MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis real estate investor inspecting a house he was purchasing says he was harassed by a neighbor who called police on him, according to WREG.
The neighbor he said was harassing him claimed he was acting suspiciously at a vacant property known to attract crime — and said she wasn’t the one who dialed the police.
Michael Hayes’ video has been viewed nearly 2 million times on YouTube since it was posted May 5.
Hayes says he was looking at a house he had under contract to buy near the University of Memphis. He put a sign in the yard, waved at a woman next door, then began pulling a board off the door so he could take photos of the property, he said.
That’s when neighbor Tiffany Albert yelled at him that he couldn’t do that and threatened to call police, he said. He began recording and waited for two Memphis police officers to arrive.
“This is what we go through,” Hayes says to the camera. “Young black man out here trying to do what’s right, and we get the police called on us.”
On Wednesday, Albert told WREG that she’s not racist, adding that she is “Spanish” and her boyfriend is black. Albert said she knows the owner and takes care of the lawn.
She said the vacant house is a hot bed for crime, so she was worried when she woke up to the sound of the boards being pulled off, and claimed Hayes wouldn’t show her paperwork or a business card until police showed up. Hayes said in the video that he showed her the sign that he posts in yards so residents know why he’s there. He later told police that he didn’t give her the paperwork from the owner because he felt threatened and didn’t want her coming close to him.
The video shows Memphis officers arrive and explain to Albert that Hayes has a right to be on the property. When Albert tries to tell Hayes, “Hurry up, do it and get out,” one officers tells her, “No, no, no, he can take his time.” Her partner adds, “He can take all day.”
Both officers agreed to Hayes’ request that they wait for five minutes while he took the pictures, and the three even posed for a selfie after he got done.
The Memphis Police Dept. later released a statement saying the video shows the officers responding to a complaint in a professional way.
“We are thankful to Mr. Hayes for recording a positive interaction with MPD officers and for sharing the true image of what our officers represent,” the department said.