Northwestern student held at gunpoint by police

Tyler Pager, Campus Editor

Police held a Northwestern student at gunpoint and briefly detained him Friday morning.

Weinberg senior Daniel Ngai said he was riding in an Uber back to his apartment around 3 a.m. Friday when the car was pulled over by Wilmette police near the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Noyes Street, right outside of his apartment. Both Ngai and the driver were told to get out of the car and lie on the ground, he said.

Ngai said he was handcuffed while multiple police officers stood less than 15 feet away pointing assault rifles at him. The police patted him down, took his cell phone and wallet, and put him in the back of a police car, Ngai said.

Ngai said he spent at least 10 minutes in the police car before he was told why he was being detained.

“What I don’t understand is that they patted me down, they took everything from me, they handcuffed me behind my back so obviously I wasn’t a risk anymore,” he said. “I wasn’t going to do anything at that point so at that point, I was wondering why they couldn’t tell me in 10 words or less what was going on.”

Officers followed standard protocol during the stop, Wilmette Deputy Police Chief Kyle Perkins said. He said officers stopped the car because it matched the description of a vehicle seen leaving the area in Wilmette where calls to police reported hearing shots fired.

“This is the standard procedure because if the guns are not out and the person exits the car and starts shooting, then we are not protecting ourselves,” Perkins said.

University Police responded to the incident, but Deputy Chief Daniel McAleer deferred comment to the Wilmette Police Department. Evanston police assisted Wilmette police in the stop, Cmdr. Joseph Dugan said, but he declined to comment further on the incident.

Ngai said the incident was particularly scary in light of the recent police brutality around the nation.

“Being a person of color … obviously I couldn’t help but think of Ferguson and a lot of things where there are guns pointed at someone and they didn’t do anything wrong and they had their hands up and still got shot,” Ngai said.

Ngai said that after police released him, a police officer said, “Well, at least now you have a good story.” Ngai said he’s not “anti-police,” but he wished officers had acknowledged that something traumatic happened.

Perkins said he was not surprised by Ngai’s reaction.

“Anytime you get anyone on a felony spot, especially a student, they’re probably going to be a bit freaked out,” Perkins said. “This isn’t a game we’re playing. Our concern is the safety first, not about someone’s feelings.”

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