By Mitch Borden
A video that recently surfaced online is raising questions about how the City of Midland polices people of color. Cell phone footage from May 16 shows multiple Midland Police Officers pointing their weapons at Tye Anders, a 21-year-old black man.
The department claims an officer initially pursued Anders for running a stop sign and refusing to pullover. But advocates for the young man argue the department’s actions were unjustified and reflect a history of racial profiling in Midland.
In the three-minute video, recorded by a family member, Anders is lying face down in the grass of his 90-year-old grandmother’s front lawn. He stopped at his grandmother’s home after allegedly running a stop sign a few blocks away.
In the tense scene, Anders’ hands are up as at least five officers surround him with their guns drawn. You can hear him and bystanders yelling for the officers to lower their weapons, all while police are instructing Anders to walk toward them. Throughout the video, Anders repeatedly screams that he is scared.
After a few minutes, Anders’ grandmother approaches him. Soon, responding officers crowd around Anders and one motions for the elderly woman to back away. She then appears to fall. Family members and officers rush toward her, one person yelling, “y’all pushed her!”
The Dallas-based criminal and civil rights attorney Justin Moore is representing Anders and said Anders’ grandmother was trying to diffuse the situation and protect her grandson, explaining, “In an effort to save her grandson’s life, she ended up eating dirt herself, which is unfortunate.”
According to the attorney, Anders’ grandmother passed out after falling to the ground, though it’s unclear why. Moore said she’s getting tests done to make sure the fall didn’t cause any long-term impacts on her health.
Anders is also alleging a female officer hit him in the face multiple times after being arrested.
Moore doesn’t have the name of the officer, but says Anders “was placed in the back seat of one of the squad cars. He says he was struck multiple times in the face by one of the officers.”
Anders has been charged with evading arrest, a third-degree felony. His bond was set at $10,000, which he was able to post.
Anders’ attorney believes the arrest is an example of a larger systemic issue facing Midland: the city’s police department harassing and profiling people of color.
Over the last week, Moore says he’s heard several distressing stories from Midlanders.
“From what I’ve heard over the four or five days, it has just been a tale and trend of Midland PD terrorizing the people in that area and that city,” said Moore. “It is really frightening.”
According to Anders, he was on his way to his grandmother’s house which is only a few blocks away from his home. After he pulled out of his driveway, he noticed a Midland Police cruiser following him. He says it wasn’t until he was near his grandmother’s home that the police officer flashed their lights to pull over.
The arrest affidavit from the May 16 incident describes a Midland officer
— identified as “officer M. Rosero” — spotting Anders driving a silver 2017 Dodge Charger and proceeding to follow it. At one point, the officer saw Anders make a rolling stop and decided to pull him over shortly after. The officer notes that they felt like the car was “making several extreme attempts to elude and avoid [him].”
The arrest affidavit states the officer signaled for Anders to pull over, but the 21-year-old failed to stop and continued to drive to his nearby grandmother’s house. Once parked, the officer called for Anders to exit the car, but he refused, resulting in the officer calling for backup. “After several more attempts to call Anders back, he continued to interfere with my public duties,” reads the affidavit.
Attorney Justin Moore is adamant that Anders is not guilty of evading arrest.
“We full throatedly state that he was not trying to evade arrest as we see on the camera footage,” said Moore. “He actually was submitting himself to the officers in a very safe way trying to deescalate tensions that could have been fatal.”
The lawyer does not believe the 21-year-old ran a stop sign, but says even if he did that “it shouldn’t lead to multiple officers responding to a traffic violation and drawing multiple weapons.”
Since his arrest on Saturday, Moore says Anders’ has been distraught. The lawyer believes the encounter could’ve been fatal and the traumatic encounter with law enforcement has shaken his client.
In an interview just days after the arrest, Anders described his emotional state to the Next Generation Action Network, a nonprofit that works for social change.
“I ain’t got no words for it,” Anders said through tears. “I just feel helpless, like it’s going to keep happening.”
Anders and his attorney are requesting the Midland Police Department release the dash and body camera footage from the arrest. But in a recent press conference, Midland Mayor Patrick Payton said he does not believe this is the right moment to release those videos.
“I’m sure the time will come for everything to be seen,” said Payton. “I just quite frankly didn’t see how releasing our video would calm anybody down at this time.”
Moore said as the legal process moves forward he will be able to access the dash and bodycam footage from the event, and that he’s confident that he’ll “be able to prove that Tye Anders was racially profiled that day and that Midland PD has a perverse trend of harassing minorities in that city.”