A music video showing a Hearne police officer pointing a gun at an unarmed black man sparked controversy on social media last week, but Hearne officials still aren't saying much about it.
It remains unclear who at the city authorized the officer to appear in the video wearing a city uniform and using a patrol car. The musician, Larry "L-Dub" Workman, said it was approved by city officials, but it remains unclear who specifically approved it.
Some on social media criticized the officer, Randall Barrow, for appearing in the video in his uniform, while others praised him for trying to peacefully send a message while the national debate rages on about race relations and police officers. According to the most recent census data, Hearne had 4,690 residents -- 44.8 percent black and 40 percent white.
Former Robertson County Judge Jan Roe watched the video, and while she isn't sure if she would have approved it had she been making the decision, she recognizes the point some have. She said even though she doesn't see police in the way they were depicted in most of the music video, there are some who do.
"There is a lack of trust -- whether you agree with it or not, it exists," she said. "The Hearne Police Department recognizes that and has chosen to try to repair that perception rather than simply ignore it and disagree with it."
She said her way of thinking about the divisive issue was changed when she watched the eulogy of Dallas Police Officer Michael Smith, who was killed almost two weeks ago during a shooting in Dallas that left five officers dead. The officer giving the eulogy apologized to people who felt like police didn't care about them. He apologized for the misdeeds and wrongs of the few officers who caused distrust toward law enforcement. Roe said it's something that can be learned from.
"If for whatever reason -- right or wrong -- a group, a race, a religion feels ostracized or targeted, whether I agree with it or not, they still feel that way and that is what we have to assuage," she said. "Acknowledging that they feel that way, whether you agree with it or not, is the first step in curing it."
Roe added that Barrow -- the officer who appeared in the video -- was praised for his courage in January when he tried to save a mother and daughter from their burning home. By the time police and firefighters arrived at the scene, much of the home was engulfed in flames. The woman, Wanda Vinton, and her daughter Cheyenne were killed in the fire, and William Davenport has been indicted on arson and murder charges in connection to the blaze.
Interim City Manager John Naron said last week he was looking into the video, and that he'd have more information later. He didn't have any updates Monday.
"We've got a lot of stuff going on," he said. "I only saw [the video] once. We're still looking into it. I don't really have an opinion on it one way or the other now."
He said earlier this week that he hadn't heard much about the video from anybody at city hall.
Councilman Rodrick Jackson said he heard about the video, but wanted to keep an open mind before he watched it. He was accused of inappropriate conduct with a minor in May -- accusations he and his lawyer say are politically motivated and false -- but charges have not yet been filed.
He said he knows the officer in the video and said he was a "great guy."
"Hearne has some great officers now, from the chief on down," Jackson said.
Hearne City Councilwoman Shirley Harris said she hadn't seen the video and didn't want anything to do with it.
"That's rumor and gossip," she said. "We have too many problems in Hearne that need our attention."