Police detective Esteban Gomez from Illinois was facing disciplinary action after he was recorded telling a teenager that he was being detained because he was white. According to the footage, Gomez made the comment while he was questioning five teenagers outside a pawn shop in Lake Villa. The detective was conducting a theft investigation. Lake Villa police Chief Craig Somerville said that detective Gomez has been disciplined because he acted inappropriately and unprofessionally.
“Detective Gomez admitted his words were poorly chosen and insensitive, and he immediately regretted what he had said,” Somerville said in a statement reported by the Lake County News-Sun.
The 18-years old Dezi Baczek has posted the video on Facebook. She explained that the detective approached her and her friends while they were getting out of the pawn shop. Gomez ordered them to sit on the curb or be arrested. According to Baczek’s post, the group included someone who got into trouble, but the teenager claims that the others didn’t know anything about it till that point.
The video shows how one member of the group asks the detective if he is being arrested because he is a teenager or because of his baggy pants that he wore while being detained. The detective has responded “It’s because you’re white.” The footage was posted online and was viewed about 50 thousand times and shared more than 500 times.
“Detective Gomez has been disciplined for behavior unbecoming an officer. He will be assisting me with speaking to the parents and teens involved in this incident,” the chief said in a statement.
Somerville also said that one of the teens was charged with obstructing justice after he gave a false name. Baczek said she was called down to the police station on Tuesday afternoon and Somerville apologized to her.
“I honestly believe the chief means it,” she said.