A video of a black Minnesota man being handcuffed for walking in a street near a sidewalk that was closed for construction is sparking social media outrage, CBS News reports.
The video was filmed by a bystander and posted to YouTube. It shows a plainclothes Edina, Minn., police officer holding the man, identified as Larnie Thomas, by the collar of his jacket. The incident took place Wednesday.
In the video, Thomas can be seen walking near the white line of the street shoulder before he is stopped by the officer. The bystander can be heard telling the officer that there was no other place for Thomas to walk, and that instead of detaining Thomas, the officer could have shown him where to go.
Instead, Thomas becomes agitated as the officer keeps his grip on him, insisting that the officer remove his hands.
“What the [expletive] you want to talk to me for?” Thomas yells. “I’m walking on the damn sidewalk. You can’t just put your hands on me!”
Thomas takes off his coat, shirt and backpack to try to get the officer to stop touching him.
“People die in these situations,” the woman recording the video can be heard saying to the officer. “It’s scary.”
Editor’s note: Video contains language that some may find offensive:
Shortly after, another officer arrives, saying, “My partner told me you’re under arrest.”
The woman recording and another individual who is not on camera can be heard protesting, saying that the first officer never said that Thomas was going to be arrested.
Thomas is handcuffed.
“You could have just shown him where to walk really kindly,” the woman behind the camera says. “You are the one that incited this.”
According to the report, former Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds said on Facebook that she was “fuming” after seeing the footage.
Minneapolis-St.Paul rapper Toki Wright posted about the video on social media Friday, musing, “Here’s what happened in Edina, Minnesota yesterday when a Black man decided to walk around construction that was blocking the sidewalk. This is also a perfect example of how people get murdered. #MinnesotaNice.”
However, Edina police released a statement saying that the incident started several minutes before the recording started.
“I observed Thomas’ actions were obstructing southbound vehicular traffic as vehicles slowed to a walking pace while stacking up behind Thomas,” the officer wrote in an incident report.
Authorities say that the officer saw Thomas’ actions as a public-safety risk, and so he pulled up in an attempt to advise him to get out of the road. Police said that Thomas turned and looked at the officer before continuing to walk.
Thomas, officers say, “did not stop and was defiant.” The officer accuses Thomas of refusing to follow his orders, saying that Thomas became “extremely confrontational.”
The officer reported that he smelled alcohol on Thomas’ breath and that a Breathalyzer test confirmed that he had been drinking.
The police statement on the incident also indicated that although citizens have the right to film police encounters, “it is more difficult for officers to deal with the situation on hand when they are at the same time dealing with the distractions of bystanders.”
According to CBS News, the city’s mayor, Jim Hovland, posted a statement about the incident as well, saying that Thomas was not taken to jail but was instead taken to a local shopping mall at his request and released. There was a citation issued to Thomas for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct, however, Hovland said, the citation will be dismissed.
“People across the country are expressing concern about how [Thomas] was treated by the Edina police,” Hovland said in the statement.
Hovland said that the officer was “following established protocol,” but the mayor said the city will be looking into the procedure to “determine how to better approach this type of incident with greater sensitivity in the future.”
“We will work with the Edina community and invite other organizations to participate in this very important conversation,” Hovland wrote in his statement. “There are lessons we should and will learn from this experience.”
Read more at CBS News.