A Black woman in Raleigh, North Carolina, who found two white burglars in her home, is lashing out at the police who responded to the scene and allegedly showed a nonchalant approach to the situation.
According to ABC 11, Shanay Porter made the call to police after coming home and finding the perpetrators, who were lounging in her living room, eating her food and wearing her ex-boyfriend’s clothes.
“When I put my key in the door, it was open,” Porter told the news station. “I just looked at him and said, ‘who are you?’ And he started coming toward me and I hurried up and closed the door. I didn’t know what to think or what to say. I was so speechless. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Shanay Porter came home to two burglars in her Raleigh apartment this week. Tonight, she tells us, because the intruders were white the incident was downplayed by police. #abc11 AT 11 pic.twitter.com/Q8EyOADuUz
— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) February 6, 2021
The Raleigh resident and her neighbors, who watched the officers’ reaction with the two white men, said there was a lack of urgency from the police.
“I called police for help and the officers talk to them like they’re good people — they just broke into my house,” the woman said. “If I was a white woman and I called and said it was two Black intruders in my house, I feel like they would’ve had them out of my house immediately.”
One neighbor recorded video of the officers’ interaction with the caller.
“What I don’t understand is why these two men are still in my house?” Porter is heard saying in the video.
Responding to the woman, one officer said “well, right now we’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”
Neighbors tried to advocate for Porter as she struggled to understand what the police were trying to do.
“She is a victim and I want to see her treated as a victim,” one person said. “There is a foreign man in her home.”
Police proceeded to explain why the burglars remained inside after deputies arrived.
“You have to understand. That’s why we have them detained in there ma’am,” an officer said. “At this point in time what’s safest for us and every single person out here is to deal with them in that situation; detain them and bring them out afterward.”
The neighbor again demanded swift action from the police, saying “Get them detained outside. You can detain them outside.”
Police eventually arrested 35-year-old Charles Merry and 45-year-old Brian Capell, charging them with breaking and entering.
“The two men in this incident were arrested. This is a criminal investigation,” police said in a statement. “The Raleigh Police Department is reviewing the actions of the officers internally to ensure that policy and procedure were followed.”
But Porter is still furious.
“I don’t even feel safe with calling the police anymore,” she said. “Because it’s like you never know.”
A GoFundMe with the goal of $5000 has been set up to help Porter replace her damaged things.
https://t.co/S1cDbsTEMQ she has a go fund me to try and renew everything that was damaged !!! PLEASE YALL HELP HER ! ❤️❤️❤️ anything will be a blessing !!
— Essence 💖 (@fine_essence) February 8, 2021
Alexander Weiss, a staffing expert who has helped reform police departments in several cities around the country, said many minority communities are refusing to call officers when they need help, particularly showing a mistrust in law enforcement after last year’s highly publicized incidents of police brutality. According to USA Today, Weiss led a study in Baltimore, Maryland, which concluded that white, affluent areas of the city called officers more than twice as much as neighborhoods populated by minority groups.
“It’s one of the biggest challenges here,” the researcher said.
Avatara Smith-Carrington, a law fellow at Lambda Legal, a New York-based organization that supports LGBTQ rights, said widespread harassment and discrimination still exists at the hands of police. Smith-Carrington added that many Black and brown people, particularly those in the LGBTQ community, are afraid to report crimes because they have fear of being harassed themselves.