St. Paul cops allegedly taser and arrest black male for sitting in public space

(Video below)

UPDATE: Christopher Lollie, the man identified in the video claims charges against him were dropped. Read more here.

A video showing the arrest of a black St. Paul man for allegedly sitting in a public space and refusing to give up his name surfaced yesterday, Aug. 26 — only weeks after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Missouri re-sparked the national debate on race and police profiling.

The video, shot by the man’s cellphone, shows his interaction with officers as he attempts to pick up his children from New Horizon Academy in downtown St. Paul. As the officers force the man to put his hands behind his back, he drops his phone and the video goes black, but the audio continues and we hear the man crying for help and proclaiming that his kids are watching. Both officers in the video are white.

“Why do I have to let you know who I am?” the man asks the first female officer at the beginning of the video. “I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws.”

From the following dialogue, it appears the police were called by a store clerk, who was upset over the man sitting in front of his store. The man in the video tells the officer he was sitting in front of the store for 10 minutes as he waited for his kids to get out of school, and that the area is public and he had a right to sit there.

“The problem was —” the female officer begins.

“The problem is I’m black,” the man fires back. “It really is, because I’m not sitting there with a group of people. I’m sitting there by myself. By myself, not causing a problem.”

Eventually a second male officer approaches the man in the video and attempts to restrain him.

“I’ve got to go get my kids,” the man tells the second officer, pulling his arm away. “Please don’t touch me.”

“You’re going to go to jail then,” the second officer says.

“I’m not doing anything wrong,” the man replies.

At this point, both officers grab the man.

“Come on brother,” the man says, “This is assault.”

“I’m not your brother,” the second officer replies. “Put your hands behind your back otherwise it’s going to get ugly.”

Eventually the officers start to cuff the man and he drops his cellphone and the video goes black.

“I haven’t done anything wrong!” we hear the man yell. “Can somebody help me? That’s my kids, right there! My kids are right there!”

“Put your hands behind your back!” the male officer screams.

We hear the flicker of a Taser and the man screams out. As they move away from the cellphone, the man continues to plea to passersby to help him.

In the distance the scene calms down and the man continues to explain to the officers that he still hasn’t broken any laws, that he stayed calm, didn’t curse and wasn’t attempting to flee — making cuffing him and tasering him unnecessary.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m a working man. I take care of my kids. And I get this?” we hear him say. “And you tase me. For what? I don’t have any weapons. You’re the ones with the weapons here.”


Watch the video below:

(Warning: Video contains some disturbing content)

Correction: A previous version of this story stated the incident took place in Minneapolis. The video was shot in St. Paul.

Read more TC Daily Planet coverage of police misconduct issues.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.

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  • The way it should have gone: "Say, could you move on, the store owner is kinda..." "Officer, I am waiting for my kids, they should be here in a little while." "OK, I'll talk to the store owner, sorry to have bothered you." - by Bill Hedrick on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 3:39pm
  • Awful and shameful SSPD! I thought at first, they could have just given him a citation, a warning...but then for what? Not giving your name to a police officer? I don't want to spend my tax dollars this way. The racism needs to be called out and needs to stop. - by Alicia Ranney on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:46pm
  • Called by a store clerk, hmm? Let's make sure that's the real story and then boycott the hell out of that store, shall we? - by Peter Gamache on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 2:45pm
  • Posting ESPECIALLY for JM Griffin who seems to challenge anyone who presumes this man's innocence, but also seems stalwart in his conviction that this bystander was a possible threat. If I could, I would post the video of the police officer who engaged a young man exercising his open-carry rights. Here's a guy that literally had loaded pistol on him in plain sight, but because he was well versed on precedent and case-law, he was left alone and the gun was handed back to him. In that particular case, the individual with the pistol refused to ID himself to the police (which is what this man refused to do in this case) because he was not being suspected of a crime. Just the same, this African American subject was not in the commission of any crime, yet was accosted and eventually tazered and arrested for the same thing, but even less of a threat because the huge difference being the lack of a weapon. The way things are trending is scary enough on its own. What's worse, is people like JM Griffin that post such inflammatory rhetoric about: (and I quote)--- "Do you forget there is a black man who is President? Did you forget slavery was over hundreds of years ago, and a lot of white men died fighting a war to end slavery"------ as if these points (see Straw Man), which are loosely based on fact (not hundreds of years ago, but 151-years ago was when the document was signed, but its terribly dishonest to suggest the Emancipation document ended systemic inequality) somehow diminish the wrong being done in this particular case. Generalizing and stereotyping, white-washing history and diminishing other peoples' pain helps to heal NOTHING. Each situation has to be judged on its own merit, and even the smallest measure of honesty and integrity would bring the average, rational human being to admit that the police handled THIS particular case in the St. Paul skyways, about as poorly as the could have. Remember, in this country, the justice system is predicated on innocence until proven guilty in a court of law, NOT the other way around. - by Matthew Lipschultz on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 3:11pm
  • Come on, since when does a citizen sitting down the street get handcuffed, tasered and threatened because he is waiting for his children? He didn't do anything to anyone, he's just sitting. Police harrasment of the black community has to stop. Citizens have the right to be in a public place. - by Elizabeth Ruskin Shanklin on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 2:53pm
  • I would much prefer to raise the bar of the quality of training received and until an officer has achieved at the highest levels they are not given a weapon. Period. I want them disarmed. - by Andrea Friesen on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 4:28pm
  • Did they end up arresting him, then? On what charge? Have the cops been IDed? They need to be fired. - by Marianne Stebbins on Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:18am
  • I have family and older acquaintances in local and federal law enforcement (retired). When I see goons like these cops treating black men like this, I want to scream. It an alter reality, I would like to see their reproductive organ removed and have their gun hand and arm removed. What has been happening to black people for decades is a sham, and the culture of ill-regard for black people must see a transformation and human revolution, as Dr. Daisaku Ikeda uses the term "human revolution." I am a Nichiren Buddhist ( Our outlook on life is to bring peace throughout the world one person at a time. We are taught to find happiness in even the darkest of times, which is very difficult with police officers like the ones shown in this video. I have worked along side now MPD Deputy Chief of Investigations Kris Arneson with the local Neighborhood Revitalization Program Safety Committee. We have brought more reputable black/Somali cops into our precinct and lowered crime rates in our neighborhood as a result of common sense and objective-mindedness. I am currently working with a victim advisor at MPD to help prepare for a case against a young man who brutally beat me with two other unidentified men in their early-20's and late teens. I have become so provoked by the culture of warehousing black men in jails for presumed guilt (whether or not guilt is true). My goal is to get the kid some positive training and accomplishments with a highly respected NGO so that he knows that not all whites hate or question the integrity or lack of high potential among black men. His family came from a nation in which civil war and terrorism reigned. He needs positive modeling, not dead time in a cell for punching a guy. I hope and pray that the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, of which one of my college mentors was state commissioner, will do something to dramatically de-motivate racial profiling and having authoritarian ants like these cops ruin our streets. I have known some of the best cops in Minneapolis, including LT John Delmonico, President of the Minneapolis Police Officers' Federation. LT Delmonico and his weekend partner at a local apartment complex, SGT Bruce Ketzner, have provide themselves as excellent role models, although John must defend cops who are sometimes bad cops. What happened in this video, and what utterly happened in Ferguson< MO, and the base nature of a former group of University cops hated by foreign royalty who were here at U of MN for the Masters in Public Health, must (and, as in the case of UMPD under Chiefs Joy Rikkala and Greg Hestness, and has) turn the corner on their petty paranoia and aggressive racism. - by Barry N Peterson on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 10:37pm
  • We should just get rid of all cops so nothing like this will happen anymore - by Justin Houle on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 4:12pm
  • The police department should have told the store manager, "It's a public walk. A guy can sit there because his sales taxes (he's paid at some point in America) paid for that sidewalk. Now if he enters your store we'll come down, but for now, we have more important issues to deal with and maybe you should call us for an emergency and not waste tax payers money with your minor complaints. Have a good day." End of story. - by Serena Superspence Spencer on Thu, 08/28/2014 - 9:20am

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Kristoffer Tigue's picture
Kristoffer Tigue

Kristoffer Tigue is the editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

(editor [at] tcdailyplanet [dot] net)


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Hey everybody, thanks for the

Hey everybody, thanks for the great discussion on such an important issue.