Pennsylvania State Police Clear Themselves of Racial Profiling

In Pennsylvania, the officers involved in a traffic stop incident in July with Rodney Gillespie were cleared of having any racial bias.

  • This past Friday, bodycam footage from a Pennsylvania police encounter on July 8th was released. The video contained footage of Rodney Gillespie, head of a pharmaceutical company, his wife, and sleeping child being pulled over by police after a minor traffic infraction.
  • After briefly crossing over the center lines with no indication, officers turned on their lights and sirens to pull Gillespie over. Gillespie did not stop because he was scared of pulling over on an unlit road with no pedestrians in sight. Instead, he drove for a minute longer pulling into his home driveway where he was aggressively stopped and questioned by police. He was placed in handcuffs for several minutes before finally being given a traffic ticket.
  • Gillespie’s encounter caused him fear not only because of the continuous reoccurrence of police brutality that is shown in the media but also because when he expressed his fear one of the officers told him to stop his “black nonsense”.
  • The officers also used some questionable language asking him “who his “girlfriends” were” referring to his wife and sleeping daughter as well as informing him that he was being stopped because there was a lot of recent break-ins in the area. 
  • After conducting its own investigation, Pennsylvania police decided the complaint of bias-based profiling was not sustained. However, the investigation did find that two police regulations were broken (including microphones being turned off while on duty).
  • The statement released said officers broke “rules of conduct for employees” by their aggressive behavior. “While recognizing officer safety concerns existed, adjudicators nonetheless determined the troopers could have more effectively deescalated the situation upon making initial contact with Mr. Gillespie.”
  • Despite having received 32 complaints of racial bias since 2016, the department has cleared every single officer in that time of any wrongdoing.
  • Gillespie released a statement following the decision and released footage stating “As an African-American, as a man, trying to take care of his family, I felt like there was a little bit of …[police] trying to egg me on, emasculating me, right in front of my family. This has never been about me. It’s about making sure it doesn’t happen to others.

This incident occurred only a week after him and his family moved back to the U.S. after 6 years out of the country. Gillespie plans on suing the state police to hopefully change the experience of others while dealing with police in the future.