Sunday Omony Issues an Apology
Back on the 23rd of February (2017), a Calgary Police Constable by the name of Sheldon Hamm pulled Sunday Omony over in her vehicle while performing a traffic stop. Her car ended up being towed, and she was really pissed off about it, to put it mildly. Sunday Omony has a bit of an online following as a vlogger slash blogger, which she soon after issued some pretty serious allegations to. She posted on Instagram, Facebook, made some tweets, and even recorded a video for YouTube about the incident. Sunday alleged the officer was racially profiling her, harassing, and unfairly pulled her over.
Here is what Sunday had said, attached to the YouTube video:
***RACIAL PROFILING AND HARASSMENT: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AS A CITIZEN WHEN DEALING WITH POLICE*** Calgary Police Officer S. Hamm #3853 and his Partner were on 16 Avenue NW. I drove by his Police vehicle and he chose to follow my car. I parked my car to inquire if there was a problem. Officer Hamm was shouting at me as I rolled down my window. He said, they’re searching for a particular vehicle with Marijuana inside and he thinks it’s inside my car.
I handed over my info. and gave him permission to check my car. NO MARIJUANA WAS FOUND! I was NOT the person that these Officers were searching for but Officer Hamm continued to interrogate me non-stop! I told him that I have never smoked cigarettes, marijuana or used any illegal drugs in my life. Then, he asked me if I was drinking. I told him that I was not impaired driving. He didn’t appreciate my cooperation and warned me not to be nice to him. Then he demanded that I get out of my car and go stand at the back of his Police car so they can search my body for drugs and weapons. I agreed. He demanded that I do a breath test in his car.
I agreed. I never saw the results but I assumed everything was fine. He told me that I needed to sign paperwork. Then, I was in shock! Officer Hamm said, he is giving me tickets for not stopping my car, seized my car for 7 days and suspended my licence for 30 days. I kindly asked for his CPS info. He began screaming at me again. I felt powerless and voiceless. A tow-truck came and took my car. I kindly asked Officer for a ride to my home. He refused. He told me to get out of his Police car. He left me by the road. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re innocent. Some Officers are on a power trip and will use their power to exploit people and take advantage of them to push their own personal agenda. His female Partner stood by watching speechless and followed his directions. I was a victim of racial profiling, harassment and set up.
This Officer was determined to find any fault in me. Is there pressure on some Officers to issue tickets and make arrests? I was already guilty in his eyes as soon as he approached my car. This officer hated me so much for no reason. He was very hostile and aggressive. He had no respect for me as a human being. Regardless, I remained calm and cooperative during this awful situation. His anger towards me was sad to witness. I feel sorry for his next target. Officer Hamm should be under investigation. PSS complaint filed with CPS. My experience the day of the incident is not to be graded. I trust that my concerns will be handled better moving forward. I shared my story with my community to raise awareness about racial profiling and harassment because this happens often to so many people. Let’s encourage more victims of racial profiling and harassment by Police to speak up and not bully them into silence. Thanks Friends. ? #CalgaryPolice #YYC #RacialProfiling #Racism
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In addition, here is what Sunday Omony said on Instagram. This is actually what’s called a “repost” on Instagram, that someone named “Phareke” had done (you can see the little double arrow thing on the bottom left of the image, with her account name). It’s worded slightly differently than the above statement, but basically says the same thing: the officer only pulled her over because of her skin colour.
This resulted in the chief of the Calgary Police Roger Chaffin taking to social media himself on March 3rd, to issue his own statement on what happened. You can read it here. As soon as he did, Sunday deleted everything she had put out online. Global and the CBC, among others, picked up the story as well.
The next day, Sunday Omony released another update on her Facebook page, doubling down on the claims against the officer, and saying that what the chief said about driving 20 blocks before pulling over was untrue about their ‘estimate’.
Side note: those ‘estimates’ are provided by GPS tracking. I’ve been lucky enough to go on a Calgary Police ride along, and learned so much from it. Every single thing the officers do is tracked and logged and reviewed. Vehicles all have dash cams, everything is recorded and looked at. Even if they flick their lights on, they need to provide a good reason for doing so. If you ever have the opportunity to go on a ride along, please do it, it’ll really open your eyes. Perhaps Sunday Omony should try and do that, I think she could learn a lot from it.
It’s been almost a month now since this all took place. Today, Sunday Omony released an update to the situation on her Facebook page. Nothing to Instagram or YouTube, however. Twitter has a link to her FB post. I suspect this will be the final posting or mention of what happened (unless the officer decides to sue her).
I’m going to guess that Sunday saw the video of the dash cam and it’s pretty clear whatever happened, happened. I would absolutely love to see this video. Hopefully the Calgary Police release it. I doubt they will. It would be an excellent deterrent for other people making up baseless allegations in the future.
It’s pretty close to an apology, but she doesn’t actually retract any of her claims or use the words “I’m sorry”. Kind of disappointing, but at least she acknowledged that what went down wasn’t racial profiling, I guess. Hopefully she did actually learn some things from this whole fiasco, and won’t just jump to conclusions in the future when dealing with the Calgary Police. I get that she was super upset, but trying to destroy the career of an officer over this? So not cool. Kudos to the chief for stepping in and shutting it down as he did.
I wanted to toss this quick blog post together as I think what happened is very serious, and maybe others can learn from it. Of course there are some crappy officers out there, the ‘bad apples’ we hear about in American news so very often, but in Calgary here, they’re very few and far between. Living downtown, I’ve had many personal dealings with Calgary Police (I even called them less than 24hrs ago after seeing an assault along 8th street), as well as seeing them deal with many many different people, and not once have I ever suspected any of them as being racist or holding any prejudice. Has it happened? Most certainly. I’d be foolish to think CPS are perfect. But there are consequences to actions, and any officer that truly holds feelings of hate inside them, isn’t going to last very long.
This is actually a pretty good example of why police should wear body cams. Thankfully the dashcam recorded what happened, but it wouldn’t have been as solid as a body cam. They protect both the police, and citizens alike. Hopefully they do introduce them soon. For the record, I’d love to see the dashcam video of what happened.
To end, it would be pretty cool to see Sunday Omony make one last update with an actual sincere apology to the officer, to the force, and to her social media following for what she said, not just a bland and indirect “things are fine now” Facebook post.
UPDATE! April 5th 2017.
Sunday Omony posted one further update. A full apology. Everything she said about Constable Sheldon Hamm was blown out of proportion and she’s sorry.
Wish they had released the video.