The Root has obtained exclusive footage and spoke to an eyewitness who filmed a now-viral video that seems to contradict many of the cops’ initial claims after Minnesota Park Police pulled their guns and detained children in a Minneapolis area park.
After Brianna Lindell’s Facebook video of the Tuesday incident went viral, Minneapolis Park Board President Brad Bourn, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Mary Merrill and Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto convened a press conference to address the controversy and clarify what occurred at the event.
Lindell’s widely-circulated video shows cops detaining two children after responding to a 911 call alerting them that there were black children roaming around the park armed with a knife and a gun. At the conference, Ohotto said that the responding officer “drew his weapon,” but did not point it in the direction of the children according to multiple sources, including the CBS station and Lindell, who attended the meeting to “hold the police accountable.”
But Lindell shared a copy of a separate video with The Root, simultaneously filmed at the scene by her partner, that seems to document witnesses who said the cops definitely drew their weapons on the boys. In an exclusive interview with The Root, Lindell maintains that she was told by several witnesses at the scene that cops pointed and held their weapons on the children.
According to Lindell, she and her partner were at Minnehaha falls in the Minneapolis area when she came across four black children, ages 13, 13, 14 and 16, arguing with a white kid who appeared to be 17 and his girlfriend.
“The white boy grabbed a trash can lid and was yelling racial slurs at the black kids,” said Lindell. “The white girl, who appeared to be about 15, was on the phone.”
Although the person who called the police reportedly told operators that the boys had knives and a backpack with a gun, Lindell told The Root: “The only mention of weapons was from the white boy, who said he had a knife.”
Lindell said other people in the park de-escalated the situation so she figured it was over and continued her hike. But she returned to the scene a few minutes later to find police had detained the boys. And although most media outlets have reported on that two children were involved, four boys were actually detained, who were all black and were reportedly all from Minneapolis’ large Somali community.
Two boys were already detained in the back seat of the car while two others were left on the ground squirming, while police did...
Actually, that part is not clear. Perhaps they were waiting for Columbo or Sherlock Holmes to come solve the crime, as the cops on the scene seemed perplexed and unequipped to outsmart the dangerous unarmed teenagers and the conniving Caucasian bandit who absconded from the scene only leaving a cell phone number and several witnesses.
“The police said they searched for the white kid, but I only saw them searching for weapons,” said Lindell. She says police searched the boys numerous times, including looking in the grass and nearby areas, but found no weapons. Witnesses say that during the initial search the teens were held at gunpoint by the cops.
The video also shows several witnesses were ready to come forward to describe the missing white kid and the incident that happened, but police were not interested.
At the end of the video, the cop on the scene would only take Lindell’s statement before he rushed to his car and left. Apparently, the officer was not only a licensed law enforcement agent, but he appeared to also be a MENSA member because he took Lindell’s entire statement without using a pen or pad.
Before he closed his police cruiser’s door, the enraged onlookers asked for the disinterested cop’s badge number, which he blurted out quickly and refused to repeat. Then he left like he forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer.
Thankfully, the police didn’t arrest the boys, But, according to Lindell, who said she spoke to one of the boy’s coaches, the cops just dropped three of the boys off without explaining what happened or even talking to the parents of the children.
Despite assuring the community at the meeting that they are safe in Minneapolis’ parks and that officers would never ever point a gun at an unarmed child, the Minneapolis Park Police eventually issued a statement admitting that an officer actually did point a gun in the “general direction” of the boys.
The statement adds:
One of the four detained teens was determined to be a runaway. He was transported to the Juvenile Supervision Center, and has been released. The other three teens were released last night at the park. There were no physical injuries to the four detained teens.
Officers were wearing body-worn cameras and the cameras were activated during the encounter. This morning, Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto and Superintendent Mary Merrill viewed the body-worn camera footage. Chief Ohotto and Superintendent Merrill are requesting an independent investigation of the incident to determine that park police policies, procedures and laws were followed.
Park Police will continue to investigate the origins and validity of the initial 911 call. Falsely reporting a crime in Minnesota is a misdemeanor level criminal offense, per statute 609.505.
I’m sure they will use every tool available to track down the white kid who made this call and assure that the boys who had guns waved in their faces will receive the resources they need.
And while I would never ever disparage the fine men and women of the law enforcement community, if you asked me to point to someone who might possibly be a group of racist, inept assholes...
I might point my finger in the “general direction” of the Minnesota Park Police.