A plain-clothes white police officer in Edina, Minnesota, illustrated exactly what’s wrong with the U.S. justice system when he forcibly grabbed a black pedestrian and handcuffed him for walking in the street where the sidewalk was under construction.
The cell phone footage of the incident, captured by a passerby identified as Janet Rowles, shows Officer Tim Olson dragging Larnie Thomas down the road, accusing the man of walking down a part of the street he should not have been walking on.
Thomas insists he did nothing and becomes agitated as the cop refuses to take his hands off him.
“I’m on the damn white line,” he shouts. “You can’t just put your hands on me like that!”
He then asks Olson if he’s s going to jail, to which the cop replies he isn’t.
“You could’ve just shown him where to walk very kindly. You’re the one who incited this,” Rowles, who was off-camera, tells the officer as she continued to film. “He’s scared. People die in these situations. It’s scary.”
She then adds in a lower voice, “It’s because he’s black.”
The incident took place about 18 miles away from Falcon Heights, where a St. Anthony police officer fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in July.
The video of the confrontation has since gone viral, prompting harsh criticism for people across the country.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the Edina Police Department claimed there was more to the situation than is shown on the video:
The authorities claimed that Thomas ignored the officer’s order to move out of the road, therefore, Olson drove ahead and stopped his car to “block him from continuing in the southbound land of traffic.”
“The man continued to defy the officer’s directives and was belligerent,” the statement read.
Thomas, who tested positive for alcohol, was cited for disorderly conduct and failure to obey a traffic signal.
He was released 45 minutes later, according to the city officials.
However, Rowles, who witnessed the entire episode, had something else to say.
“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,” Rowles said in the statement released by the NAACP. “I have no interest in vilifying the police, but obviously I got out of my car in the first place because I perceive the pedestrian might not get treated fairly because of his ethnicity.”
The African-American civil rights organization called the cop’s behavior “dehumanizing and degrading.”
“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,” said civil rights attorney and president of the Minneapolis NAACP, Nekima Levy-Pounds. “It is sad to say, but that man in the video could easily have been the next Philando Castile or Jamar Clark, two unarmed black men who were killed by police within the last year.”
The NAACP has also asked for an independent investigation and urged the officials to suspend Officer Tim Olson without pay along with a “formal apology by the mayor and police chief of Edina to Mr. Thomas and the public at-large.”
Find out more in the video above.