A Minnesota mayor is calling for an internal affairs investigation after a “deeply disturbing” video capturing the arrest of a Black teen went viral.
According to TwinCities.com, Wednesday, St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter spoke out about the incident which took place at a local UPS store where an officer initially tried to stop a 13-year-old girl, but ultimately ended up dragging her to the ground.
“This video is deeply disturbing to watch,” said Carter via a press release, assuring the public that he personally requested Police Chief Todd Axtell launch an investigation “into the circumstances surrounding this arrest as soon as possible.”
St. Paul Police spokesman, Steve Linders, admitted that it is generally difficult to watch an arrest of a person “who’s physically resisting,” but cautioned people not to assume that meant excessive force had been used. He said the girl had been banned from the location until August 2020 because of previous problematic incidents that she had been involved in.
“It’s unfortunate that she ran from the officer, resisted arrest and that she continues to go back to the BP gas station where there have been … robberies and a murder,” Linders said Wednesday. “We are hopeful that this problem can be rectified through the criminal justice system.”
But Helen Dillman, who was in the store and witnessed the arrest first hand said she was taken aback that officers chose “to react so aggressively that immediately” and clarifies her alarm is why she began recording on her phone. She asserts that she saw the officer escalating the situation unnecessarily.
“She was saying the police are trying to get me” and she hid behind a small table, Dillman said, adding that when the officer entered the store, he looked down, saw the girl and said, “Oh, there you are.”
Although the girl was sitting peacefully, she says, the officer shoved her to the ground while holding pepper spray. But the officer wrote in a police report that when he told the teen she was under arrest she started screaming, spun around and tried to kick him.
“In response to her unprovoked aggression and in an effort to prevent the situation from escalating, the officer attempted to gain control of her and she continued to fight with him,” Linders maintains.
But Dillman disagrees with that account and Friday posted the video on Facebook.
“This is absolutely disgusting treatment of an 11 year old Black girl at the hands of two white male St. Paul police officers,” opined local civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong who also shared the clip. “Why was all of this manhandling of a young girl necessary? This child is not property. I am appalled.”
Although Dillman said the girl told her she was 11 when she came in the store, police reports indicate she is 13. Linders says the teen previously was arrested on suspicion of assault, disorderly conduct, theft from person, auto theft, fleeing police on foot and obstructing the legal process.