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Viral video illustrates what’s wrong with policing in America

Bystander recorded a plain clothes officer escalating an interaction with an unarmed black man in suburban Minneapolis.

CREDIT: Screengrabs
CREDIT: Screengrabs

Last Wednesday, a black man was walking down a street in suburban Edina, Minnesota, when a plain clothes officer grabbed him and refused to let go.

The officer’s conduct drew the attention of a bystander, who took out her phone and started filming.

As the officer forcibly pulls the man toward his police car, he yells, “For what?… You can’t just put your hands on me like this!”

The officer accuses the man of walking down a part of the street he shouldn’t have been walking on. The man insists he did nothing wrong. The man becomes agitated by the officer not letting go of him, repeatedly swears at the cop, and is arrested.

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“You could’ve just shown him where to walk very kindly,” the bystander tells the officer as she continues to film. “You’re the one who incited this.”

“He’s scared,” she adds. “People die in these situations. It’s scary.”

On YouTube, the woman provided more context:

I witnessed and videoed this earlier today. I passed by a man who was walking on the white line of the shoulder of the street. There was construction and it was obvious that the sidewalk was not available right there so he was hugging the right side as far as he could go. I went around him and noticed in my rearview mirror that an unmarked SUV turned on police lights. The officer pulled in front of the pedestrian to cut him off and proceeded to accuse him of walking in the middle of the street.

Her footage has since gone viral:

In response to people criticizing the officer for escalating the situation, the Edina Police Department posted a statement on Facebook basically saying there was more to the situation than is shown on the video:

Unknown iFrame situation

But in a subsequent interview with the Star Tribune, the woman who filmed the altercation — Janet Rowles, who happens to work as a mediator — continues to insist the officer could’ve handled the situation better.

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“I don’t fault him for being agitated,” Rowles said. “I’m a mediator, and I see people all the time be upset in ways that aren’t very pretty. We’re human. It’s the job of the police to deal with it in a good manner, not the [one] who is being falsely accused.”

The Star Tribune identifies the man arrested in the video as 34-year-old Larnie B. Thomas of Minneapolis. He was reportedly released from custody after being cited for disorderly conduct and pedestrian failure to obey a traffic signal.

Edina — an 88-percent white, affluent first-ring suburb of Minneapolis — is about 18 miles away from Falcon Heights, the suburb where Philando Castile was shot to death by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop in July.

Late last month, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension turned over the results of its investigation of Castile’s death to the Ramsey County attorney’s office. The county attorney hasn’t yet made a decision as to whether officer Jeronimo Yanez will face criminal charges in connection with the fatal shooting.