Wallace said. “It scared me.”
Wallace eventually relented, agreeing to sign the document for a payment of $40.
Wallace recorded on his cellphone one of his encounters with the Gang Unit, where he asked about the disclaimer. An officer told him it was for A&E to use his image and likeness on television.
“The only guys that don’t sign them are guilty,” an officer apparently says in Wallace’s video.
But Jordan, in a statement released Wednesday afternoon, said, “The entire encounter between Wallace and (Gang Unit) Sgt. (Sean) Larkin was grossly misrepresented.
“The encounter was a casual contact initiated by Larkin who did not exhibit an aggressive enforcement style posture and in fact remained seated in his vehicle,” Jordan said.
“His only statement to the individuals by a car with the trunk open was ‘ What’s in the trunk guys?’ The other individual with Wallace chose to walk away as Wallace could have also done. He was in no way detained and was free to leave. Once Wallace went into his rant, Larkin attempted to de-escalate the situation to no avail and ultimately ended the encounter and drove away.
“There were no indications of racial bias or harassment during the encounter,” Jordan said.
“In Wallace’s own video from earlier, the officers talking to Wallace after he approached them were courteous and respectful,” the chief said.
“The assertion that officers were paid by Live PD is absurd and patently false. The only person paid by the production company was Wallace who demanded $40 to sign the release so that they could use him in the video.
“Mr. Wallace’s own video that he played at the press conference confirmed that Larkin told him that they had nothing to do with any contracts and that he should talk to the camera crew,” Jordan said.
Local activist group We the People Oklahoma hosted the news conference to discuss a video of Wallace’s “Live PD” appearance that went viral, depicting him and a Tulsa Police Department officer in a heated discussion about gang affiliation.
The video, shared on Facebook, was a “Live PD” viewer’s handheld recording of the encounter. The officer alleges that the man in the video is “dressing in gang colors.”
“I ain’t no f---- — gang member,” Wallace said. “And don’t accuse me as one.”
News broke earlier this week that Jordan declined to renew the Police Department’s contract with the show because “it was not in the best interest of the department,” spokesman Leland Ashley said.
Marq Lewis, leader of We The People Oklahoma, said the group wants to review the contract and the officers’ interactions with Wallace. Lewis said they intend to file a complaint with Tulsa Police Department “to allow Internal Affairs to look at what happened.”
“The citizens should not be on display for entertainment,” Lewis said.
Jordan said in his statement Wednesday afternoon: “I am approached regularly by north Tulsa citizens who wish to air concerns and improve relationships in the community. In other words, to find solutions.
“Mr. Lewis does not choose to contact me or the Internal Affairs Unit to express concerns,” he said.
Lewis, contacted Wednesday evening after Jordan’s statement was released, said he plans to contact the Police Department about filing a complaint.
“We wanted to make sure the (public) audience was able to hear his (Wallace’s) side of the story,” he said.
In the “Live PD” reality show, crews have shadowed police departments around the country, including the Tulsa Police Department’s Gang Unit.
Lewis said the emphasis placed on Wallace and his signature on the release raised concerns that the Gang Unit had turned too much attention away from gangs.
During the news conference, Wallace acknowledged having previous nonviolent felony convictions. According to online records from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, all of Wallace’s convictions were drug-related.
“The police officers have accused me of being gang affiliated,” Wallace said. “I’ve never been convicted of any gang affiliation, ... of any violent crimes.”
Sgt. Shane Tuell, a spokesman for the Tulsa Police Department, said Wednesday morning before the news conference that police cannot publicly say whether someone has known or suspected gang involvement.
Randy Wallace, who was on the A&E show “Live PD,” speaks during a news conference Wednesday. Watch a video of a news conference from We the People Oklahoma concerning the Tulsa Police Department’s participation in the A&E program “Live PD.”