When walking to pick up his kids from day care, Christopher Lollie sat briefly in a business lounge along St. Paul’s pedestrian skyway where First National Bank building security guards reported him to police for trespassing.
Cell-phone video by musician Christopher Lollie captured a scene in which he was detained, tazed and arrested by St. Paul police last January. When walking to pick up his kids from day care, Lollie sat briefly in a business lounge along St. Paul’s pedestrian skyway where First National Bank building security guards reported him to police for trespassing.
Brace yourself, because this video’s a tough watch.
The video begins with Lollie walking through the skyway network as he talks to a female police officer investigating the bank’s trespassing complaint. Frustrated but conversational, Lollie says he knows his rights and that he isn’t obligated to identify himself because he hadn’t broken any laws.
In Minnesota, pedestrians aren’t required to identify themselves to police unless a law enforcement officer has an articulable, reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. Officers with such suspicion can detain suspects, and they must then identify themselves. It’s not clear if Lollie was lawfully detained. Even so, the officer’s investigation could have ended without incident when Lollie reasonably explained the situation.
Lollie: Like I told [the security guard], I’m going to New Horizons to pick up my kids at 10 o’clock.
Female Officer: Okay.
Lollie: I was sitting there for ten minutes. The [unclear], not before he walked up to me or anything…
FO: Thank you for — thank you for [unclear].
Lollie: He walked up to me a minute after, and got irate with me. So first off, that’s a public area. And if there’s no sign that doesn’t say that’s a private area and you can’t sit here, no one can tell me I can’t sit there. If that’s the case, [then] I can’t sit here!
FO: The problem was—
Lollie: The problem is I’m black. That’s the problem, no it really is. Cause I didn’t do anything wrong…
The city of St. Paul owns the skyway network, connecting 47 city blocks of buildings, businesses and merchants. Its spaces operate like an enclosed mall with interconnected plazas, public spaces and lobbies. Police say that First National Bank building security guards told them the lounge Lollie trespassed upon was for employees only. However, The Star Tribune’s Chao Xiong described the lounge as it appeared yesterday:
On Thursday afternoon, there was no signage in the area indicating that it was reserved for employees. Three security guards worked the area, walking about and sitting at a security desk in direct sight of the lounge running the length of a long, busy hall that connects to the U.S. Bank Center.
In the video, just as Lollie begins making progress with the female officer, a hulking male officer interdicts their skyway walk-and-talk. Things get disturbing when the officer attempts to physically restrain Lollie’s walk.
Lollie: Please don’t touch me. Please don’t touch me.
Hulking Male Officer: Well, you’re gonna go to jail then.
Lollie: No, wait. Wait.
HMO: You’re going to go to jail.
Lollie: Hold on. I’m not doing anything wrong, sir …
HMO: I’m not here to argue …
Lollie: C’mon Brother!
HMO: I’m not your brother.
Lollie: I hadn’t done anything wrong.
HMO: Put your hands behind your back, otherwise it’s going to get ugly.
Yikes. A tumble of physical motion ensues. Lollie drops his phone on a window ledge. The video goes dark. “Can somebody help me? That’s my kids right there! My kids are right there,” Lollie pleads as his kids cry in the background.
"You’re gonna get tazed," the male officer threatens. The electric-buzzing of a Taser arcs up, and its frequency changes — it found grounding. Lollie spastically yelps.
"This is racist," Lollie declares as his voice begins to fade down the skyway. He’s being hauled to jail for sitting in an open lounge. "They stopped me because I’m black … I didn’t do anything … they assaulted me … they tazed me … and everything."
Lollie was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process. All charges were dropped.
The St. Paul Police Department believes their officers acted appropriately.
Hat Tip: Streets MN, Star Tribune
Source: Brint Crockett for The New Civil Rights Movement