The Minneapolis NAACP branch on Monday called for changes to law enforcement practices after video footage surfaced that showed a Metro Transit officer slamming a young man to the ground during a recent arrest for not paying the fare.
In the video, an officer appears to be handcuffing a man who has his hands behind his back. When the suspect makes a slight movement, the officer is seen throwing the handcuffed man to the ground, where they both land. Other officers immediately surround the two men.
The man in the video, Draon Armstrong, 21, of Minneapolis, is black. NAACP officials called the officer’s actions “excessive force,” which they said raises wider concerns about the treatment of black people by law enforcement in Minneapolis.
“The video footage of Draon Armstrong being slammed to the ground by the Metro Transit officer further supports our claims that Minneapolis is one incident away from becoming Ferguson,” Jason Sole, chairman of the NAACP’s criminal justice form committee, said in a statement.
Sole referred to rioting that took place after a fatal police shooting last summer of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo.
According to Metro Transit, the incident took place about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Target Field light-rail station on the Green Line. Armstrong was charged with fare evasion and obstructing a legal process, each a misdemeanor. Armstrong has since hired an attorney, Sole said. He could not be reached for comment.
Metro Transit declined to identify the officer, citing privacy concerns.
Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington told Fox 9 last week that the actions taken by the officer appeared to comply with department procedure.The station reported that Armstrong’s sister recorded the incident on a cellphone. She could not be reached on Monday.
While the arrest is under review, a preliminary assessment did not find any violations of department policy,Monday.
“The arrest in question was made after the suspect indicated they had no intention of addressing their alleged fare evasion and repeated refusals to follow the arresting officer’s lawful orders,” Drew Kerr said in a statement. “When a suspect resists arrest, officers are trained to maintain safety by bringing a suspect to the ground.”
The NAACP said there are “more humane ways” to address those who don’t pay fares, which has become a growing problem for Metro Transit as light rail has expanded. The organization called on the Metropolitan Council to conduct an independent investigation, address concerns about racial profiling and revise Metro Transit policing procedures.
“It is imperative that we are treated with dignity, equality and respect by Metro Transit police irrespective of race or socioeconomic status,” Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds said in a statement.
Metro Transit officials have become more concerned in recent months about fare dodging.
Marcus E. Howard • 612-673-1720