‘I Fit a Profile': Father Recalls Newton Police Drawing Guns on Him

Tim Duncan, a former assistant athletic director at Northeastern University, says he was racially profiled by police searching for a murder suspect, leading six officers to draw their guns

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A former assistant athletic director at Northeastern University claimed he was racially profiled by police in Newton, Massachusetts, during an incident in the city in May.

Tim Duncan took to social media to share the story this week to bring more attention to interactions between police and people of color.

"Sometimes, African American males are just thought of as threats, so police are sometimes more aggressive," said Duncan.

On May 20, Duncan and his wife were in town to pack up their home for his new job in New Orleans. During a walk in their neighborhood, Duncan was suddenly approached by several police officers.

"We were stopped by four police cars, six policemen with guns drawn," Duncan said in his video posted to social media. "Because we fit a profile, because I fit a profile."

According to Newton Police, the officers were conducting surveillance on a nearby home as part of a murder investigation in Boston. They believed the physical description of the suspect they were looking for matched Duncan. For a tense few minutes, the father of five said he was too frightened to move his hands to pull out his wallet, as one of the officers had a gun pointed, so he instructed them to reach for it to verify he was not their suspect. Ultimately, they did.

"I understand they're looking for a murderer, but could they have pulled up, started to ask questions," Duncan said. "I think if they were looking for a tall white man … I don't know if the interaction would have occurred the same."

In response, Newton Police said the entire interaction lasted three minutes and that officers apologized. Duncan said he has since spoken with both Newton's mayor and police chief and had positive conversations. While he has no plans to file a complaint, he hopes the incident serves as a teachable moment for the public.

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