John Smyly, a former police officer in the city of Boulder, Colo., will not face harsh penalties after he racially profiled, harassed, and threatened a Black man doing a good deed in his community. In a settlement, Smyly lost his gig but still will collect $69,000 in salary and won’t see a blemish on his work record.
Police body camera footage released Thursday provided a full video account of the tense encounter, which had gained national attention based on video shot by someone inside a student dormitory at Naropa University, a liberal arts school associated with Buddhism in the city of Boulder.
City officials said the investigation could not prove that the officer, John Smyly, acted because of Zayd Atkinson’s race. Investigators found Smyly violated two department policies: police authority and public trust and conduct, the city attorney said. The independent review, conducted by former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, Bob Troyer, will soon be released by the city.
“Boulder is essentially saying we’re going to pay this officer and let him resign for threatening Zayd’s life, for racially profiling Zayd,” said Atkinson’s attorney, Siddhartha Rathod. “If you or I were to do this, we would be criminally charged. We would immediately lose our jobs.”
Mr. Rathod is correct. What Smyly did should have incurred harsher charges but here we are. To make matters worse, Smyly gets to chill at home with pay until Feb. 9 of next year while Atkinson says he’s been plagued with anxiety by way of the trauma of the exchange.
Check out footage of the exchange between Smyly and Atkinson. We do urge caution as this video could trigger some.