MOBILE, Ala. – Police in one Alabama city said they helped stage a man's arrest so that he could really just kneel down and propose to his terrified girlfriend.
With the help of two officers, Daiwon McPherson, 33, tricked his girlfriend, Shawna Blackmon, into thinking he was on the run and had a gun. The officers converged on the couple and other members of their biker community outside a gas station Friday night. Blackmon said the scenario seemed real.
"I was scared," Blackmon, 28, told WPMI-TV. "I said he was going to jail, they are going to shoot him."
A video viewed nearly 10 million times online by Monday shows the officers rushing up to the couple with stun guns, ordering McPherson down. Blackmon, terrified, stands between them with her hands up. Then, McPherson asks her to take his 'gun' from his pocket. She pulls out an engagement ring instead, and is overcome with emotion as one of the officers holsters his stun gun and hugs her.
"I really wanted to bring the bike life and the police together," McPherson told Al.com. "I can't believe I actually pulled this off."
The stunt has launched a lively online debate about whether this was a public relations win for the Mobile Police Department, or a risky escapade that could have gone wrong.
Police spokesman Terrence Perkins said McPherson approached police earlier in the day with the idea, which was run up the chain of command for approval from an assistant police chief.
Perkins, who attended the stunt to ensure all went smoothly, said no guns were involved and added that the Tasers weren't loaded. Police also made sure the scene was safe by informing all other on-duty officers about the scene before the fake call went out.
"At no time was he placed in any danger or anyone on the scene," Perkins said.
Perkins said police have received some negative comments but that the positive feedback far outweighed the negative. "It actually showed us outside the capacity of writing tickets. It showed that we do have human side as well," the police spokesman said.