In a clear case of being mistaken for the culprit instead of the victim, a Black pastor in Virginia was wrongfully arrested after he called police over an assault on him by a white family on his property. A sheriff in Virginia has, however, apologized to the pastor for the wrongful arrest.
According to Pastor Leon McCray, he saw two people trying to dispose off a refrigerator on his property. McCray told them to stop, but one verbally abused him and the other went to call for backup, NBC news reported.
The small mob then started attacking him physically and verbally. He recalled, “threatening to kill me… telling me that my Black life didn’t matter.” It was at that point that he pulled out his concealed firearm in a bid to save himself. The group dispersed and McCray went on to call the police for help.
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Recounting his unfortunate incident in a sermon, McCray said the officers who arrived at the scene attended to the five white people who were rather the trespassers on his property taking their story without paying heed to him or giving him the avenue to express himself on what had just ensued.
Everyone in the community knows McCray is a pastor and surprisingly one of the officers who had known him for 20 years was the one who handcuffed him in front of the perpetrators. He was being charged with brandishing a weapon. McCray said the culprits waved at him as he was being driven away in a police car.
“Think about how disturbing that is,” the pastor and U.S. Air Force veteran said after calling 911 for help and then being arrested. “This was indeed the most humiliating, dehumanizing, demeaning, and violating event of my life.”
County Sheriff Timothy Carter revealed last Sunday that the charge against Pastor McCray has been dropped and the five assailants have been detained and charged. Shenondah County law enforcement authorities have now rendered a belated apology to Pastor McCray.
“As I told Mr. McCray, if I were faced with similar circumstances, I would have probably done the same thing,” the Sheriff said in a statement. “I have apologized to Mr. McCray, and I appreciate his patience as I have worked through these matters.”
The Sheriff’s office revealed that the white family Donny Salyers, 43, Dennis Salyers, 26, Farrah Salyers, 42, Christopher Sharp, 57, and Amanda Salyers, 26, are being held without bond and are facing charges for hate crimes and other degrees of assault.
Christopher Sharp and Amanda Salyers have additional charges for trespassing while Donny and Dennis Salyers are being charged with assault and battery as well. However, the officers who were involved in this wrongful arrest of Pastor McCray have been placed on administrative leave without pay.
Social media has become a very powerful tool being used to call out injustices being meted out to people, especially blacks and its thunderous effects have seen changes being effected in some parts of the judicial system.
To conclude his statement on Facebook, Sheriff Carter said, “Thank you for your patience, because with today’s social media, there seems to be a sense of immediacy.” It was through social media that Shenandoah County was called out on their unlawful arrest of Pastor McCray which expedited his charges being dropped.