Teen wants apology after officer pulls gunBy
The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday June 30, 2013 6:31 AM
Kyle Robertson | Dispatch
Xzavier Brandon, 16, had a gun pointed at him and was handcuffed by a police officer on his way to football practice.
Xzavier Brandon went from a 16-year-old honor student to a felony suspect in a matter of minutes
during a walk to school last month.
“A gun was pointed at me and handcuffs were put on me, and that’s everything that’s done to a
criminal,” Brandon said in an interview last week.
Exempt from final exams because of good test scores at New Albany High School, Brandon was
walking his usual route to preseason football practice on May 28 when a resident of Hilltop Trail
Drive thought he looked suspicious. A house in the Northeast Side neighborhood had been broken into
between 8:30 a.m. and 12:40 p.m., when the homeowner returned and discovered the crime.
About the same time, Mike Eberts, who lives in the neighborhood, saw Brandon walking by and
“There’s someone walking down the street who might have something to do with this,” he told the
Columbus police dispatcher. “It may just be a coincidence that he’s just walking by, but it sure
looks suspicious to me.” He told the dispatcher he would follow the youth in his car.
Brandon remembered that he had said hello to a man he didn’t know as he passed, but he kept
walking toward Thompson Road. He had headphones on while listening to his iPod, he said, and it
wasn’t until he heard a loud shout, turned around and saw a gun in his face that he realized
something was wrong. Officer Leonard Milner told the teen to drop to the ground and then handcuffed
him and asked if he had any jewelry in his backpack. Brandon said he didn’t.
As he was on the ground at the side of busy Thompson Road, he tried to turn his face so he
wouldn’t be recognized, he said. Brandon, who will be a junior at New Albany in the fall, said he’s
active in football, school and volunteering.
“I was a little insulted that anyone in New Albany would think I was a threat,” he said.
He was held until another officer showed up about 15 minutes later and vouched for him. That
officer, Sgt. Tyrone Hollis, knew Brandon from his son’s football team and gave him a ride to the
high school after he was released.
Because there was no arrest, no report was filed, and that makes both Brandon and his mother, Jo
“Something serious just happened,” he said. “And in my opinion, it was just blown off.”
Brandon-Jones filed an internal-affairs complaint with the Police Division, alleging that Milner
used excessive force when he encountered her son. That review likely will take months to
Sgt. Elrico Alli, a police spokesman, said the officer was approaching someone who might have
just committed a burglary, a serious crime.
“Whenever we encounter anything that involves a felony, or serious physical harm ... we display
our firearms,” Alli said.
Eberts, the neighbor who called police, said this week, “I wasn’t accusing anyone of anything. I
simply was encouraging the police to talk with someone in the area.” He wouldn’t elaborate on what
he thought was suspicious about Brandon.
Brandon, who is black, wonders whether Eberts suspected him of the crime because of his
“What other reason would he have to call police on me?” he asked.
The encounter might not have ended safely if he had reached in his pocket to turn off his iPod
or hadn’t heard the officer’s commands, he pointed out. “I could have been shot. I could have been
killed that day.”
Both mom and son would like an apology from the police officer, an acknowledgement that what
Brandon went through was wrong.
“You can’t undo it,” Brandon-Jones said. “But you can make it better.”http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/06/30/teen-wants-apology-after-officer-pulls-gun.html