(Video courtesy of YouTube/NewzFirst)
Former WWE wrestler Shad Gaspard is claiming racial profiling in an incident that occurred just hours prior to Saturday night’s Strikeforce show in Columbus, Ohio. Gaspard was crossing the street with Strikeforce heavyweight Josh Barnett and another friend when an altercation with a motorist prompted police on foot patrol to swoop in to tackle and handcuff the 6’8″ 300-pound Brooklyn, New York native who now lives in Houston, Texas.
In the video above, which was shot by Barnett, a handcuffed Gaspard sprawled out on his stomach on the wet sidewalk can be heard pleading his innocence, inferring that the arrest was motivated by race.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. I wasn’t jaywalking,” Gaspard said. “I was walking on the sidewalk. Is it because I’m big and black?”
When asked by Barnett, “Did you guys see anything violent [from Gaspard]?” witnesses answered resolutely: “No. He didn’t do anything wrong. No. Uh, uh. Nothing.”
In this video shot by another onlooker, Barnett explained what happened.
(Video courtesy of YoutTube/GiovanniJsMommy)
“This guy just wanted to make an arrest. Me and a friend were walking in the street and a car came up behind my buddy and honked at him. They yelled at him through the window and my buddy said, ‘Fuck you!’ to the guy in the car, or whatever,” Barnett recalled. “So then my other friend, who’s now handcuffed, was on the sidewalk walking with us and the cop says, ‘You know people wouldn’t be yelling at you if you weren’t walking in the street.’ Shad goes, ‘Well, there’s plenty of room for these people to go around.’ He starts saying stuff to Shad and they start going at it and this guy starts flexing his muscle and he’s like, ‘Give me your license. I’m going to give you a ticket for jaywalking.’ [Shad's] like, ‘I’m not jaywalking. I’m on the sidewalk.’ Then it just escalated.”
A female witness who seemed disgusted with the display by police said it was an officer who was in the wrong and not Gaspard.
“This could go on the Internet easily. This is wrong. He didn’t do anything. He did nothing. What did they claim, that he spit on ‘em? He didn’t spit on anybody. He did not do nothing. He didn’t do nothing wrong. Hey, you didn’t do nothing wrong. We got it. We got it on video. It’s all on video…The cop did nothing but egg him on the whole time.”
A longtime friend of former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Muhammed King Mo’ Lawal, Gaspard has a background training in MMA and is rumored to have contemplated competing in the sport following his release from the WWE last year. Gaspard set up a tryout with the WWE for Lawal four years ago, but convinced the up-and-coming fighter to put pro wrestling on the back burner until his MMA career is over. Shad, who signed with MMA legend Antonio Inoki’s Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) wrestling Japanese wrestling organization last month says that he is contemplating legal action for his unfair treatment by Columbus the police. He appeared in Columbus court yesterday, but details of what transpired have yet to emerge.