SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD)- March 21st is a day that Noah West will never forget. The 20-year-old was pulled over, handcuffed and held at gunpoint by Summerville Police officers for failing to use his headlights.
“All I was thinking was stay calm, God’s got you, God’s got you,” says West, recalling the events that took place that evening.
According to Summerville PD, those officers were investigating a shots fired call when they spotted West driving without his headlights on. They believed that he was possibly involved in the incident.
“I saw you driving and you didn’t have any lights on in your car. You see how that could look a little messed up?,” asks an officer, “The last time somebody go shot up in Robynwyn the vehicle left with no lights on.”
The officers pulled West’s vehicle over in the parking lot of the Checkers restaurant on Main Street. Here is the full bodycam footage:
West says the reason why he was stopped and put through a felony traffic stop was obvious: racial profiling.
“I feared for my life,” says West. “I stayed calm and was so polite to the police.”
West’s mom was watching the scene in horror from a few yards away. She captured this video on her cellphone.
“I’ve always lived in fear but now my stress levels are 1,000,” she says.
The Summerville officers let West go without charges, saying, “sorry to scare you, it happens,” but West and his family are still reeling weeks after the incident.
They say too many people of color have to suffer from similar situations and some of which have far worse endings. With the help of State Representative Marvin Pendarvis, they are hoping to bring attention to this ongoing issue in the Lowcountry.
“It’s about truth, it’s about justice, it’s about transparency and making sure we hold people accountable,” says Pendarvis.
West says he is still traumatized from that event, but he is hoping that his story will help educate the community on the injustice people of color have to face every day.
“I’m going to tell this story to my kids and my siblings when they’re ready. They’re going to see how calm I was and know what to do. And they’re going to know not to act crazy because the police will act crazier and not get in trouble for it,” he says.