Teen Dancer Taken From Legal Guardian Alleges Racial Profiling - ABC 8NEWS - WRIC | Richmond, Virginia News & Weather

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Teen Dancer Taken From Legal Guardian Alleges Racial Profiling

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Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Hurd Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Hurd

By CHRISTINA NG | ABC News

HOUSTON (ABC)—A teenage Oklahoma hip hop dancer is still shaken after her dream trip to a Texas dance studio ended up with her in handcuffs and taken to Child Protective Services and her guardians in police custody.

"They had nothing on us," dance instructor Emmanuel Hurd told ABCNews.com. "Instead of going the route they should have went, they took her to CPS. The only reason someone gave me was we were black and Landry was white."

Landry Thompson, 13, has been dancing since she was 7. For the past few years, she has dreamed of traveling to Houston to dance with well-known hip hop dancer Chachi Gonzales at Planet Funk Academy.

Over the weekend, Thompson's parents, instructor and dance partner made her dream come true. Landry flew to Houston from her Tulsa, Okla., home on Saturday and met up with Hurd, 29, and her dance partner Josiah Kelly, 22.

The three spent the day at the dance academy and taking part in a video shoot. After wrapping and dinner, the exhausted trio stopped at a gas station around 3 a.m. to program their GPS to find their hotel, according to Hurd. He dozed off and awoke to find their car surrounded by police.

"Everything was going amazing. It was a beautiful day .... and then everything went bad," Hurd told ABCNews.com today.

Hurd and Kelly were pulled out of the car and police told them not to worry, they weren't be arrested, just detained, Hurd said.

Hurd had forms from Landry's mother making him her guardian for the duration of the trip, her birth certificate and her insurance card, among other forms, which he said he tried to tell the officers.

"[The officer] puts the handcuffs on very, very tight [and] throws me in the back and does the same to Josiah," Hurd said. "All the while I'm looking at Landry. She's terrified."

Landry, still in the car, said she called her mother.

"I was crying. I tried to put the police on the phone with my mom and they said they didn't want to," she told ABCNews.com.

The teen said she was terrified and that the cops didn't believe she was giving them her real name, since she wasn't on the runaway list.

Landry's mom, Destiny Thompson, said she wasn't surprised by the late-night call because rehearsals often go late into the night, but could tell something was wrong when she heard the commotion in the background and her daughter's upset voice.

A police officer eventually took Landry's phone and spoke to her mother.

"He got on the phone and he said, 'Are you aware your daughter is in Houston, Texas, with two black men?' And I said, 'Yes, I am aware of that,'" Destiny Thompson told ABCNews.com. "Then he started mumbling stuff about my parenting, why I would let her do that and then he proceeded to tell me the people she was with were intoxicated or on something."

"There's no possible way these men were intoxicated, that's not how they live," the mom said. "I knew right then I had some trouble."

"[Hurd] is somebody we know well," she said. "His wife and kids spent the night at my house last night. These are not people that we kind of know. These are close family friends that we trust explicitly with our children. They just happen to be black."

Hurd said he begged officers from the back of the police car to listen to him. He said one officer said to him, "Sir, you've got to understand, you two men are black and she's white."

Hurd said he understood the caution, but thought the officers' actions were unnecessary after speaking to Landry's mother and seeing the documentation they had with them.

Landry was handcuffed and put in the back of a car. Police eventually let Hurd and Kelly go, but put Landry in Child Protective Services custody.

Landry was released back to them at around 11:30 a.m. after Thompson said she contacted Tulsa police for help.

The Houston Police Department said in a statement that patrol officers spotted the car in front of the gas station at about 3:20 a.m. on Sunday and that the two adult men and the juvenile female were sleeping in the car.

"Given the age discrepancies between all involved, the fact that all three were from out of state, and the child had no relatives in the area, officers, in an abundance of caution, did their utmost to ensure her safety," the statement said. "In this instance, that involved further investigation by CPS."

The police department declined to answer additional questions about the incident.

Thompson and Hurd both believe race played a part in the situation.

"Racial profiling right now is really bad in America," Hurd said.

He mentioned Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed in Florida, but didn't want to talk specifically about that case since he said it's hard to know what really happened.

"What I do know is that he is not alive to speak out about it. He's not alive to say his side, but we are so we are definitely speaking out. We're definitely going to continue to speaking out about this situation because it hasn't stopped and it needs to."

Destiny Thompson said she has an attorney and Hurd said they are exploring taking legal action.

Landry said she was very scared and said she "definitely" thinks race played a role in what happened.

"I don't think that should have mattered at all," she said.

 

Copyright 2013 by ABC News

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