By Angela Wyatt Braden
Thousands are expressing their outrage on social media in response to a YouTube video showing a Black man being arrested for walking in the street in Edina, MN.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Walking in the street is actually illegal in some places.”
Well, you’re right. Jaywalking is indeed a crime in many cities and towns. But Larnie Thomas only stepped in the street because the sidewalk that was within his path was closed and under construction.
So, because of the restricted sidewalk, Thomas either had to walk in the street, take a huge leap over the closed sidewalk, or turn around and go in the opposite direction. At least, that’s how Thomas surveyed the situation.
When Thomas started strolling in the street to his destination, a plain clothes officer grabbed him and began hassling him about being in the street. Thomas tried to explain to the officer that the sidewalk was closed and he was left with no alternative. The officer didn’t want to accept Thomas’ defense. So, after a heated debate between Thomas and the officer, the officer and another back-up officer decided to slapped some handcuffs on Thomas’ wrist.
A bystander caught most of the incident on their cell phone camera. Thomas can be seen and heard arguing with the officer about where he was to talk.
Many individuals that have watched the video feel that the police confrontation was uncalled for and can be easily perceived as harassment. But the Edina Police department is taking the position that the officer was not in the wrong, being that he was simply responding to the situation because Thomas was creating a safety hazard for himself and others.
In a statement released on social media, Edina Police say the incident started several minutes prior to the recording, when an officer saw Thomas walking in a lane of traffic “though there is a sidewalk on the east side and a sidewalk under construction and a paved shoulder on the west side of the street.”
In the incident report written by the responding officer, he wrote, “I observed Thomas’ actions were obstructing southbound vehicular traffic as vehicles slowed to a walking pace while stacking up behind Thomas.”
The officer told his commanding officer that he recognized a public safety risk. So, he decided to pull his car behind Thomas with his lights and signal on in an attempt to advise him to get out of the roadway. The officer said that Thomas turned and looked at the officer and continued walking in the traffic lane, completely ignoring the officer’s instructions to get out of the street.
In the incident report, the officer also reported that Thomas was combative and also smelled of alcohol. In fact, Thomas failed a breathalyzer test given by the Edina P.D.
Who do you think was in the wrong? Take a look at the Youtube clip and chime in!