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Mayor calls for investigation after arrest of 13-year-old recorded, posted on social media

Updated: October 04, 2019 07:02 AM

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is calling for an investigation after a video of officers arresting a 13-year-old was posted to social media.

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The video was later removed from social media Wednesday evening.

"This video is deeply disturbing to watch. I have asked Chief Axtell to launch a formal Internal Affairs investigation into the circumstances surrounding this arrest as soon as possible," Carter said in a statement.

A spokesperson for St. Paul Police said an officer saw the 13-year-old girl in the parking lot of the BP gas station on University Avenue at about 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26. Police said officers recognized the girl from several other problems in the past, and knew she had a trespassing order in effect for the property. According to police, the girl was also previously arrested for assault, disorderly conduct, theft from person, auto theft, fleeing police on foot, obstruction the legal process and trespassing.

As the officer approached her, she ran onto the light rail platform. Police said the officer chose to not chase her over concerns she could run onto the tracks and be struck by a train.

The officer went to the girl's home, but she wasn't there. As he was heading back to the Western District to write a report, he heard a squad being dispatched to the area on a report of four juveniles walking in the parking lots of TJ Maxx and LA Fitness trying to open vehicle doors, so he circled back and saw them enter the UPS store on University Avenue.

According to police, the officer and other officers that arrived went into the UPS store, where the owner previously reported juveniles coming into the store and disrupting business.

Officers saw the 13-year-old on the floor behind one of the counters, police said. When the officer told her she was under arrest and ordered her to lie on her stomach, the girl screamed "no," spun around and tried to kick the officer, according to police.

The department said the officer attempted to gain control of her in an effort to prevent the situation from escalating, but the girl scratched at the officer and punched him in the head. Police said she also attempted to kick the officer in the groin, and her brother grabbed the officer to try to intervene.

The other officers were able to eventually restrain the girl and take her into custody, police said. Her brother was also arrested for interfering with the arrest and fighting with officers.

"When I first saw that video I was just shocked, I was overwhelmed, I wanted to cry..." said Nekima Levy-Armstrong, community activist and civil-rights attorney who shared the video on social media. "I thought it was unacceptable treatment of a child of officers who are supposed to protect and serve." 

Levy-Armstrong tagged Carter in the post, of the video that was shot by a store employee where the arrest happened near University Avenue West and Hamline in St. Paul.

"I don't think there's anyone of us who wants to see a video of a young girl, in physical interaction with a St. Paul police officer. We don't know enough to say much beyond that, yet that it's disturbing to see an image we don't want to see in our community," said Carter. "We owe it to ourselves to be transparent, and to be thorough, we owe it to ourselves that we check."

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to the union that represents the officers that are in the internal affairs investigation but they declined to comment at this time. 

Carter held a press conference regarding the video on Thursday, at which he said he doesn't believe anybody should rush to judgment about the officers or the girl involved. He said that's why he called for an investigation.

You can watch the full press conference below.

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