Facebook post on teen mistaken as suspect grabs community attention

PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) -- A post on Facebook detailing one young man’s detainment during a crime scene investigation took Papillion by storm Tuesday. The police department said it was a case of the young man being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Following the snow storm Monday evening, Papillion police received a call from a woman who told dispatch a man was at her door, calling her names, and she believed he was using a brick to possibly break through the screen door.

Police began canvassing the area nearby after the victim told dispatch the suspect had run off.

“Our description we were given by the victim was a black male in a dark, puffy winter coat,” Papillion Police Chief Scott Lyons said.

Jamar Adams, 17, was about one block away from the alleged home intrusion and attempted burglary. The teen had been going around the neighborhood dressed in a ski mask and winter gear asking if neighbors needed their driveways shoveled for a little extra cash.

Police, though, determined Adams matched the suspect description they were given, and the footprints in the snow was believed to have matched the shoes Adams was wearing.

“All I did was go up to the door and ask if I could shovel. I didn’t touch anyone’s door. I just rang the doorbell,” Adams said.

The teen was placed in handcuffs, per police policy, and placed into the back of the cruiser. The teen sat in the back of the cruiser for more than 30 minutes.

“It was improperly handled because had they gotten out and properly investigated and saw the yard he was shoveling and talked to the neighbor, it would’ve ended there,” Adams’ father Jamar Adams, Senior said.

The homeowner where Adams had been shoveling is the one who wrote the post on Facebook. He said he advocated for the teen, telling officers what had actually happened.

“I’m glad that he stepped up because a lot of people don’t. They’re scared to say stuff and post stuff to social media to let people know. I was glad that he did that,” Adams said.

Chief Lyons said officers said the homeowner’s help actually exonerated Adams, and he commends the gentleman for speaking up.

Lyons told 6 News the situation was unfortunate and Adams’ mother was called once they found it was appropriate.

“I don’t want this young man to have a negative contact with law enforcement and feel like that’s going to be the rest of his life because it’s not,” Chief Lyons said. “He did nothing wrong. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and we really appreciate the fact that he was very cooperative. He actually helped out a little bit.”

Police spent hours on Tuesday responding to questions from Adams’ mother and to the Facebook post itself.

“I think it’s very important for people to comment about their community, and I think it’s a very healthy conversation when it comes to what police do and how we go about our business,” Chief Lyons said.

Chief Lyons stands behind his officers’ actions and said they were simply following up on what they initially heard. Adams and his father, though, believe the department could’ve handled it all differently.

“They could’ve communicated with him differently, then spoke with the neighbors, then make their decision before they decided to do the handcuffing and putting him in the back of the car and all that other stuff,” Adams, Sr. said.

The Chief and the city said it’s situations like this where information gets misconstrued because of a lack of understanding for what law enforcement do. They recommend community members attend their Citizen Patrol Academy, which will run Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. between March 5 and April 23. Class sizes are limited, and people interested need to apply online.

The suspect in the alleged home intrusion and attempted burglary is still on the loose, and police ask anyone with information to contact the police department.

Adams returned to the home Tuesday evening where he was detained. The homeowner told him Monday evening to come back, which he did to finish the job.