Shocking video showing a black man in Edina, Minnesota, being arrested by a white officer for allegedly walking in a suburban road because the sidewalk was under construction has sparked outrage and calls for the officer to be suspended.
The clip, which shows Larnie Thomas being arrested for walking in the street to get around the construction, has left many viewers horrified.
Thomas was walking down Xerxes Avenue, which is in a residential area with homes on either side of the street and has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour.
The footage, shot by Janet Rowles, begins with officer Tim Olson’s hand tightly gripping the back of Thomas’s jacket as the man shouts he’s done nothing wrong.
Thomas appeared to have already passed the construction and was behind the white line that divides pedestrians and traffic when the video starts rolling.
Olson tells Thomas to ‘come over here’ as he grips the man’s jacket to prevent him from running away, moving him momentarily back into the road before reaching the front of the unmarked squad car.
‘You’re walking down the middle of the street,’ Olson says.
Thomas becomes irate, shouting: ‘I’m on the damn white line! You can’t just put your hands on me like that!’
Thomas begins frantically shouting at Olson that he’s done nothing wrong, while Rowles films.
Thomas slams his backpack on the squad car, still confused by why he’s being detained, and asks: ‘You’re gonna take me to jail for this s***?’
Olson says he’s not going to take him to jail. Thomas then tells him if he’s not taking him to jail, he should take his hand off of him.
Rowles then suggests to the officer that if Thomas can’t walk around the construction, that he shows the man a different route to take.
The officer asks the woman to back away and then asks Thomas to put his hands on the squad car.
Olson doesn’t release Thomas as he tries to flail out of the officer’s grip, cursing at the officer and asking if he can leave.
Olson tells Thomas he cannot leave and they’re ‘going to have a talk about a whole bunch of things’.
As the camera turns, it’s clear the road is in a residential area with homes lining the side.
Thomas then asks the officer if he ‘settles down will you take your hands off me?’
Olson tells him to settle down but doesn’t agree to take his hands off of him.
They argue as Thomas tries to get out of his jacket to get the cop’s hands off him.
Thomas continues to insist he hasn’t done anything wrong and eventually squeezes out of his shirt and throws his bag and clothing on the floor.
Rowles tries to tell the officer that Thomas did nothing wrong and later that he’s scared as she attempts to de-escalate the situation.
Eventually, a second officer arrives and immediately cuffs Thomas.
The seven-minute video, which has been viewed more than 170,000 times, ends with Rowles agreeing to give an officer a statement as Thomas is put into the back of a squad car.
It’s unclear if Thomas was booked, but he was cited for disorderly conduct and failure to obey a traffic signal.
He was also given a Breathalyzer test, which detected alcohol in his system.
Thomas was detained for 45 minutes before being released, according to the Huffington Post.
Many people who have seen the video have expressed disgust at officer Olson’s handling of the situation.
‘The way that man was treated was completely uncalled for and unacceptable. The officer had a hold on the back of the young man’s shirt as if he were some sort of animal. No person of any color deserves to be treated with such contempt,’ one person wrote.
Another wrote: ‘This was terrible. That’s all I could say even thought I have more.’
On YouTube, one commenter wrote: ‘
America, Land of the Free: Where walking the wrong way or talking the wrong way can get you arrested.’
Rowles released her own statement about the altercation saying: ‘There was absolutely no reason for the officer to stop him from walking. I easily passed him in my vehicle because he was hugging the right side next to the construction, literally walking on the white line that marks the shoulder.’
After the video went viral, the city of Edina released a statement about the incident.
The statement said that after Olson tried to get Thomas’s attention as he walked southbound, he pulled his squad car in front of him.
Thomas was wearing headphones and didn’t hear Olson’s initial attempts to get his attention.
The statement continued: ‘The officer then drove in front of the man by approximately 15 feet, to block him from continuing in the southbound lane of traffic. The man deliberately went around the squad car and continued to walk in the lane of traffic.
‘The officer got out of his vehicle and started to follow the man, asking him to get out of the lane of traffic and stop. The man did not stop and was defiant.
‘It was after that point that the recording began. The officer smelled alcohol on the man’s breath during the incident. A breathalyzer later confirmed the presence of alcohol.’
Rowles said the police narrative of the incident prior to her recording is much more drawn out than her memory.
She added that regardless of the narrative, Thomas should not have been stopped.
The Minnesota NAACP also released a statement on Saturday regarding the incident.
‘Watching that video and seeing a black man being manhandled and emasculated by Edina Police was not only painful and humiliating, it was a vivid reminder that blacks are still too-often seen as second class citizens in the State of Minnesota and in this nation,’ it said.
It also asks the the police apologize to Thomas and that Olson be suspended without pay.