SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Police in San Francisco on Monday released body-worn camera video of officers responding to a call last week about a black man on Valencia Street being suspected of breaking into his own business.
Police said that on Tuesday, July 17, shortly after 7:30 a.m., officers were sent to the 800 block of Valencia Street in the Mission after reports of a possible burglary in process at a place of business. The caller told police dispatch that the suspect was removing items from a small open door at the business.
As it turned out, the four responding officers stopped and questioned Vicktor Stevenson, the owner of the Gourmonade lemonade stand, who was simply arriving at his own business and starting his day.
San Francisco police said in a statement released with the body camera video from two of the officers that they spoke to the Stevenson and determined he was in fact the owner of the business. The entire encounter lasted less than three minutes, according to police.
The two-minute clips show the incident from two different angles as Stevenson shows the officers that he has a set of keys that open the locks at the stand in addition to providing his ID to one of the officers who takes it to his patrol car and runs it through the police database.
The officer then returns the ID to Stevenson and apologizes for the inconvenience, saying the call was a “100 percent misunderstanding.”
“While we have no say over who requests our services, we do have a say over how we respond,” the statement released with the links to the video concluded. “The men and women of SFPD are committed to providing safety with respect to all of the people of San Francisco. It is the duty of San Francisco Police to respond to calls for service and we believe our officers responded appropriately and with courtesy to this call.”
The call stirred some controversy last week, with several stories regarding the incident going viral on social media.
Stevenson told news agencies that while the police officers were polite and just doing their job, that the experience still left him feeling vulnerable and disrespected. He said he was convinced that the call to police was racially motivated.
On a more positive side, he also said that many customers have visited his business since the story went viral as locals moved to show their support.