HPD responds to accusations of racial profiling with Oklahoma teen, dancers


by Shern-min Chow / KHOU 11 News


Posted on December 2, 2013 at 11:51 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 3 at 7:53 PM

HOUSTON – The Houston Police Department is responding to charges of racial profiling after handcuffing a teenage white girl and removing her from the care of two black men.

Officers took the young dancer to Child Protective Services even though she was right where her mother wanted her to be.

Click on Youtube and you will see a new rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with 13-year-old Landry Thompson, her instructor, 29-year-old Emmanuel Hurd and her dance partner, 22-year-old Josiah Kelly. They travelled from Tulsa to Houston, to work with hip-hop artists at Planet Funk Academy and tape a video.

After a long day of rehearsals, on Sunday at 3 a.m., they stopped at a gas station near Memorial Park. That’s when Houston police pulled them all out, handcuffed them and put them into patrol cars.

“They were convinced I was a runaway,” Landry said.

Police then called Landry’s parents in Oklahoma, who were surprised by the officer’s tone. Destiny Thompson recalled the conversation.

“’Are you aware your daughter is with two black men?’ When I said ‘Yes, I’m aware of that,’ he called into questioning our parenting,” the mother said.

Landry is home schooled and travels frequently for dance. The Thompsons asked Hurd to look after their daughter on this trip. Realizing the group made an unlikely trio, they packed a raft of documents.

“Emmanuel had a letter signed by us, had every contact number they could’ve possibly needed, he had her insurance card, he had her original birth certificate, not a copy,” the mother said.

The couple even scanned their driver’s licenses and faxed them to police during all this. The Houston police officers did not believe the parents or the men.

Kelly even said, “Sir, I will dance for you right now.”

In a statement, HPD said, “Given the age discrepancies...and the child had no relatives in the area, officers in an abundance of caution, did their utmost to ensure her safety” and sent her to CPS.

The Thompsons, Hurd and Kelly believe this is a case of racial profiling. They understand why HPD questioned them, but are upset they were not released after seeing all the paperwork, speaking to Landry’s parents and reportedly getting a call from police in Oklahoma.

Hurd said he and Kelly are considering legal action.

The instructor and dance partner ended up following Landry to a CPS facility on Chimney Rock.

When they were told to leave the reception area, the men waited in their car for about six hours outside the front door, until Landry was finally released around 11:30 a.m.