The Monona Police Department has released the body-worn camera footage from Tuesday morning’s incident in which police entered a home without permission and briefly detained a Black man who was staying there.
Keonte Furdge, a 2016 graduate of Monona Grove High School, told Madison365 Wednesday that he was staying with his good friend and former football teammate Toren Young in a home owned by one of their former coaches. Furdge was on the porch talking on the phone when a neighbor called police, concerned that he was an intruder. Officers entered the home, guns drawn, and placed Furdge in handcuffs for several minutes.
“I was definitely afraid for my life,” Furdge said Wednesday.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Monona police said they knocked on the door and did not receive a response, but could hear someone talking inside.
Body-worn camera footage, however, shows that the responding officer, who has not been identified, did not knock or ring the doorbell, which can be seen in the video. Rather, he opened the door immediately upon arriving and asked, in a normal speaking tone, whether anyone was in the home.
Furdge can be heard talking and singing, but not responding to the officer. Furdge later said he was talking on the phone and didn’t hear the officer.
Minutes later, when more officers arrived, he sent one officer around to the side of the house, ad he and another officer — Luke Wunsch, the school resource officer at Monona Grove High School — entered the home and drew their weapons, pointing them in the direction of Furdge’s voice and commanding him to come out with his hands up.
Furdge complied and explained that he had permission to stay in the home with Young.
Wunsch recognized Furdge, asking, “Is that Keonte?”
Even so, the responding officer placed Furdge in handcuffs. Police attempted to reach the homeowner but were unsuccessful, but nonetheless released Furdge from the handcuffs and offered to inform the neighbors that he and Young were allowed to be staying in the house.
While Furdge attempted to reach the coach by phone, the officers made small talk about Young’s career as a running back at Monona Grove and the University of Iowa, lamenting that the coronavirus pandemic may have derailed his chances to get drafted into the NFL.
“Sorry to ruffle your feathers here,” Wunsch said to Furdge just before leaving. “Keep working out, stay healthy. Tell Toren Officer Luke says hi.”
At no time in the video can Furdge be heard saying he is paying rent or renting the house; the Monona Police statement indicated that he said he was a renter, and some on social media took that as an indication that Furdge was lying.
Furdge and Young went to the police department later that morning to file a complaint over the incident.
Monona Mayor Mary O’Connor expressed regret and apologized.
“I have personally viewed the video of the police call and feel terrible for the distress that this incident caused the young African American man involved,” she said in an introductory statement to the body camera video. “At this time I would like to offer a public apology to Mr. Furdge and Mr. Young.”
She said she would commission a full investigation by an independent organization and, regardless of the results of the investigation, “we intend to use this incident as an opportunity for reflection and to review our policies, as well as foster a community conversation on racial bias in Monona.”
Furdge announced in a Facebook post that he appreciated the support he’d gotten from the community, and that he would not be speaking to media at this time.
The full video is below. Some may find it upsetting.