A Somali teen said that he was standing in a Richfield, Minn., park Saturday night when an officer approached him and began yelling at him to leave. The young man says that when the teen told the officer that the park was public property, things took a turn that included the officer pushing him and smacking him upside the head. Video taken from the incident and posted on Twitter appears to confirm the teen’s account.
“He’s a cop,” Kamal Gelle, 19, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He had two dogs in the car barking. He had a gun. With everything that’s been going on with police … I got scared. I thought I was going to be a victim.”
According to the newspaper, members of the Somali Human Rights Commission, led by Omar Jamal, met with Richfield’s police chief Tuesday to find out if the incident was racially motivated.
Gelle told the Star Tribune that the officer in the video had pulled him over earlier that day. He didn’t have his license on him and had trouble finding his proof of insurance. He says the officer gave him a ticket for careless driving and then reportedly told the teen, “I don’t want to see you back in this city again.”
In the video, an officer is seen yelling at the teen. Gelle can be seen talking to the officer, although it is difficult to make out what either of the men is saying, and it appears that the officer pushes the teen in the back. The officer then appears to follow the teen, and when another conversation occurs, it looks as if the officer strikes the teen in the back of the head.
“When someone with a uniform and a badge hits someone unnecessarily, it’s horrible. It’s an ultimate exercise of force by authorities,” Jamal said. “We are calling for this behavior to stop.”
Jamal told KARE-11 that the meeting with the police chief was productive and that he expressed concern about what he saw on the video and assured all of those in attendance that the incident was under investigation.