“I stopped him because he was a complaint that I had to go sit on,” Henige said.
“I was thinking, ‘Dang it, I didn’t see you,'” Walker said.
Officer Henige wrote Walker a ticket, but their exchange didn’t end there.
“The thing that made me remember it was he asked for the photo. That caught me off guard,” Henige said.
Walker, a Black man, and local pastor said he wanted to “dispel the standard narrative,” asking Henige to take a selfie with him.
“This image won’t go near as far as the negative story, however, I thought I’d post it anyway,” Walker said, “Beyond the Black guy, white cop narrative. This was the kind of respectful exchange that I’ve come to expect whenever I interact with officers.”
Walker posted the photo of he and Henige on Facebook, and it has since gone viral, with more than 83,000 shares as of this writing.
It all came as a surprise to the officer.
“People have told me it’s gone viral. I don’t even know what really going viral is,” Henige said, with a laugh, “It makes me feel good that I’m out there, conducting myself in an appropriate way that people can see where I am showing respect and just treating people as fairly as I can,” Henige said.
Walker wants more people to use his hashtag #complysaveslives.
“If there’s an incident where someone does comply and they lose their life, that’s a horrific incident. It’s not more horrific because someone’s ethnicity, it’s not more horrific because I have more melanin in my skin,” Walker said.
With more unrest in Minnesota following the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by police and the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, Henige calls the timing of the post uncanny.
“There’s just no words to describe how odd it is that’s kind of all happening at the same time. I’m just thankful for the good reaction it’s been receiving,” Henige said.
After numerous complaints about drivers running a stop sign at 173rd and Woolworth streets, Omaha police Officer John Henige found himself at that very intersection, watching for offenders.
It turns out a black man, Virgil Walker was one of them.
Walker was pulled over for a minor traffic violation, he quickly realized the police officer was a white man. Moments later, he uploaded his encounter with the officer, and his advice to black men across the country went viral for good reason.
Their narrative according to KETV reports:
Virgil Walker admits that he hadn’t completely stopped at a stop sign when Omaha Police Officer John Henige signaled for him to pull over, according to his Facebook post.
With the media perpetuating the idea that the police are executing innocent black men for nothing more than minor traffic violations, Walker could have made a run for it, claiming that he feared for his life. Instead, he did what some anti-police activists claim will still get a black man killed — he complied.
As to the cultural narrative, I’d say the following,” Walker wrote after the encounter. “No, I wasn’t afraid. No, I didn’t fear for my life. No, my ethnicity and his were irrelevant to what was happening. Yes, the officer was respectful. Yes, he did his job. Yes, he looked for ways to be cordial.”
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Walker, who serves as a local pastor and records a conservative podcast, explained that he politely handed over his license and registration, following all orders Officer Henige gave. The officer was just as kind and respectful, letting Walker go back home to his family with only a traffic ticket.
“Beyond the ‘black guy, white cop’ narrative, this was the kind of respectful exchange I’ve come to expect whenever I interact with officers,” Walker continued. “I’ve been black my whole life, and I’ve run into officers of all kinds. Some officers are friendly (like this one), and others are not so nice. Regardless, I’m always respectful. Even though I did receive a ticket on this occasion (I was in the wrong), I thanked the officer for his service and the respectful exchange.”
Walker asked Officer Henige for a photo, explaining that he wanted to write about the encounter on social media. His testimony went viral, prompting KETV to interview both him and the officer
The thing that made me remember it was he asked for the photo. That caught me off guard,” Hinige said. “It makes me feel good that I’m out there, conducting myself in an appropriate way that people can see where I am showing respect and just treating people as fairly as I can.”
Virgil Walker has rejected the idea that black people are being hunted down and executed by racist police officers. He maintains that it is extremely rare for a civilian of any color to end up getting shot as long as they comply with police orders. In fact, he hopes that his most recent encounter serves as a distinction from the main reason black men lose their lives during police interactions.
Walker’s reasoning is hard to argue against. If you fail to comply, you’re probably more likely to get shot. If someone truly believes their life is in danger, compliance is their best option for making it out alive. Any grievances should be settled in the courtroom, not at a traffic stop. There’s no winning in a fight against the police. The safest option is to comply and fight your battles through the justice system.