GPD: Traffic stop narrative 'misleading, inflammatory'

GPD: Traffic stop narrative 'misleading, inflammatory'

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Days after a former Gulfport resident accused police of holding his family at gunpoint, the Gulfport Police Department has issued a statement.

In a 30-minute long video posted to Facebook, Police Chief Leonard Papania details what happened that night, saying the entire arrest incident lasted around 11 minutes.

"I feel it is important that we address these accusations. There are two incidents. The traffic stop contact and the meeting in the police lobby. In regards to the contact in the police lobby, we failed to de-escalate the situation to provide for an opportunity of discussion," said Papania. "We should've exercised better demeanor in the police lobby. While even the best people at de-escalating situations don't always succeed, we should always try."

Additionally, Papania says that during the traffic stop, Fairley was not told to "shut the f*** up", nor was he thrown into the police cruiser.

Per the recorded conversation, a description that included race was not given when dispatch received the initial call from neighbors.

"Nothing in my review of this matter that indicated racially biased actions or misconduct," said the chief.

Fairley, who used Facebook to post about the stop and the encounter at the police department, says he felt police should have simply asked him to see his identification in lieu of anything else that happened.

"We do not have the luxury of hindsight and must act reasonably on the information provided. We did just that," said Papania, who also said that as soon as it was safe, officers unhandcuffed Fairley and his wife and explained why they stopped them.

According to the footage, Fairley told officers that he understood why he was stopped.

In regards to drawing their weapons, Papania says that the time of day and tint on the vehicle did not provide the needed visibility. Because of that, police responded reasonably and adjusted accordingly. Once it was determined that there were children in the car, Papania says weapons were holstered, and the children were asked to get out of the car.

"I would say that the narrative put forth by Fairley includes misleading, inflammatory, and false statements that disallows a third party to have an accurate account of what occurred. False narrative compounded with a poorly handled situation at the police station is what I believe has driven this false story."

WLOX is reviewing the statement and will continue to update this story as it develops.

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