Colorado rubbish row officer resigns

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Media captionColorado police confront man picking up trash on his lawn

A police officer in Colorado has resigned after confronting a black student picking up rubbish outside his shared accommodation.

John Smyly questioned and followed Naropa University student Zayd Atkinson near his home in Boulder.

“I don’t have a weapon! This is a bucket! This is a clamp!” Mr Atkinson says in a video taken by a neighbour.

Officer Smyly drew his gun and called in backup during the confrontation in March.

Under a settlement with the department, Mr Smyly will stay on the city payroll until February 2020.

The Associated Press reports he will earn benefits and a salary during this time and will be compensated for any unused holiday he accrues.

Boulder Police Department’s investigation found Mr Smyly had violated the department’s rules on police authority, public trust and conduct.

The officer “did not have authority to detain Mr Atkinson”, the department wrote in their report. “The subject officer did not have probable cause to charge Mr Atkinson with any crime.”

Authorities also released body camera footage from officers at the scene.

During the incident the man gave officers his university ID and said repeatedly that he lived and worked at the shared occupancy building.

Mr Smyly called for backup because Mr Atkinson was “unwilling to put down a blunt object”.

The investigation report said that while Mr Smyly had not used racial language during the incident and had “specifically” told them his actions were not based on Mr Atkinson’s race, the student had disagreed.

Mr Atkinson told local broadcaster CBS4 Denver he was glad Officer Smyly was “being held accountable for something but it seems like it’s just bare minimum things”.

The student’s lawyer, Siddhartha Rathod, told local newspaper the Denver Post that he was disappointed Mr Smyly had not been fired and would still be paid.

“The city of Boulder is paying this officer nearly $80,000 [£71,500] for violating the constitutional rights of Zayd,” he said. “If you or I did what Officer Smyly did to Zayd Atkinson, not only would we be immediately fired, we would be criminally prosecuted.”

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