Guilty Of Being Black

When David Smith was driving down a road in Carmel, Indiana, two years ago everything was going his way, CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.

That is until he came to an intersection, made a left turn, and saw a policeman in his rear view mirror. "The red lights came on behind me," Smith recalled.

He knew he had done nothing wrong, but the officer pulled him over anyway. "I think he saw a black male entering a predominantly white subdivision and he wanted to know what I was doing," Smith said.

It was also Smith's subdivision. He was headed home to the life he'd always wanted. A good neighborhood. Good friends. A good job. He felt like he belonged here. "And during that stop all the things that I had dreamed about were just stripped away in a matter of seconds," he said.

Smith said the officer told him he pulled him over because there were three antennas on the back of Smith's car. Smith was driving an unmarked police car because he's an Indiana State trooper. In fact, he's a sergeant with 15 years experience. "I just felt if this happened to me, then who else is it happening to?" Smith said.

Smith was never charged with anything, but he decided to sue anyway, and in the process learned a lot about Carmel, Indiana.

It turns out the Carmel Police Department had a reputation for pulling over cars if the officers thought the drivers didn't belong. The charge was they focused on people in old cars, young people and frequently black people.

In fact, one local company issued car tags to its employees, many of whom are minorities from nearby Indianapolis. A company newsletter told the workers if police cannot identify their cars, "They may deem it curious or suspicious and stop you."

"That was a bad policy," said Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard

It happened just before Brainard took office.

"Go back to World War II. Jews were required to wear stars on their clothing," Brainard said. "This is close to that, and it s not right. It should never have been done."

The city never admitted any wrongdoing, but it settled with Smith out of court. He got some money and the city also agreed to install video cameras in all its police cars to tape all traffic stops.

While the video cameras keep an eye on the Carmel police officers, so does David Smith. "You know, my feelings, my thoughts have changed. And for those reasons I'm careful when I leave my driveway," Smith said.

He spends a lot more time now looking over his shoulder at officers he used to count on to watch his back.


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