A University of Virginia law student who wrote an editorial claiming racial profiling by campus police now says he made the story up.
Johnathan Perkins, a law student set to graduate in two weeks, admitted he made up a story that UVa police stopped him on March 31 and mistreated him, according to a UVa news release.
Perkins, 25, who talked to several media agencies about his claim, including The Daily Progress, did not return a request for comment for this story Friday.
His original letter to the editor alleging racial profiling by campus police ran in the April 22 edition of the Virginia Law Weekly, the UVa law school’s newspaper.
“I wrote the article to bring attention to the topic of police misconduct,” Perkins wrote in a written statement to UVa officials that was released Friday. “The events in the article did not occur.”
Perkins will not face criminal charges for making a false report, the release said.
School officials opened up an internal investigation into Perkins’ allegations after UVa Police Chief Michael A. Gibson received a carbon copy of Perkins’ letter.
Gibson said he hopes Perkins’ false claims will not keep other students from coming forward if they have problems with police.
“I recognize that police misconduct does occur,” Gibson said in the release. “Pressing charges in this case might inhibit another individual who experiences real police misconduct from coming forward with a complaint. I want to send the message just how seriously we take such charges and that we will always investigate them with care and diligence.”
During their investigation, campus police reviewed dispatch records, personnel rosters, police radio tapes and interviews with Perkins.
Gibson said he received letters from citizens concerned about the possible wrongdoing by his officers.
“The student cooperated with the investigation,” Gibson said. “But details and facts of his story came into question as the investigation unfolded.”
In an interview with The Daily Progress last month, Perkins said he wrote the letter to bring awareness about the issue of racial profiling.
“A big problem is people don’t know [racial profiling] goes on,” Perkins said. “I think it’s way more common than we think and I wanted to write the letter to bring awareness and give a practical example of when the law isn’t applied even-handily. I don’t think this would have happened to a white person.”
Perkins said he never planned to file a complaint against the officers and felt the school took his claims seriously.
“I’m not concerned with who did this,” Perkins said last month. “In my mind, I knew they would never confess to it … it would be the officers’ word against mine, so I’m OK with not finding out who did it. It’s not going to right any wrongs or make me feel better.”
Leonard W. Sandridge, UVa executive vice president and chief operating officer, said campus police did everything they could to look into Perkins’ claims.
“I am pleased that the student realized what he did was wrong and that he was willing to come forth to acknowledge his mistake,” Sandridge said. “We were distressed when we learned of his allegations. We took them very seriously and launched an immediate investigation on his behalf.”