Man Questioned by Police After Someone Reported Him Acting ‘Suspicious' at ATM

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From overt racism to unconscious bias, Black Americans -- and other people of color -- deal with it every day.

But when you don't belong to one of those communities, it can be more difficult to understand, even when you try really hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

What happened to a Tarrant County man earlier this month may help.

He said a simple act of forgetfulness led to an interrogation by police.

On the other side, the officers said they were just doing their job.

It happened at a QuikTrip gas station in Burleson on August 12.

Brian Friar, a 39-year-old husband, father and forklift operator, said he was withdrawing money from the ATM inside, but forgot his pin number.

“It was on my phone, so I had to turn my phone on,” Friar said.

NBC 5 talks with Dr. Jandel Crutchfield at the University of Texas at Arlington about what unconscious bias is and how we can avoid it.

Friar said he was in a hurry to help his wife Tiwanna who was stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire nearby.

He said he'd just pulled his cash out of the ATM when Burleson police officers approached him.

“The officer just seen me have two of them in my hand and then when I was putting them in my wallet, he said, ‘You got a lot of credit cards there’,” Friar recalled. “It just stung me and I was like ‘Huh?’”

In cell phone video Friar recorded, officers ask him to prove the credit cards are his.

He shows officers his ID.

"Ok, that's one. You've got like 10 there, man,” one officer says.

Friar proves all the cards are his and explains to the officers the reason for the mix-up at the ATM.

"No, I had the wrong pin in some of my cards and I got to go in my phone and unlock it, so that's why I was switching cards,” Friar explained in the video.

The officer responds, "See that's reasonable."

Police run Friar's name through their system, and after a few minutes the officer tells him he’s, “Good to go. Best of luck.”

“If I would've never picked up the phone ain’t no telling what would've went on,” Friar said.

Burleson Police Chief Billy Cordell said the officers were at QT on a break when someone in line behind Friar at the ATM reported him acting "suspicious ... using multiple cards ... that kept being declined."

Cordell said the reported activity merited questioning.

“We've got a duty to go in and investigate these cases, ID theft, credit card abuse is a situation that cost people thousands and thousands of dollars,” Cordell said.

Dr. Alex Del Carmen is with the school of criminology at Tartleton State University in Stephenville. He watched the video and questions whether race played a part in this.

“The question here in this case in Burleson is whether or not the officers would have done things differently had this individual been of a different race or of a different ethnicity,” Del Carmen said.

Cordell said he's spoken with the officers and believes they would've reacted the same way, regardless of race.

The Friars believe skin color is the reason he was stopped and questioned at all.

“I personally feel that it was race motivated because he was black and he was at the ATM just getting money out,” Tiwanna Friar said.

Chief Cordell said concerns, like this, are taken seriously. He said he's happy to discuss what happened with Friar and welcomes feedback from everyone he serves.

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