SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Bay Area man is apologizing and explaining his side of the story after a video of him calling the police on a black man outside his building — with his own son begging him to stop — went viral.
The video was recorded by the black man, Wesly Michel, a software engineer. The incident began when the father, YouTube employee Christopher Cukor, left his building with his son on July 4. Cukor called 911, after thinking that Michel was trying to slip into his building behind him. Michel was waiting for a friend upstairs, but began recording when and refused to prove he had a friend upstairs when Cukor confronted him.
In the video, Cukor’s young son is begging him to leave Michel alone.
“I agree with him, daddy,” he said. “Please, let’s go.”
Cukor ended the police call once he realized Michel was really with a resident of the building.
“My responsibility is not to make everyone around me feel comfortable, and it’s very important for people to understand that. I should be able to walk around freely and not feel that I should constantly prove that I’m not a threat to people around me,” Michel said in a CNN interview.
The video Michel posted on Facebook blew up, garnering over a million views in less than a week and generating a huge backlash against Cukor along the way.
“Now you’re online forever,” Michel told Cukor at the end of the video.
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Cukor, however, said the video didn’t tell the whole story. In a Medium blog post, Cukor wrote his perspective on the events and tried to give some context behind the incident. He wrote that Michel’s friend in the building was not expecting a visit from him and he called police when the “encounter turned confrontational.”
Cukor also said his “unique history” motivated him to contact police in the July 4 incident; his father, Peter, was brutally murdered outside his Berkeley hills home in 2012 by a trespasser. Cukor’s father confronted a mentally ill man who walked into his driveway.
Cukor’s father called police and they responded to the home, but they left when they determined no crime had been committed. After they left, the trespasser beat Cukor’s father to death with a flower pot in front of his wife.
“For my child’s safety, my safety and that of the building, I felt it was necessary to get help in this situation. Furthermore, I’ve encountered trespassers in my building and we’ve been robbed several times. This is not uncommon in San Francisco and the bad actors are all different colors,” Cukor wrote.
“I now realize that Wesly was reacting based on his unique history as well. Unfortunately there is a terrible pattern of people calling the authorities regarding people of color for no other reason than their race. The last thing I ever intended was to echo that history — and I’m sorry my actions caused Wesly to feel unfairly targeted due to his race.”
But Michel countered, saying that past experiences should never color how we see others.