Black man arrested for walking down road while pavement closed for construction

'He’s scared, people end up dying in these situations, it’s scary'

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The Independent US

A black man was arrested and dragged down a residential street by his arm for allegedly walking in the line of traffic while the pavement was closed for reconstruction.

Larnie Thomas was filmed being detained by an off-duty police officer, believed to be Tim Olson, in the city of Edina in Minnesota, who held him for “walking down the middle of the street” while avoiding the construction work.

Mr Thomas was shown becoming angry after Mr Olson refused to let go of his jacket as he escorted him to a nearby police car, and was placed in handcuffs after swearing repeatedly and hitting his rucksack on the bonnet of the vehicle.

Janet Rowles, who filmed the footage, was heard suggesting Mr Olson merely tell him politely where to walk, rather that detaining him and requesting back-up.

“He’s scared, people end up dying in these situations, it’s scary,” she shouted at the officers as Mr Thomas continued to get more agitated.

Police reportedly say Mr Thomas had alcohol in his system at the time of the incident, and was held by officers for 45 minutes before being released.

Ms Rowles’ video quickly went viral on YouTube, and the City of Edina, MN responded to the incident on its Facebook page, saying “public safety is the priority” of the police force.

“Recognising the risk to the safety of the public, the officer pulled in behind the man with his lights and an audible signal in an attempt to advise him to get out of the roadway,” the statement said.

“The man, who was wearing headphones, turned and looked at the officer and continued walking in the lane of traffic.

“The officer then drove in front of the man by approximately 15 feet, to block him from continuing in the southbound lane of traffic. The man deliberately went around the squad car and continued to walk in the lane of traffic. The man did not stop and was defiant.

“It makes it more difficult for officers to deal with the situation on hand when they are at the same time dealing with the distractions of bystanders,” the spokesperson concluded, referring to Ms Rowles’ filming.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), condemned Mr Olson’s actions and expressed sympathy for Mr Thomas.

“The dehumanising and degrading way in which Mr Thomas was treated by Edina police merely reinforces the urgent need for police reform,” the president of the Minneapolis NAACP said in a statement.

“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.

“When will we say ‘enough is enough?’”

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