D’Arreion Toles just wanted to go home on Friday night, but a white woman blocked the black man from his St. Louis apartment, according to The New York Times. Toles recorded the exchange between him and Hilary Brooke Mueller and posted the video to Facebook where she can be seen demanding Toles to prove he lived in the complex called The Elder Shirt Lofts. He told the publication that the experience left him thinking "like you can’t be who you are in America."
At various points in the video, Toles can be seen being followed by Mueller, who reportedly told him that he needed to show her his key in order to enter his apartment. Toles told The Times that Mueller ultimately said she would call the police on him as she said she felt "uncomfortable" with Toles in the building. "It’s kind of hitting me again, thinking about the whole thing," he said. "It's pretty sad." The New York Times reported that Mueller did not respond for a comment.
In additional remarks to The Times, Toles said that some viewers commented on his video saying that he should have snubbed Mueller with more force. But he didn't agree. "Some people think I should have went after her more," Toles said. "I’m not going to go after her. My whole purpose is to turn this negative into a positive."
In his comments, Toles said that he feared the encounter could have turned dangerous. He told The New York Times that he was reminded of a recent report in Dallas, Texas, where a white police officer, who was not on duty, killed an African-American male in his own apartment. The off-duty officer claimed that she thought it was her apartment. Of Mueller, Toles said, "At the end of the day, why would she call the police on me? I just walked in and went to my house."
Mueller's estranged husband, too, released a video statement on Facebook on Sunday. "I want to take a moment to express my deep disappointment in the incident that took place at Mr. Toles' home," Brandon Mueller, who is half-black and half-white, said. "The individual in the video and I have been separated for a year, and I myself no longer reside at the Elder Shirt Lofts building."
Additionally, he said that he hoped the exchange would not lead to hatred and division — and that he, "as a man of color," had spent most of his life extolling the significance of diversity.
It was an exchange that ultimately cost Mueller her job, according to The New York Times. The publication reported that Mueller's former employer and real estate company, Tribeca-STL, released a statement after the incident. In its statement, officials for Tribeca-STL said, "The Tribeca-STL family is a minority-owned company that consists of employees and residents from many racial backgrounds."
"We are proud of this fact," the company officials added, "and do not and never will stand for racism or racial profiling at our company."