Two white Atlanta police officers have been cleared of racial profiling allegations against filmmaker Tyler Perry.
The finding comes after a four-month internal investigation of the officers’ actions during a traffic stop earlier this year outside Perry’s southwest Atlanta studio.
Perry did not file a formal complaint on the incident, but the Atlanta Police Department used statements he made on his Facebook page as a basis to launch the investigation.
The officers stopped Perry, who was alone in his white Porsche Panamera, on Feb. 24 after Perry made an illegal left turn as he left his studio en route to the airport, according to the investigative report obtained by the AJC. The officers questioned Perry for about six minutes before letting him go without issuing a ticket, the report said. Perry said he made the illegal turn to make sure he wasn’t being followed, a tactic he was told to use by his security team.
Perry said that during the traffic stop, one of the officers reached inside his car and grabbed the starter button, mistaking it for the key. Perry explained to the officer that it was not the key and reached into the console to get the key. At that point, Perry said, both officers “tensed up” and Perry quickly dropped the key so the officers would not react further.
He said the officers repeatedly asked him why he thought he was being followed and “what is wrong with you?”
“It was so hostile. I was so confused. It was happening so fast that I could see how this situation could easily get out of hand very quickly. I didn’t feel safe at all,” the report quoted Perry as saying on Facebook.
Eventually, another officer arrived on the scene and recognized Perry. The third officer, who was black, took the other two officers aside and talked to them, Perry said. After a few minutes one of the two white officers returned to Perry and apologized, he said.
In his Facebook post, Perry went on to say he feels he was profiled, which he said should be a hate crime investigated by the FBI.
But the officers said they didn’t know the driver of the car was black until they stopped him. They were working on a stolen auto investigation and said Perry’s car was similar to one that had been reported stolen.
“He was not stopped because he was black. He was not stopped because he was racially profiled. His vehicle had dark tinted windows,” one of the officers told the investigator. The officers denied that they were belligerent and said Perry was “irate” and “disrespectful” during the incident.
There was no dashboard camera in the police car, the report said, and the officers never communicated with a radio operator.
The internal affairs officer who conducted the investigation concluded, “I would submit the evidence shows the actions of both officers with the regard to the traffic stop of Mr. Perry were justified, lawful and proper.”