by Madeline Purdue and Karolina Rivas
The University of Nevada, Reno’s, Police Services is launching an investigation after an officer was captured on body camera footage Sunday joking with a black male student that he is “just going to shoot him if things go sideways.”
The incident occurred after a group of students were pulled over by university officers in front of the Lawlor Events Center around 1 a.m. After engaging in conversation, an officer made the comment to graduate student Kevin McReynolds.
McReynolds reported the incident later that morning to police services.
“What offended me the most is the fact that yesterday [Monday, Sept. 25] I didn’t get a call from anyone, I reached out to the police in the morning, they kind of blew it off,” McReynolds said. “I called Title IX in the morning, they blew it off. […] I didn’t feel the university took the issue seriously until the video came out. I think that’s where the issue lies.”
In a statement released Wednesday, four days after the incident, Assistant Vice President and Director of Police Services Adam Garcia said one officer involved in the incident has been placed on administrative leave and removed from campus, pending an investigation by the University Police Services and the Title IX office.
In that statement, Garcia expressed his concern over the situation.
“I have seen the video and I find the language that was used to be disturbing, offensive and unacceptable,” Garcia said in the statement. “I condemn this reprehensible language, and again, offer my sincerest apologies to the graduate student for what occurred. I am deeply concerned about the distress that was placed on the graduate student.”
Garcia and President Marc Johnson both called McReynolds to apologize for the comments. Garcia said McReynolds was “brave” to come forward about the incident.
Johnson also released a statement on Wednesday.
“The safety and well-being of our entire campus community is my most important concern as president; and in this particular incident, I continue to be concerned for the young man who was affected,” Johnson said in the statement. “This type of abhorrent language contradicts in every way our values as an institution.”
Police services released the bodycam footage “in an effort to be open and transparent”.
McReynolds said he does not want the story to be about him, but about diversity and inclusion at the university.
“As I look around this campus, there’s a lack of diversity as far as faculty,” McReynolds said. “There’s a lack of diversity as far as African Americans or people who are just different skin colors on this campus. You take athletes out of the community. There’s very few left. […] I think that’s an issue that the university has to look at. I think that if this allows me to open another dialogue on campus that ‘Hey, something needs to change’ then I think that’s important.”
This is a developing story. Check back with the Nevada Sagebrush for more updates.
Madeline Purdue and Karolina Rivas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.