Student's Juggling Act for Police Officers Causes Controversy

March 9th 2017

Kyle Jaeger

Dash cam footage of an Arkansas college student avoiding a traffic ticket by performing a juggling act has ignited a conversation about racial disparities in policing.

Blayk Puckett, a magician and student at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), was pulled over last Friday for a broken taillight and suspicion of driving under the influence, USA Today reported. UCA police officer Brian McKay entertained the student's request to juggle three bowling pins as part of a field sobriety test, and he ultimately decided against ticketing Puckett.

Twitter users reacted to the local news segment by raising a hypothetical question: What if the driver had been black?

There's no public data available to suggest UCA officers disproportionately target minority drivers. That said, numerous examples of traffic stops turning violent or deadly for black drivers have put the issue on the public's radar.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 13 percent of black drivers were pulled over in 2011, compared to 10 percent of white drivers.

"It's just more fun when you can juggle and have some fun with the officers instead of just the standard traffic stop that’s boring and scary," Puckett told local television station WCVB 5 on Tuesday.

But on Twitter, several users cited recent cases where black drivers weren't given the opportunity to "have some fun" with police. Journalist April Reign referenced the 2016 fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man who was shot seven times during a traffic stop over a broken taillight.

ATTN: reached out to the UCA police department for comment, but a representative was not immediately available.