Black College Swimmer Has Life Threatened, Gun Pointed At Forehead By Police

“Jaylan Butler said officers threatened to blow his head off before it became clear that they mistook him for a suspect.”

Watching all of these white Presidential candidates discuss Black issues, with no Black people able to offer some real perspective these privileged and delusional candidates is frustrating. The nightmarish and traumatic events that white law enforcement inflicts on young Black men further reinforces the dire need for people of color to be involved in the national conversation. 

Jaylan Butler, a Black student at Eastern Illinois University returning from an out-of-state tournament with his teammates and coaches said several police officers handcuffed him, pointed a gun at his head and threatened to blow his head off. They were allegedly searching for a “wanted suspect.”  

Sounds familiar right? Black men have long been killed, incarcerated beaten and abused based on mistaken identity. 

Butler, 20, is a sophomore swimmer at the school and filed a lawsuit in January in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois for unlawful search and seizure, false arrest and excessive force. 


“Butler said he was traveling on a bus with his team last February when it pulled over shortly after 8 p.m., near a rest stop in East Moline, Illinois, so the players could stretch their legs. 

Butler got off the bus and took a selfie in front of a sign on the road and was shredded back to the bus when several officers pulled up. 

The officers approached with guns drawn according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which is representing Butler in his lawsuit.” 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called on Friday for a “thorough and transparent” investigation into Butler’s arrest.

“I’m deeply troubled by what I’ve read about how Jaylan Butler, an African-American athlete at EIU, was mistreated by law enforcement in East Moline,” he said in a Facebook post. “It’s unacceptable for any young person to feel unsafe and disrespected anywhere in this state — but every day, too many young people of color live through it. 

It’s an admirable response, but we’ve heard it all before as we wept over funeral caskets or protested for wrongly convicted young men of color to be liberated from the chains of systemic government oppression. 

According to the lawsuit, “the officers shouted at Butler to put his hands up and get down. He complied. The suit then states that several officers forced the scared young student to the snowy ground as he was handcuffed, with one putting his knee on the students back and another pressing on his neck. 

One of the officers squatted down in front of him put a gun to his forehead and said, “I’m going to blow your fucken head off,” the suit says. 

At first, Butler told NBC News that he thought everything was a big misunderstanding and tried to stay chill throughout the traumatizing ordeal. 

After his life was threatened, he says his “thought process shifted.” 

“I felt numb. I didn’t really know what to expect,” he explained. 

Even after members of the swim team got off the bus and explained to police officers that Butler was not their perp, they obnoxiously and racistly still put him in the back of the police car. 

They wouldn’t let a little misunderstanding stop the initiation of the Black criminal  Butler saw the gun, had his life threatened, felt the cuffs. All that was left to complete the indoctrination process was to put him into the back of a cop car. 

Eventually, Butler got his ID from the bus, showed the officers and they let him go. 

According to the lawsuit, “Butler was never told why he was detained and arrested. It also alleges that officers never documented the stop that night. 

The East Moline police chief, Jeff Ramsey, told NBC that none of the officers named in the suit — East Moline officer Travis Staes, Hampton officer Ethan Bush, and Rock Island sheriff’s deputies Jack Asquini and Jason Pena —  were disciplined. 

Of course, the story doesn’t end there for Butler, who is currently undergoing therapy for the trauma and he’s seeking unspecified damages. 

Evan Sholudko, head swim coach for Eastern Illinois University, said the team is supportive. But Butler should have a huge support system, bringing light to this situation, helping him get through this devastating dagger to his pride, mind, and belief in the law enforcement community. 

These blatant deadly and racist attacks on innocent Black men by police officers is still a problem, four years after Colin Kaepernick sacrificed his NFL career to bring global attention to these atrocities.,

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.