Richmond woman rattled by incident with Henrico police

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 8/2/2018, 6 a.m.
Qunita Jones knows how actor Ving Rhames felt when he was confronted at his California home by police investigating a ...

Qunita Jones knows how actor Ving Rhames felt when he was confronted at his California home by police investigating a neighbor’s call that a “large black man” was breaking in.

The 25-year-old Richmond poet said she had a similar racial profiling experience with officers from Henrico County Police Division.

Ms. Jones and her fiancé had just finished breakfast at a restaurant at The Shops at Willow Lawn around 9 a.m. June 16. The drama happened as she walked to the car while he went to refill his drink, she said.

Suddenly, she said, she was confronted by a white Henrico police officer, who hopped out of his car and loudly said, “We got a call about a fight. Where are the other guys that were with you?”

Ms. Jones said she told the officer he had the wrong person, then repeated it when another officer arrived and asked her the whereabouts of two men and a fight police were told was going on outside the restaurant.

Again, she said, she told the officers, “You have the wrong person. I just finished eating breakfast.”

She said she felt intimidated as the officers continued to question her.

When she told them she was being profiled because she is black, she said one officer told her not to go there.

She wondered where the report of a fight outside the restaurant had come from. She said the couple had not heard any arguments or sounds of a fight while eating on the restaurant’s outdoor patio.

When her fiancé joined her, he told her to get out their restaurant receipt. She also pointed to other customers at the restaurant who had seen them dining at the restaurant and not involved in a dispute.

At that point, the officers left, she said.

She said she telephoned Henrico Police and learned that the caller told police two black men and a black woman wearing a sleeveless top were involved.

Ms. Jones said she was dressed in long-sleeve exercise top. “The only description that matched was black female,” Ms. Jones said.

“I was fortunate that it did not escalate,” she said. “However, it was very alarming.”

She said she believed that had there not been a crowd at the restaurant, “this could have turned out very different.”

“For the police department to kind of shrug it off and chalk it up to my being black at the wrong place and wrong time is totally out of order.”

Ms. Jones said she filed a complaint, but has not heard from Henrico Police. The department also did not respond to a Free Press request for comment.