Needham Police accused of racially profiling, illegally handcuffing Black man

Needham Police accused of racially profiling, illegally handcuffing Black man

NEEDHAM, Mass. — Needham Police are being accused of racially profiling a Black man and illegally placing him in handcuffs, according to attorneys representing the man.

Lawyers for Civil Rights say Marvin Henry, a massage therapist and father of four, was wrongfully stopped by police after shopping at a local CVS.

In a demand letter sent to Needham Police, the attorneys allege Henry had been leaving the store when he was stopped by multiple officers, including the chief of police, who were under the suspicion he had shoplifted.

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Henry had stopped at the CVS for a can of tea and some cough drops during his lunch break back in January 2020.

The letter goes on to say that, without warning or explanation, the officers hjandcuffed Henry and shoved him against the side of his van while other officers searched his pockets. According to his lawyers, he wasn’t holding anything in his hands that could’ve been mistaken for a weapon.

Henry’s lawyers allege the ordeal went on for 40 minutes, where Henry pleaded the officers to explain what was happening and loosen the tight handcuffs.

Once officers told Henry he was being detained under the suspicion he had shoplifted, he then showed the officers his receipt and was released. Howevever, his lawyers allege Henry never got an apology or an explanation as to “why the alleged shoplifting of items costing less than $4 by an unarmed man would necessitate such an extreme, violent and dehumanizing response.”

Henry’s lawyers are calling on the department to issue a formal apology and “institute tangible, structural reforms in training officers.”

A spokesperson for the town issued the following statement regarding the letter:

“The Town Manager received the letter detailing the alleged incident Monday afternoon. While we are still reviewing the many facts alleged in this case, one thing the Town has determined is that the Police Chief was not on the scene during this incident. Given the magnitude of what is alleged to have occurred, it is critical that the record be corrected to reflect that fact. The Town takes seriously all allegations contained in the letter. Given current tensions and heightened awareness around issues of race and discrimination and policing, it is particularly imperative that we fully understand the facts before coming to any conclusions. The Town will conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and asks that the community withhold judgement until that investigation is complete.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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