Law Student Lied About Police Misconduct

A couple of weeks ago, the Virginia Law Weekly published a letter from a UVA law student alleging that he was a victim of police misconduct and racial profiling. Johnathan Perkins—who is black—provided a detailed story about how he was stopped by two white university police officers, questioned and searched, and when he asked for their badge numbers, they refused to tell him. Now he admits that he made it all up, Sharon Fitzgerald writes in the Daily Progress. The 25-year-old says that he “wrote the article to bring attention to the topic of police misconduct,” but that “the events in the article did not occur.” UVA police had opened an investigation in the matter, but as they looked into dispatch records and tapes of radio calls, they found that his story didn’t add up. Perkins will not be charged with filing a false police report, says Chief Michael Gibson, because the department doesn’t want to inhibit people from coming forward with legitimate claims of misconduct.

10 Responses to “Law Student Lied About Police Misconduct”

  • When I first read his letter, the day it was published, it struck me as fishy. I figured I’d give it a day or two—if there was anything to it, it seemed like the officers would be suspended and UVA would issue a press release. And then…nothing. A few days later, somebody e-mailed me to ask why I hadn’t written about it here. I felt a bit guilty for not writing about it—what if this was a real case of misconduct, and I wasn’t helping to call attention to it?—but I was still too doubtful to write anything.

    Although it turned out I was right, it could have easily gone the other way. People like Perkins turn people like me into cynics, or at least they will if I don’t watch myself. Now some number of people—dozens, hundreds, I don’t know—will volunteer, when the topic of profiling comes up, that it doesn’t really happen, that the people saying it happens are liars. And they’ll think they know that because of Johnathan Perkins. Jerk.

  • Former Teacher says:

    Did he actually file a police report? I think he’s not being charged with filing a false police report, at least in part, because he didn’t file a report. He wrote an article, and then the university investigated the veracity of his article.

    I do think he should be investigated by the Honor Committee.

  • Claire says:

    Wow. If the Honor Committee is expelling kids who lie about why a paper is turned in late (and they are), they are duty-bound to go after someone who does something like this. Community of trust, after all. And he’s a law student? That seems to me a massive ethics problem for a future lawyer….

  • NancyDrew says:

    Certainly, there should be consequences to what he did, if he portrayed the police misconduct to be true.

  • danpri says:

    Sounds as if VA LAw did very little due diligence. Really, would they publish anything sent, or simply inflammatory letters that meet their own expectations?

    What if I sent in a letter saying I was racially profiled for a mugging when, as a single middle aged male I went strolling through a predominantly black neighborhood? Or would I be judged racist?

    I agree that he is a jerk. A racist jerk who has prolly set the cause back, rather than forward.

  • Cville Eye says:

    When I saw him on TV, I couldn’t figure out why the police would have identified him as black and approach him in the first place. I could have walked by him all day long and not have figured it out. I think it would be interesting to investigate his origins – after all he has proven that he is a liar. We are inundated with lying politicians and lying lawyers. If I was one of his teachers I would devote one whole class period to holding him up to ridicule in front of his classmates. He would never lie again.
    Obviously he is fighting for a cause he knows nothing about because he would have written about that instead of fabricating an incident.

  • Dahmius says:

    I think he has a bright future as an attorney as he has apparently mastered the main attribute for success in that field.

  • Scott Johnson says:

    He may not have been charged with filing a false report, but anyone want to give odds on how long it’ll be before he finds himself with a ticket for something like capital jaywalking? :)

  • your real name says:

    Keep an eye on this guy. This isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of him. He’s city councilor or city manager material for sure. That is if RWSA doesn’t scoop him up first.

  • Michael says:

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

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