White officer's heartfelt post on pulling over a black teen resonates widely

Story highlights

  • "His voice was quivering. He was genuinely scared," McMillan said
  • McMillan said he couldn't sleep after his shift

(CNN)It's been nearly two weeks since Lt. Tim McMillan, a white police officer, posted a note about his encounter with a black teenager. And the messages are still flooding in.

"I cried after I read it because I have a black son," said one.
    "I might not know you in person but I must admit your light has shone even to some of us here in Kenya," said another.
    Lt. McMillan, who's been police officer for 13 years, can't believe that police-community relations have reached such a point that a simple gesture would resonate so widely.
    One night late last month, he pulled over a teen who was texting and driving in Garden City, Georgia. The driver, he found, was an African-American teen who was "absolutely terrified with his hands up."
    "His voice was quivering. He was genuinely scared," McMillan said.
    That really disheartened him.
    "When I saw this man look up at me...I saw true fear," he told CNN. "There is a problem because if people are feeling this way... why are we not fixing it? Why are we spending all our energy denying there is a problem if there's this many people saying there is a problem."
    McMillan said he tried his best to make the teen feel at ease.
    "I said, 'I just don't want you to get hurt.'"
    But the driver was still shaken.
    "Do you want me to get out of the car?" he asked.
    "No, I don't want you to text and drive," he replied. "I don't want you to get in a wreck. I want your mom to always have her baby boy. I want you to grow up and be somebody. I don't even want to write you a ticket. Just please pay attention, and put the phone down. I just don't want you to get hurt."
    McMillan said he was so taken back by the fear in the teen's eyes he couldn't sleep the morning after his shift.
    "He was not a black kid and I was not a white cop at that point," he said.
    So, he sat down and posted a note on Facebook.
    "I truly don't even care who's fault it is that young man was so scared to have a police officer at his window. Blame the media, blame bad cops, blame protestors, or Colin Kaepernick if you want. It doesn't matter to me who's to blame. I just wish somebody would fix it."
    The messages poured in by the hundreds. People wanting to friend him. People clicking Like. People sharing his post.
    It was an experience that has had a profound impact on him as well, McMillan said.
    He wants to create a nonprofit whose goal is to establish change the way officers police.
    "I feel like as a result of this one incident, I am eyes wide open and I truly believe that we can design and come up with an effective model to provide the policing communities deserve."
    Here is his full post:
    "I pulled a car over last night for texting and driving. When I went to talk to the driver, I found a young black male, who was looking at me like he was absolutely terrified with his hands up. He said, "What do you want me to do officer?" His voice was quivering. He was genuinely scared.
    I just looked at him for a moment, because what I was seeing made me sad. I said, "I just don't want you to get hurt."
    In which he replied, with his voice still shaking, "Do you want me to get out of the car."
    I said, "No, I don't want you to text and drive. I don't want you to get in a wreck. I want your mom to always have her baby boy. I want you to grow up and be somebody. I don't even want to write you a ticket. Just please pay attention, and put the phone down. I just don't want you to get hurt."
    I truly don't even care who's fault it is that young man was so scared to have a police officer at his window. Blame the media, blame bad cops, blame protestors, or Colin Kaepernick if you want. It doesn't matter to me who's to blame. I just wish somebody would fix it."- Lt. Tim McMillan