Watch: Black delivery driver records white men blocking truck, questioning him in gated community

Black delivery driver records white men blocking truck, questioning him in gated community

OKLAHOMA CITY — His name stitched on his uniform shirt didn’t help. Neither did his employer’s name on his delivery truck.

Travis Miller, a furniture and appliance delivery driver making a run Monday through a gated Oklahoma City neighborhood, was held up for more than a half-hour by two white men who blocked his truck with a car and demanded to know why he was there, NBC News reported.

Miller is black.

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Miller, who left the confrontation in tears, captured the incident on a 37-minute cellphone video that has since gone viral. As of Friday afternoon, Miller’s video, which he streamed live on Facebook, had been viewed more than 439,000 times and shared more than 14,000 times.

“My intention was never to go viral,” Miller told NBC News Thursday in a phone interview. “My intention was to cover myself in case he called my employer and said I did something other than what I did.”

Miller works for J.B. Hunt Transport Services. His wife, LaShawn Miller, is a medical technician in the U.S. Air Force, according to her Facebook profile.

Monday’s incident comes amid outrage over the Feb. 23 shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, who was gunned down as he ran in a predominantly white neighborhood near his Georgia home. Father and son Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were charged with murder and aggravated assault earlier this month after footage of the shooting was leaked online.

In a separate March 13 incident, Breonna Taylor, an award-winning EMT in Louisville, Kentucky, was shot eight times and killed by police who raided her apartment while executing a search warrant. Taylor, who had no criminal record, was asleep when officers busted down the door.

The man police were looking for not only lived in another part of town but had already been arrested hours earlier, according to a lawsuit filed by Taylor’s mother.

Miller, 42, explained to NBC News that the customer to whom he and a co-worker were delivering had given him the code to get through the gate of the Ashford Hills neighborhood. They made their delivery and were leaving the property when their truck was blocked in by a white Subaru.

The Subaru’s driver, who identified himself as David Stewart, demanded to know why the men were there. NBC News and other media outlets that have reached out to Stewart have been unsuccessful. LaShawn Miller wrote on Facebook that both he and his wife have deleted their social media profiles since Monday’s confrontation.

Stewart, who she dubbed “Gate Code Greg,” also called J.B. Hunt and demanded that her husband destroy the video, she wrote.

“All of the pressure made that man and his wife delete their FB profiles and he actually had the audacity to call my husband’s job and demand that Travis delete the video,” LaShawn Miller wrote. “UMMM NAHHHH!!! We won’t! You will be held accountable and feel all of this heat!”

DAVID STEWART! We see you, buddy!

Posted by LaShawn Robyn Miller on Monday, May 11, 2020

Travis Miller’s Facebook Live video begins with a shot of him looking into the camera.

“I’m trying to leave and I’ve got this super neighbor over here blocking me in so I’m going live,” Miller states. “This is what I’m dealing with right now. This is who I’m dealing with.”

Miller pans the camera to Stewart’s car and then the man himself, who stands nearby talking on his cellphone. His words cannot be made out on the video, but Miller, who later calls his employer to explain the situation, ultimately reveals that Stewart had called the police.

“Napoleon, move out the way,” Miller calls out the window.

“My name is David Stewart,” the man replies.

“I don’t care what your name is. Get out the way,” Miller tells him. “Move out the way, sir. You picked the wrong day. Move out the way.”

Miller told NBC News that he was already under a great deal of strain that day. He is dealing with losing his grandmother and aunt within a day of one another. They died of natural causes.

In the video, Miller states that he had made a U-turn on the property and found himself blocked in by Stewart’s car.

“If I go around him, I’m going to have to drive on somebody’s property, and I don’t want to make a bad situation worse,” Miller says.

Watch the entire video recorded by Travis Miller below. Warning: It contains some explicit language.

Posted by Travis J. Miller Sr. on Monday, May 11, 2020

The video shows the Subaru parked directly in the middle of the narrow street, making the pathway on either side of the car too narrow for the delivery truck to pass without trampling the grass.

As the video continues, Miller is heard asking someone else nearby to get Stewart to move his car.

“Can you tell him to hang up and move so I can leave?” Miller calls out. “Thank you.”

He also repeatedly asks Stewart to move, but Stewart demands to know where Miller is going.

“I’m not moving,” Stewart responds. “All you have to do is tell me where you’re going.”

“It’s none of your business. I’m going out. That’s where I’m going, but you’re in my way,” Miller responds.

Stewart claims that it is his business where Miller and his colleague are going.

“Why?” Miller asks. “Because you’re mayor of the cul-de-sac?”

Stewart tells Miller he is president of the homeowners association and that they are on a private street. Miller reasons with him that if a gate code is needed to enter the property, a resident must have given him that code.

“I’m not going to argue with you anymore,” Stewart says.

“Move out the way then,” Miller says.

Still, Stewart refuses to budge.

“All you have to do is tell me where you’re going,” Stewart says.

“I don’t have to tell you (expletive),” an audibly frustrated Miller responds as Stewart walks away and goes to his car, climbing into the driver’s seat.

Miller calls his boss.

“Tom, it’s a bad day,” he begins.

As Miller explains what is going on, he states he “doesn’t have the mental capacity to deal with this right now.” Still, he remains relatively calm.

He tells the person on the other end of the line that Stewart apparently “wants to play super cop or be Napoleon Dynamite or something.”

Miller theorizes that a low-hanging tree branch that his truck knocked down may have upset the man. The homeowner the tree belongs to saw what happened, however, and told Miller it was fine and moved the branch onto his own property.

“He doesn’t even live on the same street,” Miller says about Stewart. “He just decided that he wants to be neighborhood police.”

As Miller tries to wrap up his phone call, a second white man joins the first. He strolls up to Miller’s open window and asks what’s up.

“I’m trying to leave,” Miller tells him.

The man asks him why. When the delivery driver tells him, like he told Stewart, that it isn’t any of his business, the man posits that it is.

“Did I deliver to your house?” Miller asks.

The man questions whether Miller made a wrong turn into the neighborhood.

“How do I make a wrong turn into a gated neighborhood?” Miller asks. “I need to have the gate code in order to get in, right? That’s common sense, right?”

The gated Oklahoma City community where delivery driver Travis Miller was blocked in by white residents is pictured in an April 2019 Street View image. The men demanded to know what Miller, who is black, was doing there.
The gated Oklahoma City community where delivery driver Travis Miller was blocked in by white residents is pictured in an April 2019 Street View image. The men demanded to know what Miller, who is black, was doing there. (Google)

The second man demands to know why Miller is there. He tells the man it is none of his business.

“This is our neighborhood,” Stewart says, pointing a finger toward the ground.

As the two white men walk away toward Stewart’s car, the second man apparently perceives a threat in Miller’s innocuous words.

“Just so you know, more than you two guys live on this street, too,” Miller calls after them. “You’re not the only ones with gate codes.”

“You’re warning us what?” the second man asks.

“I’m not warning nobody,” Miller says.

“That’s what you said,” the man says.

“I did not,” Miller responds.

As the man continues to argue with him, Miller tells him this is the reason he is recording their interactions. The man pulls out a phone and calls out, “I have a camera, too.”

He appears to mock Miller’s recording of the incident before putting his phone back in his pocket.

“I don’t give a (expletive) what you got,” Miller says.

As the men mill around behind Stewart’s car, Miller refers to them as “Cagney and Lacey,” a pair of female 1980s television police detectives.

As he sits there, he is heard saying he will remain in the truck, with his seat belt on, to ensure the argument remains verbal. A few seconds later, the second man returns to Miller’s window.

“All we want to know is why you’re in here and who gave you the gate code. That’s all we need to know,” the man says.

“Show me your badge,” Miller says.

“I don’t have a badge,” the other man responds.

“Then you don’t have a reason to ask me any questions,” Miller says as the man walks away again. “It’s that simple. Just have your buddy move the car so I can leave.”

Stewart did not move the car until the resident to whom the delivery men had delivered items learned what was happening and arrived. After speaking to the man for a minute, Stewart walked back to his vehicle.

“I bet you he won’t apologize,” Miller told his colleague.

He called out to Stewart, asking him if he was going to call the police to stop them from showing up.

“That’s what I’m doing right now,” Stewart responds. “All you had to do was tell me where you were going.”

“I don’t have to tell you anything,” Miller says.

Stewart did not offer an apology for blocking the men in the neighborhood.

As he prepares to leave the neighborhood, an emotional Miller is seen on the video wiping tears from his eyes.

Miller ultimately called the police himself to ensure that they would not arrive in the neighborhood, find him gone and accuse him of fleeing a scene. He also called his customer -- who apologized profusely for what the men had been put through.

“It wasn’t your fault, sir,” Miller says. “I don’t understand what his need or purpose was for doing that. Normally, I probably could have handled it a little differently, a little better, but emotionally I got a lot of things going on.”

After hanging up the phone, Miller sits there for several minutes, seemingly baffled. He uses a bandanna to wipe his eyes.

Miller told NBC News that he could not understand the sense of entitlement that led the men to believe their actions were all right. He said he is taking comfort in the words of support he has received from people who have viewed the video on social media.

“People of all races, shades of life, have either commented on the video, shared the video or messaged me on Facebook and said, ‘I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, but I want to applaud you for how you responded,’” Miller told the network. “It makes me feel good knowing that being humble and showing restraint touched many other people.”

LaShawn Miller also thanked people on social media for their words of encouragement.

“What my husband went through Monday was some scary, unnecessary, blatant racism, but the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming,” she wrote.

A black delivery driver recorded the confrontation Monday, May 11, 2020, after a white resident of an Oklahoma City gated community blocked him from leaving following a delivery and demanded to know what he and his co-worker were was doing there.
A black delivery driver recorded the confrontation Monday, May 11, 2020, after a white resident of an Oklahoma City gated community blocked him from leaving following a delivery and demanded to know what he and his co-worker were was doing there. (GoodLifeStudio via Getty Images)