October 31, 2016 01:46 PM
A pedestrian who was grabbed by an officer while he was walking in the southbound lane of Xerxes Avenue in Edina earlier this month is now suing the city of Edina and the officer.
The lawsuit says Larnie Thomas, who is black, was walking in the street Wednesday, Oct. 12, to avoid construction work on the sidewalk.
Officer Tim Olson initially pulled up behind Thomas with his police lights on to try to get him out of the road, but Thomas was wearing headphones and continued to walk in the street, so Olson got out and grabbed him.
A bystander uploaded a 7-minute video to YouTube that showed the confrontation.
In the lawsuit, Thomas says the confrontation was discrimination and violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The lawsuit says Olson’s treatment of Thomas “was so at variance with what would reasonably be anticipated, absent racial discrimination, that racial discrimination is the probable explanation.”
Thomas was cited with disorderly conduct and failure to obey a traffic signal, but the citation was later dismissed. The incident sparked a protest outside Edina City Hall, called the “I Am A Man” March for Justice.
Thomas is demanding a jury trial and is asking for more than $50,000 in compensation.
The Edina Police Department posted this statement on its Facebook page after the incident was reported:
A video of one of our police officers is circulating online. This incident started several minutes prior to the recording. During that time, our police officer observed a man walking southbound on Xerxes Avenue at West 60th Street in the southbound 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. Recognizing 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 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 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.
Updated: October 31, 2016 01:46 PM
Created: October 31, 2016 01:31 PM
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