Stanford Police Pulling Gun on Black Man on Campus Sparks Anger

A recent incident in which a white officer pulled a gun on a Black man on the Stanford University campus in California has generated anger on social media.

This past Saturday night, Jessica Stovall was taking a walk around the campus and listening to an audiobook when she heard the words "put your hands up" through her headphones, she wrote in a Twitter thread that has received millions of views.

Stovall, a Ph.D. student in the Race, Inequality and Language in Education program at the university's Graduate School of Education, said she then saw an officer draw his gun on a Black man who was sitting inside a car.

"There was an audience for a while, cell phones out, but once the police officer returned his gun to his holster, people slowly dissipated," Stovall wrote. "The Black man was released, and he started cussing out the officers, all of them white and looking dazed, especially the one who aimed his gun at him."

The incident comes amid heightened social tensions nationwide following last Friday's release of body camera footage that showed the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers following a traffic stop on January 7. Nichols died in a hospital three days later. Five Black officers have been fired and charged with his murder. Two other officers have been relieved of duty.

The Stanford Report, the university's communications portal, confirmed on Monday that an incident took place Saturday night during which "an officer unholstered his gun and pointed it at a car, driven by a Black individual."

The incident is under review by the Stanford Department of Public Safety (DPS), the post said.

The DPS said a Stanford deputy had stopped the car near the Escondido Village Graduate Residences because of an outstanding arrest warrant for DUI for the registered owner of the vehicle. During an earlier interaction with a deputy on patrol in the parking lot, the vehicle's driver had said he was a delivery driver, the post said.

"The officer who initiated the stop directed the driver to exit the vehicle and walk back to the officers," the post said.

"When the driver did not comply with the directions to exit the vehicle, another deputy unholstered his gun and pointed it in the direction of the vehicle." Another deputy also unholstered his firearm but kept it by his side, the post said.

The driver eventually exited the car, and the deputies holstered their weapons and placed him in handcuffs and into the back of a patrol car, the post said. They released the man after determining he was not the registered owner of the car.

A general view of Stanford University
Stanford University, including Hoover Tower, is pictured on November 26, 2022. This past weekend, a white officer reportedly pulled a gun on a Black man on campus. The incident is under review by the Stanford Department of Public Safety. David Madison/Getty Images

"DPS personnel are keenly aware of the concerns community members have about policing in the United States," Laura Wilson, the DPS director, said in a statement included in the post.

She continued: "We understand the level of distrust many persons have about the police, especially persons of color. The recent tragic death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of persons who were police officers emphasizes why distrust is warranted. The actions of those officers do not reflect the values and principles that DPS personnel endeavor to uphold."

In addition to the DPS review, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, which oversees sworn officers who work at Stanford, has been asked to review the incident, according to the post.

Stovall's Twitter thread drew particularly angry reactions to the incident.

"This weekend, a white police officer drew a gun on a young Black man on Stanford's campus. They did not arrest him," tweeted Madeline Morcelle, an attorney. "Black people shouldn't have to live & die like this. The police are a corrupt, violent, & white supremacist institution."

Jennifer Esteen, a nurse, wrote: "Rage is an appropriate response. Be outraged. Be angry. Be bothered."

In her thread, Stovall tweeted: "I refuse to normalize this type of behavior of cops. This man was never arrested, and yet, he had a gun drawn on him. Police interactions like this cannot go quietly into that dark night. This is the work, and we got work to do."

In another tweet about Saturday's incident, she wrote: "I can't help but think of all those with their cell phones out, waiting to see if they were to spectate the next public lynching. All this, right after the video release of Mr. Tyre Nichols's murder. Black folk aren't safe even on one of the most elite campuses in the world."

Stovall and Stanford University have been contacted by Newsweek for further comment.