A mother in Rocky Mount, Virginia, was worried sick last week when her 20-year-old old son’s car got a flat tire, leaving him stranded “in the middle of nowhere” late at night.
Nada Owusu of Danville told The Huffington Post she wanted to share her appreciation for Virginia State Trooper Matt Okes, who helped her son Joseph after the 20-year-old Virginia Tech student’s tire blew out late Thursday night.
Joseph Owusu, a Virginia Tech student, pulled over and a police officer soon approached. There was no confrontation or allegations of police brutality — instead Virginia State Trooper Matt Okes became the family’s “hero.”
“This kind officer approached him, didn’t ask if the little Mercedes was stolen, but rather got on his knees to replace his tire,” Nada Owusu, the student’s mother, recalled.
The mom showed her gratitude on Facebook:
When Trooper Okes failed to successfully change the flat tire, he apparently stayed with Joseph until 1 a.m. until AAA and his parents could arrive. Nada said that Okes used his car’s powerful lights to alert other drivers of her son’s vehicle. The experience left a lasting impact on the thankful mother.
“There’s a lot of good in this world and people want to hear positive stories. As far as I was concerned, there was a good person waiting with my son. I didn’t care if he was green, blue, yellow. There’s a lot of good in America and that needs to be heard. Police need our support,” Nada said, according to WTVR-TV.
Once AAA got the car unstuck, Okes drove behind it for a while to make sure everything was ok.
Owusu said she hopes for a day when a story about a white officer helping a black man won’t get any attention.
“It will be the norm,” she said. “It will be something we expect.”
Owusu’s post has been shared more than 21,000 times and liked by more than 400 people, including TV personality Montel Williams, who called Okes’ assistance an “act of heroic kindness.”
“Too often we look at very specific instances where police miss the mark, and it’s equally if not more important to recognize the countless Trooper Okes’ of the world who quietly serve with distinction and embody EVERYTHING we want our Police to be,” Williams wrote. “Trooper Okes, thank you for your service.”
Owusu said the message has even reached those in Ferguson, Missouri, the site of recent turmoil between police and protesters, where white police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen in August.
“Somebody in Ferguson told me it was uplifting and that they’re beginning to heal,” Owusu, a pediatrician, said. “That really touched me. This was a simple, worried mother’s post trying to thank one officer. This was accidental, but it’s bringing healing.”
“I believe that people want to hope again — that they can still believe in our officers,” she added. “The officers need the community to believe they are there for our own good.”
The “overwhelming” amount of attention also caught the trooper off guard, he said.
“I certainly wasn’t expecting the photo to receive as much attention as it has,” Okes said in a statement. “I was simply doing my job as any other Virginia state trooper would.”
The kind act has changed Joseph’s perception of police officers.
“When my son saw that officer, he didn’t think the officer would help him. And that’s sad,” Nada Owusu said. “Now he knows.”