RICHLAND, Miss. (WLBT) - After a Greenville pastor accused the Richland Police Department of racism for pulling him over and searching his car, Chief Russel James comes to the defense of his officers.
The pastor, Mike Pembleton, posted video of the stop and video of a sermon he preached in which he says he was targeted for “driving while black in Richland.”
Chief James has said his door is open for a conversation if Pembleton wants to discuss it.
Police say Pembleton was pulled over for a window tint violation, but a police K-9 alerted on a smell while conducting an exterior search of the car.
When the interior was searched, nothing was found there. James says the K-9, who won second in a national narcotics detection competition a few years ago, did the alert for a reason.
“Well, there was something there," said Chief James. "What he smells is something residual. You know, they’re trained to alert to very specific number of things. So, what he’s trained to alert to is what he alerted on. So, I don’t know what that was, what residue was on the door. I have no idea.”
Pembleton was issued a citation for his window tint -- in his back windows he had one percent tint while Mississippi's law says it has to be above 28 percent.
We're told his 2-year-old child was also in the back seat without a car seat and he had an improper tag, but he was not cited for those.
Pembleton's videos do not show any unfriendly interactions between him and the officers.
We reached out to the pastor for comment and are waiting for a response. He did post to Facebook after Chief James’ presser, saying, “Why would a dialogue need to happen, you’ve taken your position?”