St. Paul police union defends officers in skyway tasing, arrest

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2014 - 11:01 PM

The St. Paul police union is defending three officers who have been scrutinized for arresting and using a Taser on a man after his video of the incident went viral this week.

On Saturday, the St. Paul Police Federation said it stands by Officers Michael Johnson, Bruce Schmidt and Lori Hayne for acting “responsibly, respectfully and in accordance with the high professional standards we expect from our members.”

Chris V. Lollie, 28, filmed his arrest Jan. 31 and uploaded it this week to YouTube. In it, it shows the St. Paul police officers arresting him as he waited at the First National Bank lounge in downtown for his two children to arrive at preschool. Lollie argues the area was public space and it was in his rights to sit there, but police allege in reports that Lollie was uncooperative, loud and declined to identify himself.

In the several exchanges Lollie had with the officers, he says, “There is no [problem] — the problem is I’m black.”

At least two of the arresting officers shown in the video are white; a third is not shown in the video. Charges were dropped in July.

“The outcome of this arrest was determined by Mr. Lollie himself,” union President Dave Titus said in a statement. “He refused numerous lawful orders for an extended period of time. The only person who brought race into this situation was Mr. Lollie.”

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman requested a “full review” of the case and said “the video raises a great deal of concern, especially given this summer’s shooting death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo.” Brown, a black teen, was unarmed when shot earlier this month by a white policeman in Ferguson, triggering violent protests and racial tensions in that city.

“Some of the Mayor’s statements regarding this arrest were inflammatory and could potentially and unnecessarily create an unsafe climate for residents and officers alike,” Titus said. “The comparisons he makes do not reflect the already solid relationships that exist here and could be detrimental to our ongoing efforts to build even stronger ties.”

KELLY SMITH

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