Crime

Kansas police commission closes investigation of ‘moving while black’ case

New homeowner questioned by Tonganoxie police during early-morning move

Karle Robinson, 61, a military veteran, was moving into his new house at 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday in Tonganoxie. Body camera recorded police handcuffing him while checking to see if he lived there.
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Karle Robinson, 61, a military veteran, was moving into his new house at 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday in Tonganoxie. Body camera recorded police handcuffing him while checking to see if he lived there.

A Kansas state agency has closed its investigation into the actions of Tonganoxie police who handcuffed a black man outside his own home while he was moving furniture.

The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (CPOST) sent a letter to the man saying the investigation was closed with no further action, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Karle Robinson had complained about an incident in which police detained him while he was moving a TV into his home at 2:30 a.m. on August 19. As The Star reported in October, Robinson told the officer that he was a new homeowner and had identification inside the house, but the officer handcuffed him while he went inside to look for the paperwork himself.

Robinson sat handcuffed outside his own home for about 12 minutes before officers removed his handcuffs and helped him move the TV inside.

He filed a complaint with the Tonganoxie Police Department but Chief Greg Lawson determined the officers acted appropriately and would not have acted differently if Robinson was white.

In March the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas wrote a letter to the state’s attorney general asking for an investigation of what they called a “moving while black” case. The attorney general referred the case to C-POST later in the month.

Robinson received a letter last week informing him that his case had been closed with no action following an investigation.

Gary Steed, executive director of the commission, said Kansas law prohibits him from discussing investigations or confirming their existence.

Robinson and the Tonganoxie Police Department did not respond to the Star’s request for comment in time for publication.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Katie Bernard covers Kansas crime, cops and courts for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star in May of 2019. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.
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