Beaverton man claims long history of racial profiling by police

Reggie Liggins and his wife Julie. (KATU Photo)

A Beaverton man claims he was racially profiled by police last week.

Reggie Liggins was on his way home Thursday night. He boarded a bus at the Beaverton Transit Center around 6:40 p.m. Moments later, a Beaverton police officer stopped the bus and got on board to question Reggie.

"It was like, here we go again," said Liggins. "I ain't never had a bus stopped before, though -- that was a new one for me."

Beaverton police say a robbery was reported Thursday night near Canyon Road and Southwest 117th Avenue. They say the suspect was a black man wearing a black or blue and white stocking cap or beanie and witnesses saw the man running toward the transit center. Police say Liggins was also wearing a similar hat and an officer saw him get on board a bus. According to police, the officer stopped the bus, questioned Liggins and quickly determined he was not involved in the crime.

Liggins calls the explanation reasonable, but he and his wife say it's just the latest incident in a long history of racial profiling.

"This is our day-to-day life," said Reggie's wife, Julie Liggins, who is white. "We live in a beautiful neighborhood in Beaverton. If he's walking, he's stopped by police and asked for his ID, 'Why are you in the neighborhood, where are you going, where are you coming from?'"

The couple says their three kids have also experienced racial profiling.

"It just needs to stop," said Reggie Liggins. "I don't know how many more generations will have to put up with this kind of stuff."

The couple was part of a rally and march against racial injustice Monday night. About two dozen people gathered near the Beaverton Library and then marched to the police department.

Beaverton police released the following statement regarding the incident with Reggie Liggins.

At 6:41 pm on February 1st, a 911 call was placed to report the theft of a wallet at a business near Canyon Road and SW 117th Avenue. The location where the theft occurred is less than a quarter mile east of Beaverton Transit Center. The caller and a witness reported to 911 that a black man, wearing a black or blue and white stocking cap/beanie, stole a wallet out of a customer's hands (a Felony-level person crime) and ran west from the location, towards the Beaverton Transit Center. Around 6:45 pm, a Beaverton Police Officer saw Mr. Liggins, wearing a black and silver stocking cap/beanie, get in a bus at Beaverton Transit Center. Before the officer could contact the driver of the bus, it left the Transit Center. With the information available to the officer at the time, the male seen getting in the bus could have been the theft suspect based on the following reasons: 1.) The suspect was last seen running in the direction of the Transit Center, 2.) Only a few minutes had elapsed from the time the 911 call was made, 3.) The suspect could have made it to the Transit Center in that timeframe, 4.) Criminals often try to get out of the area of their crime as quickly as possible and boarding a bus would have allowed the suspect to escape capture, 5.) The male seen getting on the bus matched the description given, in that he was a black male wearing a black and silver stocking cap. After the officer stopped the bus and spoke with Mr. Liggins, he quickly determined, in less than a minute, Mr. Liggins was not involved in the crime. The officer exited the bus and Mr. Liggins continued on his way.

The Beaverton Police Department is committed to providing excellent service to all members of the community and takes seriously all accusations of officer misconduct. Though Mr. Liggins has not filed an official complaint, the Department's policy is to fully investigate any allegation of misconduct by one of its officers. The Department will investigate Mr. Liggins' claim to determine if the officer's actions were within policy.

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