Minneapolis community activist Al Flowers and a police union president offered sharply divergent accounts Monday of a weekend incident at Flowers’ home, when he was arrested after a confrontation with police.
Flowers, still showing evidence of injuries, including stitches on his right eyebrow and scalp, said he did not resist when two police officers came to his door around midnight Friday to pick up his teenage daughter for violating the terms of her electronic home-monitoring.
Flowers, giving his first full account of the events, insisted that his only response to the officers was to ask to see an arrest warrant.
“I said, ‘I get to get a warrant. You’ve got to give me something,’ and they was like, ‘We don’t have to give you nothing,’ ” he said, saying that he was eventually pushed to the ground and forcefully arrested. He said he was punched in the head and ribs 30 to 40 times.
Police union President John Delmonico said that Flowers refused to cooperate with police and that one of the officers was bitten in the altercation and had to be treated at Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis Police Department and Chief Janeé Harteau had no comment on the case Monday. Harteau, in a news conference held several hours after the arrest, said she was frustrated that she could not talk about the incident as it moved through the legal process. She called the arrest “a distraction” from the work she has tried to do with public safety and improving relations in crime-torn communities.
Flowers’ case remains under investigation; he has not been formally charged, although the police said there’s probable cause to charge him with assaulting a police officer and obstructing the legal process.
The confrontation ended with Flowers in the back of a squad car with cuts to his head and bruising to his face. He was first treated at HCMC and then transferred to the Hennepin County jail. He was released from jail Sunday afternoon as law enforcement decides whether to press charges.
Delmonico said the officers did not need to produce an arrest warrant when picking up Flowers’ daughter. In such cases, the officers get a confirmation from the agency that issued the warrant before acting on it. The officers had reason to be at Flowers’ house, knocked on the door and then saw Flowers and his daughter, Delmonico said.
“They told him to get out of the way and he wouldn’t and the fight was on,” Delmonico said.
Delmonico said Flowers knew that his daughter had violated the terms of her electronic home monitoring. “Why couldn’t we just make it easy and bring her into jail, where she belonged that night?” he said.
Flowers, a one-time mayoral candidate and a member of the now-defunct Police Community Relations Council, chaired a meeting of the Community Standards Initiative in July in which several members, including three Minneapolis police officers, said more needs to be done to recruit blacks into the Police Department.
Flowers’ family said they were comforted over the weekend after hearing from Mayor Betsy Hodges, who met with Flowers’ sister, Lisa Clemons, a former member of the Minneapolis Police Department.
“She had the humanity, the decency, to reach out to the family,” said Clemons. Hodges didn’t take sides in the fight but was “human,” said Clemons.