Booker recalls police officer drawing gun on him, accusing him of stealing car

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerLawmakers gear up for spending bill, infrastructure votes Booker: End of police reform negotiations a 'frustrating experience' Sunday shows - All eyes on spending votes MORE (D-N.J.) in a new interview said that a California police officer drew a gun on him and accused him of stealing his own car when he was a college student. 

Booker, who grew up in suburban New Jersey, told Politico that “the fear was at its highest in my life” during his time in the predominantly white Northern California area of Palo Alto while a student at Stanford University.

The Democratic lawmaker said his racist encounters with police “started racking up” after his parents bought him a car to use while at school. 


Booker recounted to Politico that in one incident, police stopped him and accused him of stealing the car. 

“It seemed like half the police force came out and they kept me, sitting in my car, screaming at me commands," he said. 

"And ultimately the only excuse they gave me was that I fit the description of somebody that they were looking for,” Booker added. 

The elected official previously recounted the experience in remarks on the Senate floor last year in the days following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, which sparked a wave of civil unrest across the country. 

Booker during his address to fellow lawmakers remembered “being followed by mall security guards, being accused or stopped, being looked at with suspicion, and experience after experience after experience with police.”

He then read from a column he wrote as a student for Stanford’s newspaper describing the encounter with police when a gun was drawn on him. 


Booker said that officers told him, “Turn off the engine! Put your keys, driver’s license, registration and insurance on the hood now! Put your hands on the steering wheel and don’t even think of moving.” 

“Five police cars. Six officers surrounded my car, guns ready,” he continued. “Thirty minutes I sat praying and shaking, only interrupted by the command, 'I said, don’t move!' ”

The new interview with the former Democratic presidential candidate comes as he is negotiating with Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottBooker: End of police reform negotiations a 'frustrating experience' Sunday shows - All eyes on spending votes Tim Scott says police reform talks collapsed with Dems over funding MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassBass officially enters Los Angeles mayor's race Tim Scott says police reform talks collapsed with Dems over funding Democrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol MORE (D-Calif.) on a police reform bill. 

Despite months of behind-the-scenes talks, the lawmakers do not appear close to the deal, with Scott telling reporters last week that if a deal could be reached, it would have to be done by the end of June. 

“I think it’s June or bust,” he said. “I think we have three weeks in June to get this done.”

President Biden had called on lawmakers to reach a deal on police reform by May 25, the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder. 

The House has already twice passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level, overhaul qualified immunity and create a national police misconduct registry.