911 calls released from Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers' alleged profiling incident with John Henson
Worker: 'I don't feel comfortable letting them in'
10:54 AM, Oct 23, 2015
3:54 PM, Oct 23, 2015
Whitefish Bay Police have released the 911 calls from inside Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers, as Milwaukee Bucks player John Henson stood locked outside the store.
Henson says he felt racially profiled as employees called police on him, but employees say police told them the SUV Henson was driving may have been stolen.
The store owner says what happened is a big misunderstanding, and apologized personally to Henson. But now, we’re getting more insight into what unfolded behind closed doors.
Henson called Schwanke-Kasten last Friday. He wanted to buy his first Rolex. Little did he know, his call was prompting a call to police.
Store Employee: We just had a couple suspicious phone calls lately at this store, and we were just wondering if for the next hour, one of the Whitefish Bay cops could park in front of the store until we close.
911 Operator: What were the phone calls about?
Store Employee: They were just asking about what time they're going to close. They just didn't sound like they were legitimate customers.
In response, the store closed early that day. When Henson came by with friends the doors were already locked. An officer in an unmarked squad car ran the dealer plates on Henson’s red SUV. They were from Kunes Country Ford-Lincoln, but a manager at the dealership could not determine who the car belonged to. The officer says he told the manager “four black males excited the vehicle.” To which the manager replied, “that’s not our normal clientele.”
Henson returned to the store in the SUV Monday.
Store Employee: "The officer told us if they came back, we're supposed to call again. They're at our front door now and we're not letting them in. I am hiding in the office. I don't want them to see me out there. We're pretending like we're closed. They're looking in the window. They're just kind of pacing back and forth. I don't feel comfortable letting them in. I just really don't at all."
Responding officers determined one of the men outside was Henson, and told the store to open-up for him.
911 Operator: I have officers there asking you to come to the front door if you would please?
Store Employee: Why? I don't feel like it. Why do I have to come to the door. Can the officer come to the back? I'm not coming to the front door.
After unlocking the doors, employees requested the officer stay. The officer says “I refused to stay in the store while he shopped.”
Henson left the store shortly after.
Part of Henson’s contract with the Bucks is to get a vehicle from a local dealer.
TODAY'S TMJ4 reached out to Schwanke-Kasten for comment regarding the 911 calls. A spokesperson for the store says some of the employees had been victims of armed robberies in the past, and they were under the impression from police that the SUV was stolen.
The spokesperson also referred us to the store owner’s previous statement, which reads in part: "racial profiling is never acceptable, and we deeply regret how the circumstances unfolded.”
This past Sunday, the store owner notified police about a burglary at a jewelry store in Green Bay. In that case, the burglar was a white man. The last time police were called to Schwanke-Kasten in Whitefish Bay was in July, for a report of two black males speeding down the alley.
We also reached out to Henson. Earlier this week he said he doesn’t want anyone else to go through what he did.