MPB Commissioner has 'serious questions' after video of park police detaining black children

"I have serious questions about our Park Police protocol around detaining children."

Adam Carter
July 11, 2018 - 1:55 pm
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Update:

The Minneapolis Park Police have released an initial version of events surrounding the incident Tuesday in which a woman posted a Facebook video showing police detaining a group of black children at Minnehaha Falls.

According to Minneapolis Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto:

- A 911 caller reported that four people were following them, and said they had a gun.  The caller contacted police again to say her boyfriend was being assaulted.

- One officer drew his weapon and pointed it in the direction of the teens -- two 13-year-olds, a 14-year old and a 16-year old.

- Information that the teens provided suggests there was some sort of disturbance involving another person.  

- Police were unable to contact the 911 caller or her boyfriend, either at the scene or by calling the number where the 911 calls came from.  

- An investigation is underway to determine if it was a false police report was made, which is a crime.  An investigation will also look into whether the officers involved followed proper procedure.

- Three of the teens were released at the scene, and the fourth teen, who was determined to be a runaway, was transferred to the juvenile supervision center and later released.

A woman posted a video to Facebook showing police two African-American boys in handcuffs.  The woman, Brianna Lindell, says in her post she witnessed the officers draw guns on four boys. She says the prior to police arriving, the boys were being harassed by an older white teenager who was using racial slurs.

The video does not show officers with guns drawn, but it shows two boys in handcuffs sitting on the ground in front of a squad car.  The boys are eventually put into the squad.

An unidentified officer then explains to the person filming that the boys were not under arrest, and that "a few of them are runaways" and involved in a disturbance.

The officer also explains that police were trying to locate the white teen who was reportedly harassing the boys.

Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner Jono Cowgill responded to the incident in a Facebook post on Wednesday. "While I know that these children are all home safe now, I also know that I have serious questions about our Park Police protocol around detaining children," he wrote. 

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Mary Merrill and Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto will hold a news conference at 2 pm today to address the incident and the police response.