In a cell phone video posted to YouTube, an Edina, Minnesota, officer was recorded arresting a man for allegedly walking in the street.
Now, the woman filming – later identified as Janet Rowles – is speaking out on the man’s behalf along with the NAACP.
The video shows a black man, identified as Larnie Thomas, being arrested by Officer Tim Olson, who appears to forcefully pull the man down the road.
“You’re walking down the middle of the street,” the officer says, to which the man responds, “I’m on the damn white line! You can’t just put your hands on me like that!”
Rowles called the officer’s actions “overzealous.”
“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. 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,” she said in a statement issued with the NAACP, which has asked for an outside investigation.
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“Tim Olson, mistreated and accosted a black pedestrian, Mr. Larnie Thomas, as shown in a video recorded by Janet Rowles that has been viewed more than 100,000 times since then. The dehumanizing and degrading way in which Mr. Thomas was treated by Edina police merely reinforces the urgent need for police reform in the State of Minnesota and across this nation,” the NAACP’s statement said.
Edina police say there’s a gap between when the incident began and when Rowles started recording, adding that the officer asked Thomas to get out of the road several times:
“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, however, added, “His saying twice (on the video) that the pedestrian was walking down the middle of the street is an absolute falsehood. Also, I am disappointed to see that the officer who wrote down about ten words that I told him, managed to quote me as saying many, many things on the police report – some of which are completely untrue.”
The NAACP issued demands calling for an apology and the officer’s suspension.