After the violent arrest of a 13-year-old Black girl went viral last week, a Minnesota mayor is calling for an internal police investigation. However, one ex-police chief argues that there’s nothing to fuss about, according to The Associated Press.
The September 26 arrest video that went viral involved the 13-year-old Black girl screaming and struggling as two white male officers tried to handcuff her in a UPS store in St. Paul. The clip was recorded and posted by Helen Dillman, a witness who says the girl originally told her she was 11, however police reported that she was 13 years old.
Alexander Grahm was one of the officers involved. He’s already the subject of an internal affairs investigation, but it’s not confirmed if it’s related to the girl’s arrest. He’s prohibited by state law to disclose the details.
A spokesperson for the police, Steve Linders, says Graham initially saw the girl in a gas station parking lot where she was banned until August 2020 because she had reportedly become “a chronic problem” there. Her background involved prior arrests for disorderly conduct, theft, suspicion of assault, auto theft and fleeing from police, said Linders.
When Graham approached the girl in the parking lot, she ran onto a light rail platform and the cop didn’t follow her because he was afraid she might jump onto the tracks, said Linders. When Graham responded to a call about juveniles trying vehicle doors later in the day, he found the girl in a nearby UPS store, according to Linders.
In a police report Graham wrote, he insisted that he told the girl she was under arrest and to lie on her stomach, but she started yelling and tried to kick him, Linders said. In the viral clip, a cop can be heard telling the girl he’s “done playing” and to not bite him. The girl tells the cop that she wasn’t attempting to bite him. The officers eventually arrested the 13-year-old on suspicion of assaulting an officer, fleeing the police, obstructing the legal process and trespassing. The was transported to a juvenile detention center afterward.
While folks like St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter slammed the arrest as “deeply disturbing” and called for a “thorough and timely and transparent investigation,” one retired police chief of Baca Raton, Florida, said the girl’s age didn’t matter.
Andrew Scott, who is now a consultant and expert witness on police procedures and practices, said that the officers have to assess the “totality” of a crime during an arrest, whether it’s an adult or a juvenile.
After viewing the clip of the 13-year-old’s arrest, Scott said the cops showed “remarkable restraint.”
“It’s irrelevant if she’s 13 years old or 30 years old. She’s non-compliant with a lawful arrest,” Scott said. “Because she’s 13 doesn’t mean anything in the big picture, as far as I’m concerned.”
Many people would think differently, including the woman who recorded the video Helen Dillman. She wrote in a Facebook post that “the young girl had been sitting on the ground when the aggressing officer exclaimed ‘there you are’ and immediate[ly] pushed her from a sitting position onto her back.”
She went on to say:
“The officer who was supposed to be creating a witness report DID NOT WRITE DOWN ANYTHING THAT I TOLD HIM ABOUT THE INCIDENT, BESIDE MY ID NUMBER AND PHONE NUMBER. He wasn’t going to talk to my friend Soraya at all, until she told him ‘i was a witness too and I would like to tell you what I saw’. She went into even greater detail explaining that we believe we saw excessive force used upon a minor, being the only two people who saw the entire incident start to finish. And again, the police officer DID NOT WRITE DOWN ANYTHING THAT SHE SAID.”
The police have yet to announce the details of an internal investigation into the whole incident.