Newlyweds Kelvin Fairley and Natasha Krikorian were preparing a written complaint Tuesday morning against Gulfport police officers who handcuffed them and held their family at gunpoint after a burglary was reported Sunday night at their home.
Fairley said he planned to include in his complaint the way an officer, who identified himself as Sgt. Wilder, treated them when they went to the department later Sunday evening to complain. A family member videotaped the encounter.
Police Chief Leonard Papania’s department was reviewing multiple videos of the incident. Papania on Tuesday declined to talk with the Sun Herald through police Sgt. Clayton Fulks about what happened and about department policies on when an officer should draw a gun.
“Not right now,” Fulks said. “Not today. They’re still going over videos. We want to know exactly what happened.”
Fairley said his family received “immense support” from commenters on their own Facebook posts and on media Facebook posts about what happened.
“We’re still processing it all, to be honest,” Fairley said. “My concern now is how the kids are dealing with it.” He said their friends at school had questions about what happened, forcing them to relive the incident.
Fairley gave the Sun Herald additional details Tuesday about being pulled over by police officers.
He said officers later told him that a neighbor called the police department to report that a nearby home was possibly being burglarized. The neighbor said a dark-colored SUV was pulling away from the home.
Fairley, a traveling registered nurse on vacation this week, was pulling out of his driveway on Woodforest Drive with his family in a dark-colored SUV.
He said he does not know the neighbor who reported that his house was being burglarized, but the house once belonged to Fairley’s parents and he grew up there.
Fairley said he saw a patrol car pass as he was pulling out of the neighborhood. A police SUV parked on Dedeaux Road made a U-turn and pulled the family over in the parking lot of a closed business less than two minutes from the Fairley home.
He said six to seven police vehicles surrounded the SUV. The officers, guns drawn, lined up in a semi-circle behind the vehicle, he said.
Fairley said he was scared because he has seen videotapes of other black men being shot by police. Fairley, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds, said he carefully unbuckled his seat belt according to the officer’s instructions.
He kept asking why he was pulled over, as he got out of the vehicle with his hands up, but the officers, he said, just kept telling him to “shut the f - - - up.”
Both he and his wife, a psychologist, were handcuffed. Officers still had their guns drawn as they instructed the children to get out of the car.
Fairley said the officers never asked for his identification, showing his address as the house on Woodforest Drive. Officers questioned family members separately, Fairley said, and were apparently satisfied their stories lined up.
The officers released them.
“No apology whatsoever,” he said. “One of the officers just said, ‘Oh, you should be happy you got a good adrenaline rush out of this.’ They all laughed. And then one of the officers said, ‘You’re free to go.’
“I wanted to be heard. I wanted to file a complaint I wanted more of an explanation. I wanted them to know how the officers treated us unfairly and unjustly. I wanted someone to offer an apology. It’s ridiculous.”