An unidentified woman snapped a photo of 55-year-old Ike Iloputaife walking his dogs in Vista, Calif.; she claimed she went for the photo-op because he was “a stranger.”
Hours after Iloputaife walked his dogs, a nearby home was burglarized. Among a group of surveillance photos released to the public was the picture captured of Iloputaife, naming the then-unknown person in the photo as a “person of interest.”
By the way, the suspect the police were looking for was described as between 20 and 30 years old, 6′-6’5″ and 260 pounds. Iloputaife is in his 50s, 5’9″ and less than 200 pounds.
But he and the suspect are both Black.
“In this person’s head I became a person of interest because of my skin color,” Iloputaife wrote in a post on the Nextdoor App. “Asking to call the police on a black person in this highly charged political and cultural environment can be a danger for the black person.”
Vista County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Jack Reynolds told the San Diego Union Tribune that the heinous nature of the crime led the police to release the photo. Firearms and a safe were stolen from the residence. And, the department had no other leads.
“With a crime where we have no leads other than surveillance footage, we’re going to look at all information that comes in as a potential lead,” he said. “Are they going out to do surveillance on potential targets, maybe sending someone out of foot”
Reynolds added that the department was hoping someone would recognize the dogs, two exotic Borzois.
However, an err in identification — or just outright racism — can have deadly side effects, especially when it comes to Black men. The “good deed” of a neighborhood watch cost Trayvon Martin his life. And in 2017, police disproportionately killed Black people, according to a Mapping Police Violence report.
Iloputaife lives in Vista with his husband, Jim Watson. They lived in France together before settling in Vista. The Tribune reported that the couple’s experiences since returning to the states have been very different compared to when they were in France:
“Watson said in all their years in France, they never experienced any prejudice over their mixed-race partnership or sexuality. But just a month after they moved to Vista in June 2017, Iloputaife said a man driving a truck past him in their neighborhood shouted slurs out the window.”