Northern Virginia man says Arlington police racially profiled him

A Black Northern Virginia man says he was the subject of racial profiling after a white neighbor questioned why he was sitting in his car in an Arlington neighborhood.

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Police were called to the scene – and now the man has filed a complaint with the department.

Marlon Crutchfield talked to FOX 5’s Evan Lambert Monday evening.

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He says – above all – he’s embarrassed, but also angry.

That’s why he posted part of his response on Facebook.

He says this all came about because it appears a neighbor had a problem with him being in the neighborhood.

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In the video, Crutchfield tells police their response to the scene is racist.

"It is very racist and you should know better," he said.

Crutchfield says the incident happened on Dec. 21.

A real estate agent and photographer, Crutchfield was scheduled to photograph a home in an Arlington neighborhood.

While he was in his car, he says a white man asked if he could help him.

He said no, he was fine and then the police showed up, asking to interview him and to see his identification.

Crutchfield told FOX 5 that he’s a former U.S. Capitol police officer and a veteran.

Police say whoever called them told them Crutchfield was taking photos of the entrance to a nearby military base – which he says isn’t true.

"It was embarrassing. I felt anger and frustration because I knew that I hadn't done anything to warrant this response from Arlington County and the MPs and I felt sorry for the sellers at the house that I was at because here I am bringing four patrol cars to their house and they're trying to list their house. This is unwarranted attention, trust me," Crutchfield said.

Crutchfield says he demanded that police tell him what he’d done to warrant the response from law enforcement.

"What crime was committed? What am I suspected of and he couldn't answer any of those questions. So why would I give my ID? To be detained. I'm working," Crutchfield said.

Arlington police say it’s their responsibility to respond to such complaints. They acknowledged no crime had been committed and said the entire interaction was over in about four minutes.

Police released the following statement to FOX 5: 

"The Police Department is aware of the video posted to Facebook, showing an interaction between officers and a person which was filmed during a call for service on December 21, 2020. Above all else, the Arlington County Police Department is committed to the principle that all individuals will be treated with dignity and respect. We strictly adhere to the protections afforded by the Constitution to assure everyone‘s rights are safeguarded, and we take our responsibility to protect our diverse and inclusive community willingly and without reservation. The information below provides a summary of the dispatched call for service.  

At approximately 10:35 a.m. on December 21, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person and vehicle in the area of Southgate Road and South Orme Street. The reporting party advised that the male subject had been taking photos of the Southgate entrance to Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall. The reporting party provided additional information that the subject had left the area of the entrance and entered a nearby residence. Officers made contact with the subject, explained the reason for the call for service, and spoke briefly with the individual.

The Department recognizes community concerns when investigating calls for service involving suspicious persons, vehicles, and activity. In order to ensure public safety within our community, officers have a duty to respond to dispatched calls for service and fully investigate the circumstances surrounding them.  We appreciate that what constitutes suspicious behavior can be ambiguous, but we must work together to ensure police are notified of suspicious behaviors that could represent a threat to our community, while at the same time ensuring that the focus remains on the behaviors of a person and nothing else.  We are committed to continuing to work collaboratively with the Arlington community to ensure we remain one of the safest communities in the Country. 
While the behaviors described to ACPD were considered suspicious in nature given all of the circumstances, it was determined that no local crime had been committed, officers cleared the call without taking further action, and the entire interaction with the individual lasted under four minutes."