MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Police Department has launched an internal affairs investigation after an officer who appears to be white was caught on video punching a Black teenager, Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Thursday.
A bystander recorded a portion of the confrontation as it unfolded in north Minneapolis on Wednesday evening. Arradondo said it followed a "violent felony carjacking" involving several people that began in suburban New Hope. The chase went through Robbinsdale before ending in Minneapolis, he said.
The Racial Justice Network circulated the nearly 4-minute Facebook video of the incident. The group contends it shows that while one Black teenager was being arrested, "five officers surrounded another Black teenager, with two of them holding him, and another large white male police officer winding up and taking a full swing punch to the teenager's head."
The video shows Minneapolis and Robbinsdale police attempting to put one of the handcuffed teenagers in the back of a squad car while the crowd surrounding them grows increasingly angry. After officers eventually walk the teenager away, the video pivots to a scuffle at a distance involving officers and a different teenager.
Just moments later, the video shows one officer appears to throw a punch, striking the teenager in the head before several officers take the teenager to the ground and pin him down. The video does not make clear what preceded the punch.
A Racial Justice Network spokesman, Pete Gamades, told the Star Tribune that the group had not received details about what injuries, if any, the teen had suffered.
Arradondo said he didn't know the connection, if any, between the carjacking suspect and the teenager who was punched. Both teens were taken into custody, he said.
The police chief and mayor said the case had been submitted to the department's internal affairs division but that they were unable to release many more details about the incident due to the ongoing investigation. Frey said providing more "would very likely jeopardize the investigation" and the outcome.
"We are going to conduct a very thorough investigation," Arradondo said. He would not commit to releasing any officer body camera video of the incident.
The mayor and police chief spoke at a weekly briefing on security arrangements surrounding the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. Opening statements are set for Monday.