L.A. Radio Host Recalls Encounter With Police at Age 12

Mo' Kelly says he is no stranger to being approached with guns drawn.

There was a lot of thought-provoking discussion last night on KFI AM 640’s The Tim Conway Jr. Show about this week’s events in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas. When guest host Mark Thompson opened the phone lines up to local law enforcement, he heard from several cops who carefully explained why they likely would have done the same thing as the officer involved in the Philando Castile incident.

Thompson was also joined in-studio at one point by producer and KFI on-air colleague Mo’ Kelly (pictured), who explained that as a black man he has had a number of tense encounters with police, all of which connect to that “first moment” of contact. Kelly started by detailing the earliest of these incidents, which took place when he was 12. He was in the car with his mother and had pulled into the parking lot of a bank in Torrance, Calif.:

“She left me in the passenger side of the car while she went in to the bank to conduct her business. She was in the bank a little longer than usual; I would say 15-20 minutes. And then a cop car pulled up to the right of where my mother’s car was parked, about 30 feet away, on the other side of the lot.”

“The cop came up straight to the car, within maybe five or six feet of me, and put a gun to my head. Did not say anything other than, ‘Get your damn hands up!’ or something like that. And I put them up in that position. He did not say anything after that. I don’t know if he was waiting for something, some other command, on his radio. And I was in that position, for a good 60 seconds at least.”

“And there are people outside watching this unfold… And all of a sudden, he darts away and into the bank. And I think back, if I had flinched or moved in another way, he was ready to shoot me… What I didn’t know at the moment was the bank was being robbed, like a silent alarm.”

When he told his mother what had transpired, she went back in to the bank to confront the officers. Later on, by way of partial explanation, a cop said of young Kelly, “Well, he does have a slight bit of a mustache, he appears older than he is.”

In the same conversation, Kelly recalled another incident that took place when he was 42. As he was driving home from work in the same community of Torrance around 1 a.m., he was pulled over by sheriff’s deputies with guns drawn and eventually told the reason was a non-functioning front headlight. When Kelly got home and checked his headlights, they were both working.

During that conversation with the deputies, Kelly was asked where he was going, where he was coming from, and so on. “I don’t know if the assumption was I stole the car, or I wasn’t where I was supposed to be,” he remembered. Kelly, who has never engaged in criminal activity, told Thompson there have been about a half-dozen other times during the course of his life where he has been approached by police, with guns drawn.

Photo via: Twitter

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.