TRENTON, N.J. – A New York man has admitted making a hoax 911 call that led New Jersey State Police to draw their guns while stopping a van carrying minority teenagers on the New Jersey Turnpike, raising concerns over racial profiling.
Rodney A. Tanzymore, 20, of Queens pleaded guilty Friday to causing a false public alarm.
He faces a sentence of three to five years' probation. The state Division of Criminal Justice will recommend a 90-day jail term as a condition of the probation. Sentencing is set for Sept. 30.
On Nov. 21, 2009, Tanzymore was in a van with 10 other students traveling home with several chaperones from a visit to Howard University in Washington, D.C. The trip was organized by a social service agency.
In pleading guilty, Tanzymore said he phoned 911, described three members of the student group and said they got out of a van at the Woodrow Wilson Service Plaza carrying handguns. He also described the van in which the group was traveling.
Troopers soon spotted the vehicle and were advised by a supervisor to treat the stop as "high risk." Eleven troopers responded, and each of the van's occupants was handcuffed while the vehicle was searched. No weapons were found.
Investigators later traced the call to Tanzymore's cell phone.
After a person involved with the group questioned the credibility of the state police report, the agency released audio of the 911 call and video from in-car cameras to justify their response.
New Jersey State Police were subject to more than 10 years of federal monitoring after the shooting of three unarmed minorities during a 1998 traffic stop on the turnpike that led to allegations of widespread racial profiling.