After numerous complaints about drivers running a stop sign at 173rd and Woolworth streets, Omaha police Officer John Hinige found himself at that very intersection, watching for offenders.
Virgil Walker was one of them.
“I stopped him because he was a complaint that I had to go sit on,” Hinige said.
“I was thinking, ‘Dang it, I didn’t see you,'” Walker said.
Officer Hinige wrote Walker a ticket, but their exchange didn’t end there.
“The thing that made me remember it was he asked for the photo. That caught me off guard,” Hinige said.
Walker, a Black man and local pastor said he wanted to “dispel the standard narrative,” asking Hinige to take a selfie with him.
“This image won’t go near as far as the negative story, however, I thought I’d post it anyway,” Walker said, “Beyond the Black guy, white cop narrative. This was the kind of respectful exchange that I’ve come to expect whenever I interact with officers.”
Walker posted the photo of he and Hinige on Facebook, and it has since gone viral, with more than 83,000 shares as of this writing.
It all came as a surprise to the officer.
“People have told me it’s gone viral. I don’t even know what really going viral is,” Hinige said, with a laugh, “It makes me feel good that I’m out there, conducting myself in an appropriate way that people can see where I am showing respect and just treating people as fairly as I can,” Hinige said.
Walker wants more people to use his hashtag #complysaveslives.
“If there’s an incident where someone does comply and they lose their life, that’s a horrific incident. It’s not more horrific because someone’s ethnicity, it’s not more horrific because I have more melanin in my skin,” Walker said.
With more unrest in Minnesota following the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by police and the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, Hinige calls the timing of the post uncanny.
“There’s just no words to describe how odd it is that’s kind of all happening at the same time. I’m just thankful for the good reaction it’s been receiving,” Hinige said.