UNO Athletic Director hopes to use unprompted run-in with police as a teaching moment

“Four cars with six policemen,” said Duncan. “They jumped out. One of them had a gun pointed directly at me and said get your hands on your head.”

NEW ORLEANS —

The athletic director at the University of New Orleans is hoping a run-in with police while out of state can be used as a teaching moment for hundreds of student-athletes.  

 “I love the student-athletes. I love interacting with them. They are so smart, talented and diverse,” said Tim Duncan 

The incident happened on May 20th in Newton, Massachusetts. Tim Duncan — who has worked as the athletic director since 2019 — was walking with his wife to the store after spending the day packing up their old house and visiting family. 

“Four cars with six policemen,” said Duncan. “They jumped out. One of them had a gun pointed directly at me and said get your hands on your head.”

The officers asked where Duncan lived and what he was doing in the neighborhood, along with a few other questions. Eventually, officers let him go but not before they asked him if he had a weapon.

“I said no. They asked me if I could reach into my pocket and I said no (and asked if) the officer could do it. They said yes and it de-escalated from there.”

The Newton Police Dept. said in a statement that they were “actively searching for a suspect who was wanted out of Boston. When Newton Police Officers stopped Mr. Ducan, they had reasonable suspicion to stop him,” said Lt. Bruce Apotheker, a civil rights officer at the Newton Police Dept. since 1983. 

“The detective on the scene said they were looking for a murder suspect. I said was he a 6 foot 8 black man? And they said ‘wel, he was tall’,” said Duncan. 

At first — Duncan brushed the run in off as normal but then George Floyd died and he decided to tell the story to his student-athletes. 

“Why am I normalizing something that is not cool? Why am I normalizing something that has ended the life of so many people that look like me?” 

Duncan says he wants to African-American student-athletes who may have been or had friends or family who have been in a situation like this before an opportunity to talk, understand and recognize the behavior.   

“Hopefully, we can provide them with a safe space to talk and share,” said Duncan. “For our non-African-American student-athletes, I want them to understand that this just doesn’t happen to people that others call thugs. It can happen to the athletic director who’s there for them.” 

    Apotheker says they take civil rights violations seriously and that Duncan can file an anonymous complaint at their website, but Duncan says he is just going to call them and that he just wants fairness. 

“If they were to stop you on the street,” said Duncan, speaking with WWLTV’s Paul Dudley, a white reporter. “I don’t think they would have pulled their guns. I know that if you were to reach into your pocket to pull out your ID the statistics show there is less of a chance for anything bad to happen. That’s awesome for you and I want that for you but also want that for me.”

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