EMU First-year Mario Valladares was chased by undercover police, handcuffed, and made to sit on the side of the road after he attempted to flee from what he believed to be an attacker. This occurred outside of the Suter Science Center at about 3 a.m. Tuesday morning of Fall break.
Valladares and another unnamed student were jogging back to campus over Fall break when an unmarked police vehicle, reported to have been searching for perpetrators in a series of robberies that occurred in the area, sped up and pulled across the sidewalk, cutting them off.
Valladares, who chose not to stay and find out why he was being apprehended, immediately ran. “I didn’t even wait. If that happened in Honduras, they would kidnap us or rob us or anything.”
“[The other student] noticed that they were cops but by the time they got out of the car I was two blocks away.” Valladares also said that, in his defense, “When I looked back all I see is a man with a gun coming after me, so I ran faster.”
Valladares, in fear, dived into a bush. “I threw all my stuff away from me so that they couldn’t rob me.” He only identified his pursuer as being a police officer when, upon seeing a campus security car, he came out of hiding.
According to Vallares, while he was heeding the officer’s commands to “Stand down!” the only thing on his mind was, “Oh my God… I’m going to get deported.”
Only after being handcuffed, photographed, and identified (for which he had to retrieve his belongings from the bush he had hidden in), did the officer allow him to leave.
“They didn’t apologize or anything, they just let us go. I was happy that they just let us go. I just wanted to go back to Cedarwood and go to sleep.”
Vice President of Student Life Ken Nafziger’s first reaction to the situation was one of concern for the well-being of the students involved. “Any time you’re in a different culture and you are stopped by someone, in this case the police, your mind runs to the most extreme.”
“My concern was for the kind of impact this had on them and their experience here,” said Ken. “We place a paramount emphasis on students feeling safe. My concern was with how are they feeling right now as far as their safety here at EMU.”
While Valladares says he has not noticed any lasting effects, he is not the only person that the incident has reached.
Within the Global Perspectives class, which is mostly attended by students transitioning to the United States from another country, the incident was used as a convenient transition into the topic of safety and security within each person’s respective country or culture.
Jonathon Patterson, an Indonesian student who has been attending school in the United States since be- ginning at EMU two years ago, said “I don’t blame the kid for running. I might have done the same thing.” He added, “I also don’t blame the cop for stopping him. I would be suspicious too if I saw someone running at three in the morning. I just wish that the police officer had been able to better control the situation.”
This incident has caused greater awareness of safety to spread across campus. The Global Perspectives class, after having discussed the matter of relative safety in and out of one’s own country, has added it to their curriculum for future use.
It has also led to a greater number of students becoming more conscious of safety and security on campus.
Officer Victoria Gillipsie with campus security does not view the situation in a negative light. “I feel sorry for the kid this happened to,” said Officer Gillipsie. “But, [as a student], it would make me feel a lot safer to know that the area is being constantly patrolled.”
-Kevin C. Treichel, News Editor
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