TRENTON, N.J. – A man whose hoax 911 call led state troopers to draw their guns while stopping a van carrying minority teenage students was sentenced Thursday to 90 days in jail.
Rodney A. Tanzymore, of New York City, is black and was one of the people in the van. He also received three years of probation at his sentencing in Trenton and was ordered to continue mental health counseling.
Tanzymore had pleaded guilty in July to causing a false public alarm. But the 20-year-old Queens resident, who lived with his grandparents and worked at Macy's, won't have to serve the jail term because he received credit for time served following his February arrest.
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 services agency.
In pleading guilty, Tanzymore said he called 911, described three members of the student group and said they got out of a van at a service plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike while carrying handguns. He also described the van in which the group was traveling.
Troopers soon spotted the van 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 van was searched. No weapons were found.
Investigators later traced the call to Tanzymore's cell phone.
After a person involved with the student group questioned the credibility of a state police report about the stop, the state police released audio of the 911 call and video from in-car cameras to justify their response.
The police response initially had raised concerns among activists over racial profiling.
The 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 led to allegations of widespread racial profiling.