US police officer filmed pulling gun on black college rubbish collector resigns

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver

A police officer who was criticised after pulling a gun on a college student picking up rubbish outside his home in March has resigned after being investigated for the incident.

Zayd Atkinson, a student at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, was picking up garbage outside of his residence when officer John Smyly approached.

Mr Smyly attempted to detain Mr Atkinson, and asked for proof that Mr Atkinson lived on the property. When Mr Atkinson, a black student, produced his student identification card to the white officer demanded further proof.

Mr Atkinson said he felt racially profiled by the incident.

Body camera footage indicates Mr Atkinson responded “I’m a student, I live here ... I’m doing my job”, and continued to collect garbage. The officer then called for back-up, leading to eight officers surrounding the college student.

Mr Smyly said that the student, who was black, was “probably going to get tased”. The officer proceeded to pull out his gun, citing that the trash clamp could be used as a weapon.

“You’re on my property with a gun in your hand, threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash,” Mr Atkinson said during the altercation.

“I don’t have a weapon. This is a bucket. This is a clamp.”

The report released with the body camera footage noted the officer did not have authority to detain Mr Atkinson, or probable cause to charge him with any crime. An internal investigation indicated that Mr Smyly had violated two department policies on public trust and conduct, but it was not proven that the incident was racially motivated.

Mr Smyly resigned from his position under a settlement that allows him to remain on the department payroll until February of 2020, earning benefits, holiday time, and a salary, as reported by BBC.