The video of the incident went viral.
Some students felt it was an example of police racial bias Watch video Altaif Hassan, one of two black students detained at gunpoint at Rowan University Oct.
1, said he realized the whole ordeal was set in motion when a bystander mistook his black case for his eyeglasses for a gun.
The bystander told police in the T-mobile store in Collegetown Shopping Center that he saw a black man with "poofy hair" come out of another store holding a black handgun and drive away in a Dodge Charger.
Hassan, 21, a biology major, said he was picking up his glasses from Accent on Eyes in the plaza with his passenger, Giavanna Roberson, 18, a nursing student, and then drove her back to campus.
"I got my glasses, came out, normal, nothing out of the ordinary and get in my car," he said in an interview.
"So I'm driving, I see the two cop cars.
They're in the T-mobile (store) door.
I'm minding my business -- that has nothing to do with me so I don't really pay much attention to it." But police followed his car into a parking lot in the middle of campus, ordered the pair out at gunpoint, handcuffed them and put them in cruisers as students stopped and recorded the incident. They were released after approximately 35 minutes, according to body-camera footage, when police determined there was no gun in the car.
Then video of the incident went viral.
Some students objected to the way police handled the event and felt it was an example of racial bias, and the university held a town hall meeting on the topic Friday.
Rowan really on some shit pic.twitter.com/oRblQC87WE -- stefan (@_StefanHenry) October 1, 2018 Glassboro police have not returned repeated calls for comment, but Police Chief Franklin S.
said in a Facebook post that officers were following protocol given the report of a gun.
The body-camera footage also shows that the officer who took the initial report at the shopping center relayed inaccurate information to responding officers.
Two officers were investigating an unrelated shoplifting at the T-mobile store when the bystander came in and said, "Officer, see that Charger right there? He just came out of a store with a gun in his hand," according to the video.
One of the officers immediately radios for backup, saying, "A man just came into the store saying he pointed a gun at him and took off." The bystander never said he pointed a weapon at him.
The bystander later said that the man had pointed a gun at the Dodge Charger before getting inside.
Hassan told NJ Advance Media that he didn't make any gestures as he left the store, to the best of his recollection.
Roberson, questioned by police while she was in the cruiser, also said she didn't remember him making any gestures or pointing anything.
But the bystander said he was "1,000 percent" sure it was a gun and said it seemed brazen.
"What did he think was going to happen? Even if it is a fake gun?" the man says to the officer in the video.
"With all due respect, I'm not prejudiced but a black guy in a racing car parked in front of -- not even parked there, but parked here so he could take off." He also told police he was "that guy" that reports stuff to the authorities, and mentioned that he called the FBI to identify one of the 9/11 conspirators after recognizing him on TV.
The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office is investigating the incident.
Asked whether authorities believed the bystander had mistaken the eyeglasses case as a gun, a spokesman for the office said he couldn't comment on it because the office was still in the beginning stages of the review.
Gilbert, the prosecutor's spokesman and chief of staff, did say that investigators would be reviewing surveillance video from the shopping center.
"We want to get our hands on every single piece of information available to us," he said. Roberson and Hassan said they were traumatized by the incident, and Hassan still hasn't gone back to class. The body camera footage of the incident shows Hassan, upset while he is cuffed in the cruiser, saying that Glassboro police are always stopping him for no reason and that he believed, as he backed away from his vehicle with his hands in the air, that his life was in danger with all the guns pointed at him.
"If I had of sneezed the wrong way you would have shot the sh-- out of me," Hassan says to an officer.
Rebecca Everett may be reached at email@example.com.
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