OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A black delivery driver says he was overcome with emotion while recording himself and a black co-worker being blocked into a gated Oklahoma City neighborhood for more than an hour by a white resident who demanded to know why they were there.
Travis Miller, who delivers home appliances and furniture, captured the incident Monday in a Facebook Live video that has gone viral. Miller and many people who posted comments about the video felt the encounter was racially motivated.
“I just know that emotionally, it was hard to maintain restraint, especially when I’m dealing with death in the family, two family members within two days of each other,” Miller told KFOR-TV on Wednesday, though he didn’t elaborate on the deaths. “I just did the best I could to not make a bad situation worse.”
Miller said his client had given him the code to get through the neighborhood’s gate. After completing the delivery, a man who identified himself as David Stewart and a board member of the homeowners association can be seen on the Facebook video questioning Miller and his colleague about why they were on his street during the tense confrontation.
The Associated Press tried calling a phone number listed as Stewart’s on Thursday, but it had been disconnected. KFOR-TV showed a reporter ringing what is believed to be the doorbell of his home but getting no response.
“Got me blocked in so I can’t leave,” Miller said, referring to the man who was blocking them in with his car.
“I want to know where you’re going?” said Stewart, who told Miller that he was driving on a private street.
Miller then responded, “It’s none of your business. I’m going out, that’s where I’m going.”
While ignoring a barrage of questions about his reason for being in the community, Miller remained seated in his truck and recorded the interaction on Facebook.
“I was gripping the steering wheel, and I made sure I kept my seat belt on,” he told KOCO-TV. “I locked the doors, tried to keep the window up.”
About thirty minutes into the discussion, another homeowner joined the man in his inquiry.
“All we want to know is why you’re in here and who gave you the gate code,” the second homeowner said. “That’s all we need to know.”
After Miller refused to reveal his client’s personal information, the man who identified himself as Stewart said he was calling the police.
“I don’t know what prompted him to, or what has happened in that neighborhood, for him to respond the way he did,” Miller said.
Miller can seen in the video with tears streaming down his face while he, too, calls the authorities.
“I knew if I get out this truck, no matter what happened, I would have been in the wrong,” he said. “I always say to myself, ‘I’m going to go home to my wife and my kids.’”
Police did not go to the scene because the original caller phoned back and said officers were no longer needed, police Capt. Larry Withrow said.
“If our original caller tells us they no longer need us, unless we have reason to believe there is something wrong or something illegal happening, we cancel the call,” Withrow said.
About an hour after both parties said they were calling the police, Miller said the man moved his car because his customer arrived at the scene and confirmed that he had just received a delivery.