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Black campaign worker arrested in Iowa after refusing to talk to police (videos)

This news story was published on November 14, 2018.
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Screenshot of body cam video of African-American man arrested by police while campaigning in West Des Moines.

WEST DES MOINES – Police in West Des Moines today attempted to explain how late in October, a black campaign worker was stopped, detained and frisked by police after he refused to tell an officer his name and answer other questions after an alleged complaint was called in.

The African-American man, 24-year-old Keilon Hill of Louisiana, was charged with harassment for not fully cooperating with officers and reportedly awaits a court date and has a lawyer representing him.

Video body cam footage was also released by police (see end of story) along with an explanation of the incident:

The West Des Moines Police Department today released the body worn camera recording of an arrest made October 29, 2018. A resident called police to report a man was suspicious in the neighborhood because he was taking pictures of houses, had papers in his hands, was not approaching houses and was leaning on a mailbox. The caller described the suspicious person’s clothing, sex, and race. Officer Ray responded to this call for service and arrived moments later.

Officer Ray was in duty uniform and arrived in a marked patrol car. Nearby, he found the suspicious person as described by the caller. Officer Ray approached him, identified himself as a police officer and explained why he was speaking to Hill. Hill concealed the papers he had been holding under his coat. At that time, Officer Ray did not know why Hill was in the area. West Des Moines city ordinance requires solicitors to have a permit and Officer Ray tried to assess if Hill was soliciting in violation of that ordinance.

Hill refused to answer Officer Ray’s questions and started walking away. Officer Ray told Hill to stop several times and Hill refused. Officer Ray repeatedly instructed Hill to stop and tried to explain why the conversation was occurring. Eventually, Officer Ray arrested Hill and charged him with Harassment of a Public Official which reads, “Any person who willfully prevents or attempts to prevent any public officer or employee from performing the officer’s or employee’s duty commits a simple misdemeanor.” Officer Ray did have a body worn camera which recorded this interaction.

On November 12th at approximately 12:00 PM information was released to the media with a cell phone video of the incident. As a result, it appears in that video and information release that Officer Ray stopped Mr. Hill for no reason, labelled him as suspicious, and ultimately arrested him for failing to provide Officer Ray with some personal information.

Our department is extremely sensitive to all issues surrounding racial and bias based policing. As such, as a department we have attended several trainings in the past and will continue to attend bias based policing in the future. We have a biased base policing policy that will not tolerate any action based on race. Most recently we have set up a system to monitor and warn of any potential racially based policing action. If we review and suspect or determine racial bias in our services, our department will take immediate action to the level expected of our officers.

Our department has participated in various activities in our community and in the metro to be a part of the conversations of racial concerns. We have met with community leaders and various groups to discuss our current relationships and how we can partner together to continue to build on what has been established.

Our community, all of our community, is important to us and we will make every effort to provide fair and impartial services. We have and will continue to build relationships between the police department and the community we serve.

Our policy does not allow us to release video of cases that are pending court proceedings. However, our city council’s Public Safety Committee members have expressed to the Chief of Police their interest in releasing the video to show all the facts surrounding the arrest of Mr. Hill. Today, the Chief of Police is releasing the entire recorded incident of that interaction. This is not a new precedent or change in policy, it is a request by Council with the support of the police department.

We ask our community to view the video with an open mind and to understand all the facts. We ask that you understand our stance on race related policing. And last, we ask for conversation that will unify our city as one community.

According to members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, “a grassroots social justice organization”:

On Monday, October 29, 2018 at approximately 3:00 p.m., Keilon Hill was door canvassing for Rep. David Young. Mr. Hill, a resident of southern Louisiana, was employed by a super PAC working on behalf of Young. After Mr. Hill interviewed a resident, he sat down on a rock next to the sidewalk to write his notes, with his campaign pamphlets beside him.

Officer Clint Ray with the West Des Moines Police Department pulled up as Mr. Hill was writing his notes. Officer Ray approached Mr. Hill and asked what he was doing around here. Officer Ray then began to tell Mr. Hill that he was soliciting. Mr. Hill explained to Officer Ray that he was not soliciting anything because he was not offering any services or selling any goods. At that point, Mr. Hill declined the interview and told Officer Ray he was going on his way. Mr. Hill was in possession of campaign materials and was clearly out canvassing.

Officer Ray followed Mr. Hill as he walked away and demanded he identify himself. Officer Ray repeated that Mr. Hill was a suspicious person. Mr. Hill asked repeatedly what crime he had committed, and Officer Ray could not provide a response. Mr. Hill declined to speak with Officer Ray further because he knew Iowa law does not require a person to identify themselves unless there is reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot, and Mr. Hill was not up to anything illegal.

Because Mr. Hill declined to speak with him, Officer Ray arrested Mr. Hill for violating Iowa Code § 718.4. That statute makes it illegal to willfully prevent an officer from performing the officer’s duty. But the United States Supreme Court has held a person “may not be detained even momentarily without reasonable, objective grounds for doing so; and his refusal to listen or answer does not, without more, furnish those grounds.” Fla. v. Royer, 103 S. Ct. 1319, 1324 (1983). In other words, it is not illegal to refuse to interact with law enforcement when there is no reason for law enforcement to think that you’re doing something wrong.

The group also released cell phone video footage of a Monday, October 29, 2018 interaction between West Des Moines Officer Clint Ray and political canvasser, Keilon Hill:

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13 Responses to Black campaign worker arrested in Iowa after refusing to talk to police (videos)

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    October 21, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    If you cant identify yourself to an officer of the law in the United States of America then you are a suspicious person.

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 18, 2018 at 8:06 am

    A black person blamed their failure on racism? No way!!

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 17, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    DM police are jerks my cousin was pulled over guns drawn on him. knocked over and handcuffed. Someone had robbed a store not far from there. After a while they un cuffed him and told him he could go. Never said sorry or anything. I told him he should of sued them. By the way He is white not black so it was not race issue. They are just a bad police force.

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I think the young man should have told the officer his name but this was the 2nd time it happened to him so I also understand his anger. Did the officer ever ask him why he was in the neighborhood? No. That might have solved this entire incident. The other thing wrong with this scenario is that we have another person (presumably white) calling in a “suspicious” black person in their neighborhood. Would that person have called in on a white person dressed the same way? I don’t know. The other interesting thing about this is that he was campaigning for a Republican. Bet he gets off.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 17, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Did you watch the body cam video? The Officer tried very hard to get through to Mr. Hill, but was interrupted over and over. Clearly, Mr. Hill has been taught to show no respect for LE. Instead, an entitled attitude on full display. I am glad the body cam showed what happened very clearly.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        November 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm

        I watched it. Simple solution – ask why he is there.

        • Anonymous Reply Report comment

          November 20, 2018 at 5:49 am

          Well, if you watched it, there’s not much excuse for you missing what really happened. The cop tried and tried to explain the situation, but was interrupted over and over again. Every time Mr. Hill interrupted the cop, he had opportunity to explain what he was doing there, but instead, chose a disrespectful, defiant and profanity-laced response.

          If you claim that the homeowners that called in to the police had no reason to be suspicious of Mr. Hill, then you are operating in a fantasy-based world.

  5. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 16, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Iowa is NOT a stop and ID state. Don’t give up your rights that our brothers and sisters died for. A badge doesn’t grant special privileges.

  6. Duke Reply Report comment

    November 15, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Officer was in the right this kid need to learn his place and show respect

  7. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 15, 2018 at 9:51 am

    I bet they stuff you and cuff you 10 times quicker ! Ya all know what the old race card is by now.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 16, 2018 at 5:40 pm

      Funny how black people call white people every name in the book, And then say our president is racist. Black people this black people that. Whites are racist! Racist this racist that! Who is really the racist?

  8. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    November 14, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Next time I’m interacting with police I’m going to refuse to identify myself. I bet they treat me the same and I’m white.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      November 19, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      And then you can file a complaint. In Iowa, Leo’s need a reason to stop and ask for ID. Being black in a white neighborhood is not cause. The Leo is in the wrong.

      However, I always cooperate because I am afraid that a trigger happy Leo will shoot me if I don’t—not because they are in the right.