A citation issued to a black man who was stopped and grabbed by an Edina police lieutenant for walking in the street will be dismissed, but city officials said Monday that they believe "the officers followed established protocol."
The incident last week in the 5900 block of Xerxes Avenue S. involving Larnie Thomas, 34, of Minneapolis, and a white plainclothes police officer was captured in a seven-minute video by a bystander, posted online and drew heated response as it went viral.
Mayor Jim Hovland, in announcing on Sunday his decision to have the case dropped, acknowledged that "people across the country are expressing concern about how [Thomas] was treated by the Edina police" late Wednesday morning.
The city of Edina posted its response late Monday afternoon to requests from the NAACP Minneapolis regarding the incident. The responses came from Hovland, city manager Scott Neal and Police Chief Dave Nelson.
Among the requests from the NAACP were that an independent investigation be done regarding the incident and whether any department protocols or state laws were violated, including whether Thomas' civil rights and civil liberties were violated. The group asked that Lt. Tim Olson be suspended without pay pending the outcome of an investigation.
It also asked that the Edina police begin collecting race and other demographic data during traffic stops and begin using that data in reforming its policies and procedures; that the mayor and police chief formally apologize to Thomas and "to the public at large," and that all Edina police officers be retrained on implicit and explicit bias.
The news release said the city would ask the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate last Wednesday's incident.
It said, however, that Olson "will remain on the job. He and all the officers involved followed … established procedures and the incident ended safely."
The city said it invites the NAACP to talk with staff about how to collect race data and how it will be used. The city stopped short of offering an apology to Thomas.
"There are lessons we should learn from this experience, and we will invite the community to participate in this discussion," the news release said.
The city also said it "will provide additional training … on implicit and explicit bias. We would value suggestions for specific training from the Minneapolis NAACP."
Hovland met Sunday with Neal and Nelson. With the support of Olson, they decided it would be best to set aside the citation, a city spokeswoman said by e-mail.
On Monday, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations joined the Minneapolis NAACP in calling for an independent investigation of the incident, which CAIR Executive Director Jaylani Hussein characterized as "walking while black."
Messages were left with Thomas on Monday seeking his reaction to the Edina mayor's decision.
Thomas was not taken to jail, Hovland's statement noted, but was driven to a nearby shopping mall at his request and released.
Late last week, Edina police maintained that Thomas was defiant and didn't stop when asked to do so by Olson, who remained calm throughout the entire encounter. Police also noted that Thomas being in the street was a threat to his safety. In the video, the situation escalated quickly as Thomas became agitated and swore numerous times at Olson, questioning why he was being detained.
The YouTube video, which went live that same day, was viewed and shared tens of thousands of times. Hundreds of comments were added to the posting from people writing that they were outraged over a black man being arrested after walking in the street because construction had closed the nearby sidewalk.
Staff writer Pat Pheifer contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482