She Was Grateful For A Cop’s Courtesy, But Even She Was Surprised By Her Emotional Reaction To Being Stopped

"The sad piece is that I shouldn’t have had to feel this scared."

When Ayanna Reid Cruver, a Black woman living in Louisiana, was pulled over by a police officer on June 1, her first reaction was to feel incredibly fearful because she knew she'd done nothing wrong. Cruver's heartbreaking response speaks to a major problem that exists between citizens (particularly people of color) and law enforcement.

In a video posted to Facebook just after she says she was stopped by the officer on her way home from an air force base, Cruver explains what happened, noting she was scared to get out of her car after the officer asked her to. 

According to Cruver's emotional video, she was stopped because she was driving under the speed limit, and the officer just wanted to make sure she was safe, since traveling slowly can be a sign of fatigue or intoxication. "As he said that, I just broke down crying," Cruver reveals in the video below, moved to tears as she recalls the encounter. "I told him, 'I was so scared.' "

"I knew he felt awful that I was that scared, but I was so scared," she adds. "I never thought that in that situation I would feel fearful, but I legitimately felt horrified. How awful to be stopped by the police and feel that scared."

Even though Cruver herself was surprised by her reaction, her fear of the police is not uncommon, or even unjustified. According to an initiative from The Guardian, which tracks police killings in America, U.S. police killed 266 Black people in 2016, 42 of whom were unarmed. 

In several cases, such the 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile, the encounters with law enforcement began as routine traffic stops not unlike the one Cruver experienced, and quickly turned fatal. Keith Lamont Scott and Alton Sterling are two people who each had similar stories.

A recent Gallup poll found faith in law enforcement nationwide reached a 22-year low in 2015, with 18 percent of Americans across demographics saying they had "very little or no confidence in police." According to a similar Gallup poll from 2014, that figure was even higher among black Americans, with 25 percent of responders saying they had little or no confidence in the police. 

In Cruver's case, she says the officer reassured her he stopped her because he was worried about her safety, and gave her a hug before going on his way. "It blew my mind how frightened I was that a police officer stopped me," she says in the Facebook video. "We see the videos, and we see things on the news, and we're so far removed from it, but I just kept thinking, 'Oh my God, why is this person asking me to get out of the car?' "

Per a report from Al Jazeera, awareness of increasing deaths and attacks towards racial minorities at the hands of the police, especially in Black communities, has created a growing culture of fear around interactions between people of color and law enforcement. That idea is perfectly illustrated in this video, which shows how Black men's view of the police goes from positive to fearful as they get older.

Cruver alluded to said culture of fear in her video, but noted in her case there actually wasn't anything to be afraid of. "The nature of the situation in our country right now made me feel horrified that I got stopped and asked to get out of the car, but the positive spin is that he really was just a nice officer checking to see if I was OK," she explains. "The sad piece is that I shouldn't have had to feel this scared."



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