EDINA, MINNESOTA — Larnie Thomas was walking through a suburban neighborhood in Edina, Minnesota when he was stopped by a plainclothes cop for what appears to be a case of walking while black.
Thomas was walking on the side of the street to avoid construction taking place on the sidewalk. As he was walking, a police squad car pulled up beside him. The police statement alleges Officer Tim Olson tried to get Thomas’ attention, but couldn’t because he was wearing headphones.
The officer then drove further ahead and blocked the street with his car so Thomas would have to stop, but Thomas just walked around it. Officer Olson claims he followed Thomas on foot to tell him to get out of the lane of traffic, and when he didn’t listen, he was grabbed by the jacket.
Video taken of the interaction that followed has gone viral online. The seven-minute clip shows Larnie Thomas removing his own shirt to escape the grip of Officer Olson. The white woman recording the video, Janet Rowles, witnessed the entire incident, and can be heard pleading with the cop to resolve this in another way. She says Larnie Thomas absolutely should not have been stopped.
Once Olson called for backup, another squad car arrived minutes later, and Thomas was arrested. Olson later claimed Thomas smelled of alcohol, and a breathalyzer confirmed there was alcohol in his system. However, his blood-alcohol level has not been reported. Furthermore, the matter of how much alcohol was in his system is not exactly relevant; in Minnesota, public intoxication is not considered a crime.
Thomas was cited for disorderly conduct and failure to obey a traffic signal. He was detained for 45 minutes before being released.