As Darren Martin was moving his belongings into his apartment in New York City late on a Friday night, a neighbor was reporting a “burglary in process,” according to PIX 11.
A former aide in the White House during the Obama administration, Martin had secured a job working for the city and an apartment on the Upper West Side, Newsweek reported. He’d planned on moving in earlier but work pushed his plans to 11 p.m.
Martin, a black man, said on Twitter he had made his way down to the lobby when he was confronted with several police officers who “meant business.” He says they demanded that he let them into the building. And he soon found out that the officers were there to “investigate” a reported breaking and entering with a weapon, Martin said.
Martin’s live video of the incident shows one of the officers holding a two-way radio and listening to the dispatcher describe the call. “Somebody was trying to break in the door” with a “possible weapon” described as a “large tool,” the dispatcher said, PIX 11 reported.
“There are fewer moments less dignifying, than at the scene when the police and witnesses assess you to determine if you committed this crime or perceived crime — when you know you didn't,” Martin said.
Officers eventually determined Martin wasn’t breaking into his own home, Newsweek reported. But Martin told the publication the situation could have been life-threatening.
Martin doesn’t fault the police for “doing their jobs,” but he took aim at the caller.
"I think someone made a very dangerous assumption," Martin told Newsweek. "Police are responding to a call for an armed robbery, so they're going to come in full force," he said.
He noted that his skin color, coupled with his presence in a gentrifying neighborhood, were factors that led to the police being called, PIX 11 reported.
“I have to say I found it kinda symbolic,” he said. "[It’s] like welcome to the neighborhood.”
Martin, who hasn’t received an apology from the neighbor, told Newsweek he plans to stay at the apartment. The NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information's office said it would look into the incident.
The incident puts Martin in the company of men including Henry Louis Gates Jr., a prominent black scholar and Harvard University professor who was arrested at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home after trying to force open his locked front door in 2009, the Washington Post reported. President Obama said at the time that police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates, CNN reported.