HOUSTON – Houston mayor Annise Parker apologized Wednesday to father held at gunpoint during a Houston Police Department traffic stop.
Eddie Bradley said he wouldn’t have complained, if only one of the officers had apologized.
“But none of that happened,” he said. “And if that would’ve happened I probably wouldn’t have gone down to city council this morning.”
Bradley drove to downtown Houston to tell the mayor and the city council a disturbing story that had some of the city’s top elected officials issuing public apologies, even though none of them seemed sure whether the police officers involved did anything wrong.
“I offer an apology that you have to be caught up in something that had nothing to do with you,” Mayor Annise Parker told him.
It all started when Bradley was driving along the East Freeway earlier this month, taking his three sons back to his ex-wife.
“I had my kids in the car, my boys,” he said. “Their ages are 17, 16 and 11. I was getting ready to take them home for the holidays.”
Somewhere around the Market Street exit, he said he noticed police cars starting to surround him. The officers apparently thought his truck looked like one used in a felony that was committed in the same area, the mayor said.
“I immediately pulled over to the shoulder right there,” Bradley said, as he drove along the freeway and described what happened.
The officers not only pulled him over, he said, they also stopped traffic, ordered him out of his truck, pointed their guns at him and told him to get down on the pavement.
“And they tell me to lay down on the freeway spread eagle,” he remembered. “And I looked up at them telling them, ‘That’s my kids!’ I seen my oldest son getting out of the car and I’m telling them, ‘That’s my kids!’”
The officers ordered him to get up and spread his arms against a patrol car, he said, then handcuffed him and placed him in the car. His teenage sons were also cuffed and put in separate cars, he said.
The police cars moved to a nearby parking lot, Bradley said. Eventually, they determined he wasn’t their suspect and they let him and his family go free, he said.
Of course, the incident upset him and his sons, but Bradley said he was especially bothered that none of the officers adequately explained what had happened, or apologized for the frightening confusion.
“I would have liked for them to have acknowledged me and my kids right there and said, ‘Yes, we was looking for someone that had committed a crime and we thought that was you but it wasn’t. And we are terribly, terribly sorry,’” Bradley said.
He filed a complaint with the Houston Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, and then signed up to speak at a city council meeting. A number of council members offered apologies, although they pointed out that the officers apparently mistook him for a dangerous felon. One of the council members, Melissa Noriega, choked up when she spoke about the impression the incident left on Bradley’s teenaged sons.
One of the two former officers on city council, former HPD chief Clarence Bradford, said the officers at the scene owed Bradley and his sons an explanation.
“Why not a field supervisor approach you at the end (and say) ‘Mr. Bradley, this is what happened, we apologize for what occurred, but understand this is what we thought was going on,’” the former chief said. “That could have happened.”
“Only thing I can picture when I see a police car now,” Bradley said, “Is all them officers with their weapons pointed at me and my boys and me laying down on I-10 East Freeway.”
The mayor said Bradley has been invited to participate in a mediation program that may lead to him meeting with the officers involved and discussing what happened.